Jonna is back in Perth this week so the boys and I have another 4 lessons. Luckily it's tax time and my return came just in time to cover the cost. Yay!

Coolie had his first lesson last night, on the flat. I touched base with Jonna on what we had been doing since we last saw him, and outlined my fairly lofty goal to him: Elementary dressage. Thankfully he didn't laugh at me and we got right to work on lateral movements.

From the get go Jonna pinged me for having nagging aides. He said, every time I nag, I owe him a dollar. Every time I am effective he owes me a dollar. After one lap of the arena, he said I was in debt to him about $250! So I started working on keeping my transitions prompt, and my aides effective, re-establishing self carriage. It seems so basic, yet when you ride alone so often you slip into bad habits so easily!

Once I got that sorted, we got working on shoulder in. Our shoulder in is ok, and Jonna wants to to be in more self carriage and to start to develop it more in medium trot.

we started on the right rein and while we got a good angle, I found it tricky to maintain the 3 tracks, and have the right impulsion. We had a chat about what I should be doing with the aides, and I repeated the exercise. This time I was more effective about the 3 tracks, but lost the impulsion again.

Again Jonna wanted me to be more effective with my aides, and really aware of how much pressure I needed to apply to get a response. When I was more effective The exercise went so much better, and I could use less pressure. Magic? Nope but it felt like it!

We changed reins and tot he left our indirect rein is more responsive so even though Coolie wasn't on 3 tracks, the shoulders stayed in self carriage. This is really cool, and good to know. it gave me one less thing to think about. Again I had to be more effective, but it took far less pressure to maintain 3 track to the left.

We then started to add impulsion back and as soon as I had to think about forward, I forgot about the 3 tracks. Second time round I did a better job at establishing the impulsion before I asked for shoulder in. Jonna really wanted me to set up the forward trot around the short side o the arena, and get coolie to lengthen his frame slightly before commencing. Then i had to think about everything which is the hard bit. Jonna wanted me to make sure I was using both of my legs for the forward aid, so if I lost the forward, i needed to stop worrying about the shoulder in, reestablish impulsion then recommence shoulder in.

We got it after a few goes and had a walk and talk break, where Jonna explained the next exercise. This time we had to do shoulder in off the wall, staying straight, getting 3 tracks and impulsion without the wall to help us.

It wasn't quite as hard as I though, as we are really quite straight. We lost the impulsion a bit but Jonna was generally happy with how we did.

We then had a canter and worked on changing the flexion and maneuvering the shoulder in canter. We have done a lot of this so it wasn't too much of a shit show. We then worked a bit on canter loops, getting a bit of counter canter. Jonna noted that I was way better about not nagging in the canter, which is good!

Coolie and I struggle to maintain the canter sometimes, and when we fell back to trot yesterday Jonna asked if it happens often. I said yes, so Jonna said when it happens, immediately go right back t canter. Coolie is a horse who prefers trot, so he falls out of canter and then runs in the trot. Jonna wanted him to canter no matter what. He didn't care about the lead, the transition quality or anything, it just had to be canter. Jonna then asked if Coolie will transition o trot by me moving my legs to the girth. I wasn't sure, so I tried it out. Yep, Coolie transitions just off my position. Jonna was pleased with that and it explains why we fall to the trot, I move my position too much. Another mental note and kick in the butt!

Jonna also wanted me to insist that Coolie carry his head properly in the canter and to exaggerate the release when he put his head down. That's something I am always working on, and while Coolie is a bit resistant a few repetitions gets him much softer.

The main points from this lesson were:

Don't nag! Insist on a good pace and transition from the start, and if you lose it, be effective at getting it back. Now I have seen videos of me riding, I can't unsee it. UGH!

Build on the lateral movements, and start to focus on getting them in self carriage.

Always ask for MORE!

My lesson was really wet and cold, but I was really surprised when more than our allotted time had passed. I was really only just getting into it. Watching the videos back, Coolie is getting so consistent into the contact. The screen shots in this post aren't cherry picked for the most part, thats just how he was going!

Henry has a flat lesson on Saturday, after Jonna does a presentation on re training off the track horse,s then both the boys jump on Sunday. I can't wait!


  1. Jonna sounds like a great teacher - I like a serious dressage butt kicking!

    1. I love it when you suddenly have a really clear path forward. Like, i know it wont be easy to get there but I feel like I have the tools to take me there!


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