3rd session with our coach : made in Heaven

Joli15Fev15-01PMThis is Joli, my 4 yr Portugese Crusado (his dentist says he’s 5, that doesn’t make any kind of significant difference to me anyway)

Today Joli and I had our montlhy training session with our coach, Nicolas Podetti. Nicolas is a French horseman who has spent two years studying with -and utlimately working for- John and Josh Lyons in the USA. No need to say he’s super skilled, and it bears saying that on top of being an amazing trainer, he’s also a brilliant teacher

Joli15Fev15-02And since I need just as much work as my horse (if not more) that is Godsend…

Joli15Fev15-08We had our very first session in December, then one in January. Today was our third. I’ve had Joli since late July 2014, going on 7 months. I can easily say that one session a month with Nicolas has trumped weeks and months of struggling by myself..

Joli15Fev15-04Obviously, I can’t shoot myself riding, meaning that every time you see pics of me on my horse, one or the other of my photgrapher buddies has been kind enough to assist. ALL pictures in this post courtesy of M. Claude Macé, “festae” for those familiar with the AlphaDxD French Sony cameras discussion board. Post processing done by your servant 😉

Joli15Fev15-09Basically, for those not familiar with the Western way of riding, what we’re after is a horse that looks free and easy in his moves, with a relaxed neck, ideally flexed at the poll, and rythmic gait. It’s  a horse that seemingly “carries himself”, on a lose rein, without the rider having a death grip on its head. It moves forward easy and relaxed, but is also very good at backing up fluidly and without fuss, and capable of sharp turns on the haunches and powerful stops

Joli15Fev15-05This would be a pretty good example

Joli15Fev15-10When I bought Joli last summer, he was *just* broke to ride. He had about 12 weeks of riding altogether, and was so green he couldn’t even walk a straight line ! He’d wobble to one side, and sway to the other if you picked on a rein to set him straight

Joli15Fev15-03So there is a pretty huge difference in his level now, and a good deal of it can be credited to this man’s help

Joli15Fev15-28The best part of it is that no matter what hard work he has us doing, the atmosphere always remains warm and relaxed

Joli15Fev15-34Today we worked at a bunch of stuff

Joli15Fev15-31From and bending and counter-bending, to yielding shoulders and hips

Joli15Fev15-29Joli was amazingly focused, trying and willing the whole time, sign that he really is maturing

Joli15Fev15-25We’re starting to study the pivot, which will hopefully morph into a fullblown Western “spin” later on (about two years from now, lol)

Joli15Fev15-26He got it right, he crossed his front foot over !

Joli15Fev15-24Proper response = instant release. That’s how they learn !

Joli15Fev15-23Sure, my horse is no Quarter Horse, and there might be maneuvers he never fully masters due to his conformation. Who cares… he’s my buddy

Joli15Fev15-18When he had trouble “finding” the proper move in the pivot, our coach came to the rescue and litteraly showed him the way

Joli15Fev15-19Atta boy

Joli15Fev15-33The “lope”, or canter, is where he is showing the most significant improvements. It also happens to be my favorite gait as this horse is so darn comfortable !

Joli15Fev15-32Claude was using his recently aquired Sony SLT-A77II, and he’s not entirely familiar with all the settings yet. I could have knocked him dead for closing his fast 2.8 zoom down to… a maddening F5, which resulted in a bunch of blurry shots. But he made up for that by many great ones, so I’m super grateful for his help

Joli15Fev15-21Backing up is a fundamental, useful in so many ways, and we used, and abused, it

Joli15Fev15-20Joli has a lovely back-up that we established on the ground and successfully transitioned to the saddle

Joli15Fev15-16Can you tell I love my boy ?

Joli15Fev15-17Nicolas guiding and supporting every step

Joli15Fev15-13In horsemanship, the end goal is important, but the real treat is the journey


Joli15Fev15-11I don’t mean to sound like we got it made, because we sure haven’t. But there’s been a lot of progress lately and I’m mighty happy with that. In a way, the fact that he’s unregistered and might very well never even compete allows us to have no real agenda, other than working with him where he’s at, and to have a real “conversation”, where he’s the student but somehow he’s also my teacher. I’m deeply grateful for this horse and all he’s bringing me, and to all the people who are being supportive in the way of coaching, photographs, or simply putting up with my equine obsession on a daily basis 😉


About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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6 Responses to 3rd session with our coach : made in Heaven

  1. Laurent says:

    I can really tell your horse (or you and the horse) is improving from your pictures! I am slightly confused about your horse’s non registration….what does it mean? Why does it change something about your agenda?

    Good to hear from you, as always!


    • marla2008 says:

      Thx Laurent that’s very heartwrming ! Joli has no official registration in any Studbook, in other words he’s a mutt, although I have a fairly good idea about at least half of his bloodlines. But having no pedigree bans him from any major competition. We might be able to enter some “amateur/owner” or “novice” or whatever really low class someday, but that isn’t enough of a goal to put any kind of time pressure on us. Which is brilliant, because time is the number one tool to have, and the last thing you want to be short on 😉

  2. marla2008 says:

    AH ah, welcome to the horse world, which is elitist, by nature. Acquiring a fully registered prospect would have ensured me that he was more physically and mentally suited to this type of training, and also that he would have wide access to a much broader range of competitive classes. It also would have cost me two to three times what I paid for Joli… As a “mutt”, he might be able to enter the odd class in a lower ranking event, but that’s about it… That’s how it is, and American breeds bred in France are ridiculously expensive, which I truly couldn’t afford.

  3. Laurent says:

    Would you need to have a registered horse to compete at the olympics? I would expect the universal games to be, you know…truly universal

  4. marla2008 says:

    Hmm, that’s a pretty good question. I think Olympics would be ok since he is at least identified in the French equine databank, but paradoxally enough, having no known pedigree will still ban him from certain competitions. Not that it’s a big deal anyway, three months back I didn’t even *think* about competing, ever. But working with a coach (who’s really good at boosting our confidence and making us believe we can actually achieve goals) has made a huge change in my approach, and now I’d like to have a solid goal to work towards. Reining classes is just that, unfortunately it is extremely complex and demanding, with little lower rungs on the ladder to start stepping up. But be sure all my faithful readers will be kept informed in real time 😉

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