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I kind of hesitated yesterday when I posted the “fail” part of the lesson first. To be honest, it was one of the best lessons May and I have had in a LONG time, and it would be pretty short sighted to define the whole lesson by 18 seconds. Either way though, I knew that the rest of the lesson needed its own post!

I showed up to the barn on Tuesday to find a freshly dragged ring and a new course. (No joke, I have never known a trainer who moves her courses around so often!)

The inspiration for the lesson was a grid that Lainey Ashker had shared on her instagram. In fact, my trainer said that she really thought of May with this one’s focus on a horse jumping over their back and really sitting before fences.

Obviously… we didn’t jump it that big. We started with the two oxers practically on the ground, and we first worked from the longer approach into the grid. We nailed it a few times in each direction before trying it the other direction. The short approach off the left consistently caused issues, so we decided to keep working on that turn before each course.

The nice thing about the grid was it forced you to set your rhythm early and then maintain it throughout the course.


The course came through the grid off the short approach, a sweeping left turn to a narrowish oxer, 6 or 7 strides bending line to another oxer, long approach to a vertical, finishing with a right turn around to a wide oxer.

[wpvideo 0vW6z7Rz ]

Our first time around the course was just a bit choppy. Obviously, I missed coming into that grid (story of my life). She didn’t really respect the small, narrow oxer at 2, so just kind of rolled past my half halt. I was thinking seven through the bending line and it was fine, but maybe a touch tight. The vertical was fine. Then I made some weird line decision to the last oxer? Like got ahead of myself, came off the rail, didn’t see a distance, and just kind of puttered over it. None of it was TERRIBLE, but it wasn’t good.

NT raised up the narrow oxer to more like BN height (I think?), and we tried again.

To me, that shows big improvement! I was able to make adjustments to the oxer to oxer line, a better distance made the 6 really easy.

I landed off the oxer line and rode… really forward? Like what I am thinking in this picture?

Me: “XC here we come!” May: “uh… ok crazy lady”

So I had to whoa pretty good coming into the vertical, so May didn’t get her lead. She DID end up fixing it before the oxer, but the counter cantering pushed us off our rhythm juuuuuust enough to mess up the distance. However, I rode forward and she gave me the long spot. Yay!

At this point, the camera died, so no more media hahaha. Our last course was the gymnastic, right turn to the pink (set a bit bigger), right turn bending around to the yellow and black oxer, right turn to the purple and blue plank we hadn’t jumped yet and finishing over the oxer to oxer line.


Shocker… I messed up the intro to the gymnastic. Then… I kind of got lost on my way to 2. I kind of rode to nothing again, but it was fine. When my pace, balance, and line are good, May can easily deal with a less than ideal distance. Amazing how that works, right? 😉

However, I rode forward after 2 and had a GREAT distance to 3. The loop to 4 was easy, so we turned before the gymnastic to get back to the oxer to oxer line. Seriously, as much as I get weird feelings about oxers, I LOVED that oxer to oxer line all day.

At this point, we decided to just try the gymnastic one more time, and I think I said I would try the right turn to number 2 again, since I messed that up last time. Welp, as you all know, I never made it to 2. By the end though, we had figured it out, but I don’t think anyone wanted to jinx it by trying to get it on video at that point! haha

All in all though, it was a really great lesson, and I feel good heading into Spring Bay in like 10 days!

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  1. Amanda C

    Good recovery from the fall! I like that despite some mistakes (which are inevitable for all of us) there was still a lot of learning and improvement going on. Seems like a perfect pre-season lesson!

    1. Emily

      Thanks! All the video is pre-fall… so I think you can tell how things really weren’t improving going over the grid. Either way though, I think we both ended feeling more confident then we started, which is always the goal!

      1. Amanda C

        I think anytime you end a lesson having learned something, and gained something to work on, it’s a win!

        1. Emily

          A Dressage schooling with lots of square turns is definitely in my future 😉

          1. Amanda C

            lord, I feel like I live half of my life cantering squares…

  2. the_everything_pony

    May is such a smart girl with her feet! Such a good lesson tho! You two were on fire! I can’t wait to hear about Spring Bay. I think you and May will rock 🙂

    1. Emily

      She’s super clever! People are always surprised by how much more athletic she is than she looks 😛

  3. martidoll123

    ha at least she got video of you ms. turn your cam on the last five minutes of the lesson (HA HA BUT THANK GOD YOU DID) Great job you guys look great. I love how May can zoom!

    1. Emily

      I wish it had been the last five minutes of the lesson.. and not the first 5 minutes of basically a second lesson hahaha

  4. Liz

    What a FUN looking/sounding lesson.

    1. Emily

      Thanks! It was a ton of fun and we definitely got a TON out of it.

  5. nadsnovik

    Nice! You definitely rode forward!! Looks totally great!!

  6. KC Scott

    I love fails. A lot of people don’t post them, but I think they make the best media. Especially when you get back on and KICK ASS like you did!

    That grid looks awesome and I’m definitely going to set that up.

    1. Emily

      I like the fails. It means I am trying something new and pushing limits juuuuust a bit.

      You really should try the grid! All the horses ended up going through it at one point or another this week, and you can see them all really use their bodies through it.

  7. Stacie Seidman

    Glad the rest of the lesson was great! It’s nice when you can come away from a lesson that included a fall focusing on all the good, rather than the 18 seconds of not good.

    1. Emily

      Thanks! Maybe I won’t still be sore by the time my next lesson rolls around. 😛

  8. L. Williams

    The second video really highlighted how slowed-down she got herself – really neat exercise!

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