A Lesson with Jonna McLean

I have been really looking forward to this lesson, even though I have never been coached by Jonna previously. The McLean family have a wonderful reputation and all my lessons with Manu have been nothing short of incredible.
From my last lesson with Manu. I have nothing from yesterdays lesson. 

Jonna did not disappoint. Very black and white, I was left in no doubt what he thought but not in a negative way. It was very encouraging but when something was not right, it was repeated until it was.

The lesson started with him watching and talking while I warmed up. I filled him in on where we were at and we looked very briefly at transitions. They were much improved from my last lesson (my coach even commented I had done my homework!), and Henry was far more relaxed in a different environment. We then worked on the turn because basically we suck at turning.
My lesson pretty much looked like this. 

I had to be very clear with all my aids, and train self carriage and straightness all the time. Straightness was achieved by lining 2 points in the distance up and correcting any drift from my line. We did this at walk, trot and canter. I was not allowed to let Henry deviate from the line no matter what he did, our direction was solely my responsibility. If he deviated from my line from something distracting or spooking him, we had to immediately go back to the same place and stay on my line.

We worked on turn by using indirect rein 2 strides before the turn, then direct rein through the turn. This made the direct rein aid lovely and light! The left we did 2 repetitions of and Jonna was pretty happy with what he saw. The right took a few more repetitions but was vastly improved by the end. Jonna said I had excellent feel and was a compassionate rider.
Exciting to ride but not exciting to watch

After doing all the exercises in all 3 paces we moved onto jumping. We started with the intention of maintaining straightness and the correct lead over the fence. This was soon changed to make sure Henry doesn't run off after the jump! So we jumped and halted, then jumped and halted making sure each time Henry was more responsive. It was hard because I just had to let Henry make the mistake and then correct him, so before the fence I just had to sit there and guide him on a loose rein.

Jonna was impressed and how I reacted and met Henry will equal pressure to what he gave me. So if he reacted with a 7, I corrected with a 7. After a few repetitions there was a definite improvement in Henry's reactions but there is still a lot to work on!
Hen-wee doesn't like the sound of all the homework we have!
Over all it was such a good lesson. It was wonderful to be told Henry is a great young horse, that as a rider I had good feel, and that I was doing a good job! I have so much homework but I feel so inspired. I think the biggest takeaway for me is something I have been struggling with recently. I am always worried about Henry doing the wrong thing, something that will end with me on the floor. Jonna said embrace the mistakes, because every mistake is a training opportunity. Every time a horse does the wrong thing, he smiles and thinks 'yes! This is something I can work with!'. I think I need to start thinking this way! 


  1. aw that's awesome that the trainers liked Henry so much! straightness is so hard tho, esp over fences haha. such an easy thing to let slide too....

    1. They can be pretty sneaky about being crooked too. Lull you into a false sense of straightness!


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