Flat Days: Musing on Draw Reins and Vacations

Had a good flat school on Thursday night – once again, Schmoodle came out with ants in his pants, but once again, he settled and produced some lovely work.

I elected for draw reins today as I was encountering some resistance in the jaw and diving in and out with the shoulders that I was finding difficult to correct. Full disclosure, I’m not a huge draw reins fan. I know many people who never flat without them, and honestly, I don’t get it – how do you trust in the quality of your work (namely, hind-end engagement versus headset) without them? (Honest question here.)  That being said, I like them attached to the billets or side D-ring of the girth when I need to emphasize straightness once in a while.

Despite a few struggles in trot, the canter work was very good. I was able to put my leg on and create a forward, round canter even in the ~*~scary corner~*~ where all the jumps are stored. I added in the two cavalletti we worked on in my last lesson, this time upping the ante and alternating between eight strides and eleven strides each time through. Schmoodle was super responsive, not strong after the very flowing eight, and nicely balanced in the very holding eleven. Success!

However, Schmoodle’s coming out tense and spooky two days in a row, after last week being so quiet and relaxed, makes me think I have to integrate more “vacation” days into our regular schooling, as I think he gets sour/bored by too much ring work. Prior to last week, I had spent the last month riding bareback due to an ankle condition that prevented me from riding normally (more in another post.) Schmoodle LOVED this and just generally seemed like a happy horse. He still seems like he’s in a good mood – always very happy to see me and come in to work – but I need to be conscious of mixing in some days where we tool around and have fun, I think.

Or, Schmoodle needs to come to terms with the fact that he basically works five hours a week at things that are pretty easy in the grand scheme of things. Not exactly slave labour, there, buddy.

Loafing in the field: a favourite pastime

Loafing in the field: a favourite pastime. Unfortunately, you have a job, Schmoodle.


  1. Body control! I need to be very cognizant of what I’m doing with my body, especially as I ride alone most of the time. I have worked hard on my leg and hand position and am pretty happy at the moment, but I find myself influencing too much with my body a lot of the time. I need to keep my posting very quiet, even when Schmoodle gets stuck and looky; and in canter, not use my body to create the forward or sideways that needs to come from my leg. Shoulders like a princess, hips like a harlot, as they apparently say in dressage world.

2 thoughts on “Flat Days: Musing on Draw Reins and Vacations

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