Monday, January 20, 2014

Lesson with Sandy Savage

This morning I loaded Winston's saddle, bridle, and tack box into the trailer. I added a clean white pad with bright black piping - not one of the faded ones I use normally. His white schooling boots were dirty so I packed maroon Eskadron wraps. I made a couple PB&J sandwiches while Brett packed water bottles on ice. We loaded Winston and headed south to Wilton just before 11am.

Winston unloaded and went on llama alert -- head high, trying to lean on me for support as we walked around the grounds. "Winston, you are six years old. You can stand on your own feet and walk like a grown up." We walked out past the round pen, the tractor, the water truck, the barn and the covered arena. He nibbled on grass behind the dressage court. We walked back to the trailer where I grabbed the lunge line out of the trailer and then headed to the round pen. Winston was doing a pretty good imitation of an ostrich at first; head high, eyes darting back and forth, looking at everything. Then he went to work.

Back at the trailer, I wrapped his legs, settled the saddle on his back and slipped the bridle over his head.

He calmly walked with me back out to the dressage court where I walked him around inside the court, both directions, until Sandy arrived. His head was low and relaxed as we walked along. Periodically, he bumped my hand softly with his nose.

Sandy asked about Winston's history, what we had most recently been working on, and then asked me to start working with him like I would do at home so she could see where she could help.

I came home and listed eight "homework" take-aways from the lesson so there are plenty of areas where she is helping. Most of the help came in the form of instruction to help Winston be comfortable in the contact and for me to be effective. To start with, she changed how I hold my hands so that I influence the contact with my wrist instead of my whole arm. This frees up my elbow to operate like a shock absorber so the movement of my body doesn't smack him in the mouth. It also allows me to effectively increase or decrease the amount of contact needed at a given moment.

Winston wasn't too thrilled with the new effective me. He tried throwing his head up (I curled my wrist in, increasing the contact), he tried sucking back (I kicked him forward into the contact) and then he gave -- and I immediately went to a very soft place with my hands.

Sandy also taught me how to use half halts in the downward transition to keep Winston from running into the trot from canter. It. felt. awesome.

Winston and I were toast at the end of the lesson; happy toast. Winston was very pleased with himself and I was equally proud of him. Brett said we looked like we were back in business. I can't wait to practice what we learned today and I'm looking forward to the next lesson.


  1. Great pictures (Brett) and it sounds like you have picked a great trainer. Look forward to following your progress. Winston sure is a beauty. It looks very warm out there, as we a freezing this morning.

  2. You guys look great :-) the best lessons are the ones when you make progress and learn. Sandy sounds like a very good instructor

  3. What a difference a new trainer can make. Glad you let him get familiar with the new surroundings.

  4. Annette, Winston looks like a happy boy at the canter... good for both of you!

  5. You both looked fabulous. Your legs look incredibly long.It's so valuable to have good "eyes on the ground" to tell us what they see.

  6. wonderful! I love the photos.

    BTW you look like you lost weight.

  7. Great lesson, if the photos are anything to go by!


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