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Insist and Believe Meme

Insist and Believe

After a tough show, I always look forward to my next lesson. By nature, I’m a planner and action-oriented; I like to have clear goals and a way to get there. So when everything went to shit at the show, I came home with a renewed sense of vigor to fix it. What I lacked was a way to channel my motivation — how, exactly, do I change what went wrong? That, right there, is why I take regular lessons. I’m aware enough to know when things aren’t right… but I don’t always know specifically what’s wrong or how to fix it. So Trainer and I talked about it and came up with a game plan. We started off by addressing me: I have to insist on getting what I want from Miles and I have to believe it; I can’t ever ask and then give up.

Tightening the Girth

The lesson started off on the flat, where we addressed the right leg. Specifically, I need to use my right leg to push Miles out and around in corners and on circles… and Miles has to listen to this aid. We started at the walk where I encountered resistance; Miles sort of did what I asked, but not really. So I had to get tough, and kick him a few times with my right leg (yes, I insist you move horse!). We did three circles at the walk, trot and canter. At the canter, I just couldn’t keep Miles going; he kept breaking to a trot at some point during our circle.

Grumpy about Forward

This was particularly frustrating for me because holding a gait is a very elementary concept and should be something I barely need to think about at this point in my riding education. It was also frustrating because I couldn’t tell if the problem was me or Miles; am I physically not strong enough to keep him going or is he just being lazy and ignoring me? For this ride, Trainer and I opted to add spurs to see if that helped. And as soon as I put them on, wouldn’t you know we didn’t break! It was still a lot of work to get Miles bending around my leg and not just motorcycling around the circle — but at least I wasn’t struggling quite as much with just going forward.

Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

After that, we jumped a little bit. Over fences we focused on three things: turns/corners, path and landing. All three of these things are interrelated and I found that when I got them all right, my ride over fences was easier and much more consistent. Just like what we did on the flat, I kept working to get a better bend heading to each jump. This allowed me to have a better path heading to the jump so that I had more time to get straight and find a distance. We also focused on the stride(s) immediately upon landing and really riding, not just being a passenger. I sat up and sent Miles forward, which gave me a better path following the jump and allowed me to prepared him for the upcoming turn. Wash, Rinse, Repeat for 8-9 jumps. See how it’s really all connected?

It was a great lesson that gave me great homework to do when I’m riding by myself. Step 1: increase leg and core strength; Step 2: insist on and maintain forward; Step 3: insist on a right bend; Step 4: Believe that we can do this!

Insist and Believe Meme


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

16 thoughts on “Insist and Believe

  1. Sounds like a great lesson! You really do have a fabulous trainer. I ride by myself and only get to have lessons maybe a few times a year, so I’m loving reading about your lessons! I can apply a lot of what you practice to my rides as well. It’s easy to forget the most basic of things. Like really bending around the turns, and staying straight to the jumps. Great to have eyes on the ground to remind you of these things!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. My trainer just showed me a new trick to use with Izzy who doesn’t want to listen to my left leg (tracking right or left). To impress upon him that when we track right, he has to TURN RIGHT, she had me really bend him to the right and plant my inside hand on my thigh. I then nailed him with my outside leg over and over until he was jumping into the turn away from my outside leg. Each time he hustled into the turn away from my leg, I relaxed the pressure. It was amazing how responsive he was to my outside leg after a few minutes of that exercise!

    We’ve been working on that little exercise all week. He hates it, but it sure does get him moving. The good thing about doing it that way is that I can boot him really hard without him bolting forward. Since his neck is bent so far around, all he can do is spin faster, which is what I want anyway.

    I don’t know if this would help with Miles, but the point is that YOU have to win. That’s how my trainer puts it. Whatever exercise you do, you have to come out on top. Even if it is a small win, a win is a win. When we give up and let our boys do what they want, it makes the next ride even harder! I have been kicking Izzy’s butt pretty good these last few weeks, and my trainer pointed out that the expression on his face is priceless. His face now says, “I don’t think I am in charge!” And that’s just the way I like it. :0)

  3. Oscar sometimes breaks from canter when he’s finding the work particularly difficult, and it drives me nuts. When you’re horse doesn’t wanna canter it’s hard work huh!!

    Sounds like you’ve got a fab trainer though, and step four (believing) is my favourite. I’m all about that sports psychology haha!

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