First Lesson!!!

Yesterday was my first lesson ever. The rain stayed away and while we worked in a bit of a drizzle for a couple minutes, it was really cool so we were able to do more than we would've if it had of stayed sunny. I was really nervous putting a bit in his mouth again but she definitely knew what she was doing so I pretty much just gave her the stage and let her teach. She used a kimberwick bit on him and he took it perfectly like always. Before she started, she stood him square to look at his conformation and she said he had no reason to be a rough gaited horse based on his conformation alone. He was actually very well put together, his legs are too short by a couple inches and his head is heavy, but nothing extreme that would make him so rough. We tacked up and took him to the pasture to lunge because the round pen was so, so muddy. She started off with a walk until he gave into the bit and relaxed more, then she got him going in a trot and he was definitely tense to start off with. He gave a little bunny hop at one point on the right side but settled down fairly nicely within a few minutes. Keep in mind, he hasn't been worked with a bit in at least 3 years, most likely more than that. Whether or not he's actually be seriously WORKED with a bit ever isn't in my knowledge. Trainer said he gave into the bit very quickly and kept a soft mouth with just the plain bit, which was very great.



Also. My Quarter Horse tried to rack. Yes, rack. Her first words were, "Um, is he running with gaited horses in the pasture?" Yup. She said that he will calm down drastically and probably be more eager to collect and be less barn sour even when he is moved home to calmer horses. He's NOT the leader in the herd and he follows whatever the others do. He's picked up a bit on the weird gait.

Once he was much calmer at the trot, lowering his head again and collecting himself better in his hindquarters, she hopped on to see what he would do with someone on him. He behaved much better with a bit than he did with me the last time I attempted it in the same pasture, he didn't act too barn sour with her because he knew that he couldn't run her over. He didn't want to back, which she said could either be from, A. Attitude
B. His arthritis
C. His weak hindquarters which need work. (AKA: My horse is basically on pasture condition right now.)

He did everything else extremely well. She said that in a few weeks, she wants to see if she can get him to do a few more different things like sidepasses and lead changes, etc. She slowed him down when he trotted and oh. my. goodness. Even mom who was watching from afar (Trying to stay away so I would focus on trainer and Red) yelled out, "OH MY GOODNESS RED IS DRESSAGING!" Keep in mind, she's known this horse for like 9+ years and he has never, never slowed his trot or done anything remotely close to a fancy trot. But man, my pony was looking good. I have some video that I'll post later. He was slowed down and I have no clue what the english term for that is, but he looked like a literal dressage horse in training, just with a roping saddle on his back.

I like fancy pony's headset nowadays.

Every time he did a few beats of it, she stopped him (which he did EVEN when heading to the barn without fighting. Oh bit, where have you been all my life) and praised him. Every time she did that, he seemed to calm down even more. He worked up a good sweat and it hurt me to see him stressed in the beginning, but like mom and Trainer said -  he hasn't been seriously WORKED in years and hasn't had a bit in his mouth in a long time. So he did pretty well, considering everything!
Drool dripping down. Thanks bit and clovers!

Then...she asked me if I was comfortable getting on my bitted horse and I was like "ummm last time he had a bit in his mouth I was bareback and he was not happy." But mom had interceded at this point and her logic won me over. Red is not, and will never be unless it's MY FAULT, a bad horse. The worst he had done on the lungeline was bunny hop/throw the tiniest buck in the world and he hadn't done anything bad with a rider. I'd be safe as long as I listened and didn't do stupid things.

So I mounted. Stood there for a few minutes, let him relax into the bit (which he did much quicker this time) and I worked him in slow circles, tested my breaks and used my inner leg to keep him in the circle with barely using my reins. (What is LIFE I didn't have to jerkkkkk his reins.) Outside leg for gas, inner leg for pressure. She told me that whenever I was ready, to ask for a trot and ask for a SLOW one - don't let him speed off with me, I had brakes this time if need be. Keep pressure in inner leg, use outer leg for gas when needed, tapped him with my outside leg and squeezed a bit with my inner leg and he did the dressagey trot for about 5 seconds until I accidentally released (stupid weak legs...) and he stopped. But he started right back when I asked. It wasn't him being stubborn, it was me being...well, a newbie. ;) ;) After awhile she got me to kick my stirrups out and ride with no stirrups (and my legs are dying) and I did better with no stirrups and kept better heels for some reason.

I have no photos of me so here are more with Trainer.

I'm still super confused with bits and headsets and etc, but he definitely settled down more and more with every minute that passed. She made me ask for a back, he basically said "nahh...." so I dismounted and he did it very easily without my weight but got upset when she asked for it with a rider. Oh well. :P Next time the vet is out, I'll ask her about it. Our bet is he could still be a bit stiff from the road founder/arthritis and may need to either work it out or just not back and etc.

We worked him for a couple more minutes and then we went ahead and dismounted, he had worked well and deserved the rest of the evening off. I jokingly said, "Wonder if he hates me now..." but considering he started following me back up to the barn (to which mom laughed over...he's such a puppy.) and promptly did his weird "I'm going to hug you then put ALL the weight of my body on my head and put that on your shoulder!" thing, I'm guessing not.

He got a lot of treats and dinner after I cooled him off and hosed him off, such a good boy. He promptly fell asleep in the barn so while everyone was talking about Bella AKA the filly that will not grow,  I braided his mane and made him wear a hat. But of course, phone was pretty much dead and belonged in a coffin. No photos :( :( We talked for quite awhile until mom and I were dying of starvation and hit the road. (Red also nickered for me when I walked out of the gate. ADORABLENESS.)

Moral of this story...my legs hurt, dressage moves are pretty and I told you so, Red has potential to be more than just a trail horse. Whether or not we do anything with his potential other than just doing it for fun at home...who knows.


  1. Don't forget, dressage is just a fancy word for training! And training is always important, even for a trail horse! Glad to hear it all went well! :D

    1. Agreed! Dressage is an awesome foundation for everything. No matter what the horse's job is at the end of the day! Thanks :)

  2. Sounds like a GREAT first training exercise! Who knew a clunky ole Quarter Horse could do dressage ;-) Kidding of course. :-D

  3. Yay Red! and yay you! sounds like a good lesson for everyone

  4. Very cool! He looks nice out there.

  5. Awesome! Glad it went well! :D

  6. Way to go Red! He looked so cute. And yes, riding without stirrups with give your legs a work out. Sounded like you did well and made some progress!