Schooling First Level movements

I’m pretty sure Gina read yesterday’s blog and wasn’t thrilled to be signed up for First Level, because she was determined to be difficult! She galloped up to greet me at the gate, which is super weird. She didn’t seem glad to see me or glad to work; I think she was expecting breakfast and was grumpy when she didn’t get it. She danced around while I was grooming and saddling her, though thanks to her new rope halter, she didn’t get very far. (Princess Pony broke another halter and lead rope a couple of weeks ago, so I bought a $10 rope halter and wished her good luck.)

"I never pull back, get this rope creation off of my face!"
“I never pull back, get this rope creation off of my face!”

My plan to ride in the outdoor so we’d have space to school canter lengthenings and you know, run through the tests, was totally thwarted by overnight rain. I walked Gina in the outdoor for a few minutes before I headed back in when she seemed to be having a hard time plowing through the muck. The inflatable pool was still in the corner of the indoor (did I tell y’all about the inflatable pool?), and Gina was still giving it a hard look. Later, she started screaming at the very handsome draft cross gelding Sundance who was barely visible outside. Sigh.

Nevertheless, we managed to school trot lengthenings and leg yields successfully! I’ve started riding Gina in a pair of short, blunt spurs, which has really helped me communicate more accurately, especially for lateral movements. Gina’s a nice horse for feeling when you’re asking for these things correctly. Moe sort of blunders around, ignoring his riders’ cues in favor of counter bending and going faster. Gina, on the other hand, has a beautiful lateral step, and as long as I keep my hands steady, think about moving sideways, and give her a slight nudge with my leg, she moves over nicely.


Our canter work was a dreadful mess- leaping into the canter with a hollowed back and above the bit, followed by a totally locked up jaw and inability to bend. I’m still thinking about what went wrong; our trot work had been lovely and light, with Gina supple and obedient. I did my usual half-halts before the transition to let her know something was up, applied leg, and hideous transition ensued. Maybe I was poking her a bit with my spurs. Maybe she was feeling stiffer than usual. Maybe she’s in heat. (This is my guess, based on the way she was whinnying at Sundance, who she typically ignores.) She’s been putting in nice canter work lately, so I’m mostly writing this incident off as a bad day.

We schooled the canter for what felt like an eternity- lots of transitions, lots of circles, lots of me reminding myself to pick my hands up out of my lap. We eventually achieved about a quarter circle’s worth of nice work, and I called it a day. We were both sweaty and gross, so I rinsed her off, reapplied deodorant to myself, and went to work.

I have both First Level tests memorized, although I’ll probably still have someone read for me. That is, if the show doesn’t get rained out! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

13 thoughts on “Schooling First Level movements”

  1. she looks super cute all dressed up and looking for Sundance! haha but yea, sorry it wasn’t the greatest schooling session

    1. That’s how she was, seriously!! Usually, she pins her ears and lunges at him, but she was screaming for him like she couldn’t live without him!

  2. Sounds like she’s in season! That can lock her back up some for the canter too. Hopefully it was just one of those days, and you’ll be just fine at the show! Hope it doesn’t rain on you!

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