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Ok or like… all the time hahaha. Recently, I have been having a real issue getting May off of my inside leg and into my outside rein going right. (So right leg to left hand) This isn’t a new issue, and it was definitely something that was exasperated by the wolf tooth on the left side of May’s mouth. I have even, apparently, gotten REALLY good at hiding it. However, I knew it wasn’t correct, and I was really struggling with how to fix it. I also wasn’t sure if it was a ME problem, since I am right side dominant, or a May problem. So I texted NT, and I asked if, instead of a lesson, she could ride May, and I could watch.


I got there in time to help her tack up, and we chatted a bit about the issue. Then, she hopped on up. And May did what May likes to do when someone new gets on. She turned into a drunken sailor. This is… not normal for draft crosses, in my experience. Most of them want to be straight and board like and heavy. May? She wants to move every part of her body in a new direction and see if you can put her back together again.

NT had no problem with it… She warmed her up similar to how I do it, encouraging May to move over her back and into the contact. NT immediately picked up on what I had been feeling, and she was surprised at how well I had been hiding it. At this point, I realized that this was the first pro ride May had gotten since… early 2016? I think that has to be right. NT gave me a compliment on how well I have done with her… if only she really knew where we had started.

Good thing her neck isn’t any longer. Also, the only piece of equipment I still use from this pic is that saddle pad and the bit. 

Pretty quickly, NT realized that the problem wasn’t so much her willingness to move off my right leg, but in her desire for me to hold up the right ride of her face. She would move off the right leg by swinging her haunches out, while pushing her shoulder forward and in. So instead of a pretty curve through her body, we were getting a horse whose front end and back end weren’t really following the same line. I need to show her that I won’t hold her up on the right side, while also using my outside leg to keep the haunches following the front end.

At the canter, thing’s got even worse. I mentioned that, when I did get her off the inside shoulder, she would then fall apart to the outside. NT immediately identified that her canter to the right made me want to sit to the outside, instead of the inside, of the horse. When I sat on the outside, pushed her off my inside leg, and struggled to get  her on the left rein, it is no surprise that she fell of the outside. Well… duh…outdoor-cantering

She also demonstrated spiraling in to a smaller circle before asking for the downward transition. On a larger circle, May was able to really throw her weight through her inside shoulder in the transition and do the transition off the outside aids. On a smaller circle, the rider can really set her back on that outside hind through the transition. Good stuff!

The final exercise was cleaning up the canter transitions. NT did this through a leg yield towards the rail, picking up the canter, and immediately turning. This got her off the inside front leg before the transition, through the transition, and then immediately turning kept her from falling on it once she was in the gait. It was really cool to watch as, by the third attempt, May had really figured out how to use her body better and lift through her shoulders through the transition, instead of throwing her head up and barreling through the aids.

We chatted a bit about the difference between training a draft cross vs. a thoroughbred as they cooled out. And then NT gave me some homework:

  1. Serpentines – Make sure the haunches are really following the shoulders in all right turns, square off left turns a bit, and keep her right shoulder up and light on the right rein all the time.
  2. Lots of transitions – Transitions will make her stronger in this new way of holding herself, but she might need smaller circles to do them both relaxed and correctly.
  3. Random leg yields – leg yields are important, but she is anticipating where they start and stop. She needs to really understand that the outside rein helps moderate the leg yield, so I need to put them into weird places in the ring. Some leg yields at the canter too.
  4. Sit with the bend ALWAYS – I cannot give up my seat because of where she is trying to throw me. Using my seat will reinforce the leg and hand aids.

There’s probably more. I am sure there is more. I had a serious case of barn blindness through the whole ride. Like how did the horse that I bought go from this:

May Start

To This (and honestly, she looked even better with a pro up):

Can’t wait to see what she looks like once I figure out how to really get her on that left rein! Are you an AA that occasionally throws a pro up? Or are you 100% DIY? Or as a pro, do you think it’s helpful to get on your clients’ horses every now and then?

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  1. martidoll123

    Poor Emily got thrown on Remus so many times because he was either being an ass OR doing what May does (wrong way wrong direction of his body LOL). I have no problem throwing a pro on my horse. Luckily for jumping I never had to throw Sally on him though she would of if she needed to.

    I think it does them good to have a pro ride them esp if it is one you trust.

