Dressage training with Jenny Eriksson: better reaction from the leg

I was a bit anxious going to this lesson because ever since our last lesson with Jenny, Vallu has been feeling a bit sluggish and behind the leg. Unless I've been just riding him long and low, he's just not been that into his work and he's lost his spooky & hot mode. Although I'd been glad that I'd to work less on trying to stay on (😅) it did make me realise how much I adore his normal attitude towards work and forward going-ness. Sometimes you don't realise how much you love something until you lose it!
Having to use old photos because I was all alone at this lesson

But during this lesson, Vallu seemed to return to normal 🙌🏻 I had two small spooks in the corner that took me WAY longer than normal to get under control simply because I hadn't been expecting them and my reaction time had clearly gotten worse over the last 2 months. The gallop after the one big spook lasted an entire circle simply because I was too busy giggling at him! I can't even put into words how relieved I am that the wild/hot headed side of him has returned. I think the heat and humidity combination of the Finnish summers got to him and made him incredibly lethargic (and before anyone comments: yes I have had his saddle checked and both the chiropractor and equine massage therapist have checked him and given him the all clear so he's NOT been in any pain!)
Although I've been consistently riding so that I've worked a lot on a good forward reaction from the leg aid, today's lesson focus on getting a better reaction from the leg full stop. Not only is he meant to go forwards when I ask him to go forwards, he also needs to listen and turn when I ask him to turn with my leg aids, e.g the classic "outside leg to turn". Every single exercise we did was focused on this, which was fantastic - another great way to improve as a rider and to also make the horse straighter! 💪🏻

 The two best exercises were the 3 looped serpentine and loops coming 5-10 meters off the track, since both of these required lots of concentration to get Vallu going softly in a nice relaxed outline and moving 100% from my leg aids rather than hands. We spent most of the lesson in trot after finding a fantastic trot thanks to the good old 20m circle, and the loops coming off the track ensure that I managed to get Vallu soft and elastic on both reins.  Varying the size of the loop was a great exercise in that Vallu could never take over as he had to listen to what exactly I wanted and boy was he a good teddy bear 🐻 And having to get him off the track purely from my leg aids meant that my hands were totally still and all I could do was to have soft wrists and active fingers. My new mantra when riding him is soft wrists still hands soft wrists still hands! I do think most of our problems come from his neck tension and my too active hands - I'm getting a lot better at this and throughout this lesson I never got told off for being too fiddly with my reins, yay. I never knew that varying the loop between 5 and 10 meters could be so useful and I'm SO glad I've got such a great exercise in my tool box.

The serpentine loops was just another way to confirm that he was on both reins and moving away from my leg. Since this was my riding exercise of the month last month, it was no surprise to me that it went well and Jenny only had me do it a few times. She said to do this as homework but to also include trot-walk-trot transitions (5+ steps of walk) over the centre line as he clearly likes to do something like this which he excels in and therefore gets lots of pats!
The view at 8.30am 💙
I'm so glad she's back next month so it's only a four week wait rather than the two months we've just had. She did say he was "excellent" today for the first time ever and I couldn't help but agree. Definitely a proud mother moment! Just hoping that next time the lesson won't be at 9am because the crack of dawn starts don't agree with me 😴💤


  1. Ah, it must feel good to be back! I've experienced the "lack" of spooking myself lately, and I am enjoying it as long as it lasts(I am guessing spooking kicks in for full when the cold sets in). It's good to hear you are making progress!

    1. God I hope so. I'm actually looking forward to proper autumn just so that I get my normal horse back!!

  2. That horse is just too beautiful for words! Glad everything has been working out!

  3. this makes me feel like maybe i should practice more serpentines and loops.... sounds like a great ride!

  4. I find it so much hard to ride Delight when I have to push him. I find it much easier to bring him back a little when need me. You had me laughing when you were giggling at his spookiness. We love our horses for who they are, right? Glad he's doing well and back to normal. It seems that your homework was a success!