Yeah … So I realized that it’s been a month since I updated this … didn’t I say I’d do better on this? Clearly, it’s not working … I’ll keep trying! If it’s any consolation, I don’t update because I’m so busy with Firefly … 😉
In other news ….
YOU GUYS. I did a guest blog recently! Does that make a real blogger? It sure feels like it. Anyway, it’s not published yet (their website is undergoing a major overhaul) so here’s a modified version of what I sent to be published – with more details relevant to our training 🙂
Recent weeks have been filled with at least 5 days/week of under saddle work for Firefly & I. Our head trainer at my barn has been on maternity leave and was kind enough to set up some guest instructors for her current students to continue training over the summer. I jumped at the chance to take a lesson with guest instructor, Ellen Eckstein. Everything I’d ever heard about Ellen encouraged me to take the chance if it ever came – “She will change your riding” was the sentiment I’d heard from all my friends who had ever trained with Ellen. I had initially signed up to take a lesson on another horse I’ve been riding 3 days per week for the last 6 months or so – a beautiful, big moving, 7-year-old Hanoverian with fabulous training and beautiful gaits. When I found out that he may be unavailable during the week that Ellen would be doing her lessons at my barn, I regretfully emailed our head trainer to cancel – this was about a month out. Her reply was one that I had not expected … Do my lesson with Ellen on Firefly. “Firefly!?” I said to myself. “But he will only have about 30-45 days of under saddle work! How can I do that!?” Her encouragement to train with Ellen gave us a goal to work towards in earnest. If you don’t know me, I’m VERY goal oriented so this was quite possibly the best thing for us. Thankfully, by this point, I had successfully worked him through a brief (but frustrating) “I don’t want to and you can’t make me” phase. I was hoping that he would get over it by the time our lesson came around and, thankfully, it did. The lesson was slated for 45 minutes and I’m proud to say that we were able to make it through about 40 of those 45 minutes with no major meltdowns. I’m quite proud of my baby horse.
Ellen’s lesson expanded my toolbox in ways that I could not have expected. I honestly had no idea what to expect going in. She focused on teaching him what the bit truly means and refining my cues to get the response that I’m looking for. Ellen was in the arena with us during the lesson, helping from the ground – a strategy that I really value when starting a young horse. Coupling my rein aids with her encouragement from the ground to augment my aids, Firefly quickly picked up on what I was asking for. After just 15 minutes, he was traveling forward better even without doing a lot of work on the actual act of going forward. When I walked into the arena with my big green baby, I said, “So … we only have about 45 days under saddle … he’s super green.” Her response? “Wonderful! How fun … this is my specialty.”
Ellen’s philosophy, particularly with a young horse, is to teach more of a “come with me” approach, giving a young horse direction, instead of “we’re going forward now”, using body language and cues. I’ve had a several more rides on Firefly since our lesson and I really feel like our lesson with Ellen led us to a breakthrough. Firefly, being part Arab, loves a good puzzle and seems to be enjoying the challenges I’ve put before him. Every ride yields better balance and movement. Ellen is due back to to my barn at the end of August and I can’t wait to ride with her again! I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to get some insight on my young horse from her. It’s a long road ahead for Firefly and I (we have big dreams!), but I know that Ellen has made it at least little bit easier.
Due to a combination of heat and my own work travel schedule (I wrote this on a plane, y’all!), he’s had about a week off but we will be back at it in the coming days! Hopefully we won’t have to back track too much. The weather looks much more decent than it was before I took off …
That’s all from here! More updates soon …