    Look at fancy dancy May! SO CUTE 🙂 I think it was totally worth it having her ride her. BUT OH MY THE HOMEWORK 🙂

    1. Emily

      Yeah. That’s where we’re at. May will jump anything for me as long as I steer and kick like 90% of the way there… literally. But Dressage is hard, and she isn’t built for it. AND somehow, in Dressage, I manage to get into my head of OMG I AM RUINING IT ALL… which is never really the case.

  2. Allison @ Pony Reboot

    Juice got his first pro ride in many months the other night and it was badly needed. I don’t mean to let him get away with being stuck, but it happens. She is a good reminder for him!

    1. Emily

      When you only ride one horse a few times a week, it gets so easy to begin to think that the way that horse goes is just “how it is.” Throwing a pro up gives such a different perspective.

  3. hellomylivia

    Pro rides 4 lyfe! I rarely used training rides for the first 18 mo. or so of owning Frankie, but we eventually got to the point where we were both entering new territory- having someone teach Frankie the right answers at the same time they were teaching me how to ask the right questions has moved us forwards leaps and bounds. We wouldn’t be able to do half the cool stuff we do if it weren’t for the additional pro rides!

    1. Emily

      Yes! You found yourself a couple of awesome pros. Finding the right system definitely makes a difference. (Although – I think Frankie might sometimes think he would rather just be someone’s pleasure pony for life)

  4. L. Williams

    There is definitely a time and a place for Pro rides!

  5. roamingridersite

    Nobody ever wanted to ride Gem and I never pushed the issue. The fall out dealing with a pissed off mare when someone else dared to ride her was never worth it. I hope that if my current guy ever gets sound again that I can throw the pro up on him to tune him up

    1. Emily

      Hahaha oh I feel you on the pissed off mare thing. People around here tend to get on May and try to ride her like a thoroughbred gelding and… that just doesn’t work.

  6. the_everything_pony

    May is looking so great! You really have done a great job with her!

    It depends on the pro lol. Amber knows the difference, and will be slow and polite and calm for an AA or kids (she also knows she doesn’t have to work so hard lol) but will get super nervous for a pro. If I know the pro is light and fair and good with nervous horses, I’m all for them riding. I love watching the pros ride my own horse cause I learn so much. But a pro that I’m not sure of or seems a little hard at times I’ll usually pass.

    1. Emily

      Yeah. I have definitely skipped over pros that only really ride Thoroughbreds around here. I am sure they are all wonderful people, but the tools you need for a 15.2H draft cross that wears an 81″ blanket is different from what you need for a 16.2H thoroughbred who wears a 76″ blanket.

  7. Emma

    Sounds like a great experience with a lot of useful takeaways!! It’s always nice when a pro can validate what we are feeling haha

    1. Emily

      Yes it is! And give you tools to help resolve the issue. Rode May last night and it was a massive improvement

  8. KC Scott

    I’m all about the pro-rides life. No one ever really offered to ride P before, then it was maybe my 3rd or 4th lesson with Bobby when he asked to ride him. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little offended, but he said he wanted to ride him because you can feel more than you can see. It’s helped exponentially, in that he can coach me more accurately, and now I happily hand my horse over to him on somewhat of a regular basis. P looks easy but he’s really not, and it’s not until you climb aboard that you realize that.

    The pictures are amazing! She seriously looks like a different horse. You’ve done such a great job with her!

    1. Emily

      Thank you! It’s so easy to get bogged down by all the challenges now. Sometimes you have to remember where you came from!

  9. Sleepy Equestrian

    When I do finallyyy, someday, eventually re-enter the horse owning world, I’d love to get a pro on them at some point even if it’s just for the perspective (likely lots of work too tho haha!). May’s looking like she’s going places and it sounds like your homework is only going to continue that 🙂

    1. Emily

      It was definitely a massive help. Can’t wait for my next lesson now. ?

  10. Tracy

    I’ve used pro and working student rides in the past, and I think they’re really useful. I like to do things myself, but I also know there’s a lot I can’t do. That said, I’m really enjoying bringing Niko along on my own right now!

    1. Emily

      I agree! I am one of those people that enjoys doing “the work”, but I also need a pro every now and then to get us through a roadblock. And (for the record) Niko is coming along AMAZINGLY

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