Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tillie the lesson horse

Lately I have been trying to see if I can use Tillie for some of my advanced riders' lessons (Note: I do not want her being a lesson horse at all but hear me out). I am hesitant to do this for many obvious reasons (one being she is so unpredictable) but I do think it is good for her mentally to accept other riders then just myself...since she does sometimes to seem to protest riders. 

I think here and there, she can and should be able handle this just fine. I know which students can handle it and use the opportunity to teach my students some things the older "up-down" lesson horses do (like lateral movements) while also testing Tillie to see how well she can reproduce what training we have established. So for her its knowledge she knows so there is no confusion, just getting used to someone other then me asking. 

One of my advanced kids jumping Tillie earlier this summer on a quiet day...eeeek!

I have used her sporadically before but usually always on a lunge line for most of the lesson, especially cantering. Oddly enough, she tends to be pretty darn quiet for theory is they don't use the same amount of leg and just are less sure of the aids or leg usage so she happily thinks shes coasting and getting away with doing less. I dont want her falling into this mindset though, hence the whole not doing this very often. 

Tillie LOVES attention and is very sweet with the kids.
I have one talented student as of late that has ridden her now the past two Sundays with me being sick... I have at least been able to use the lessons as an opportunity to educate this rider on handling a forward thinking horse properly while getting those basic buttons pushed for Tillie to have her remember them.

She handles her very well and the first time Tillie got a little stronger for her in canter, she did a great job sitting tall and still listen to my voice rather then freeze and get her supple enough again to stop bracing (which is what she always is doing when the heavy/strong rushing gait happens). 

I was pleasantly surprised the first lesson with this rider where we worked on a trot canter trot exercise. Both of them nailed it.
There were times where I could barely lead my horse...
and here she is behaving like a lady for my student.
The following lesson when we built on that and talked more about leads, the student struggled a bit getting Tillie to stay as quiet. I believe it was from overusing leg and Tillie just got offended and never recovered and settled back down. 

The rider stayed calm though and was determined. She eventually did get through the exercise, just not as smoothly as the week prior. Was it as quiet from Tillie as I would have liked? no...BUT she did behave according to Tillie standards. In hindsight, while Tillie's forwardness in the lesson made me a bit frustrated and thinking she hasnt progressed, she really has. If her bad day was just that she had a bit more bracing going on and slightly more forward over the leaping through the air, tail swishing and other shenanigans - I consider that a win. 


  1. I see the pros and cons of both. I agree that it is good for Tilly and good for the students to experience each other in a relatively controlled environment. That being said I personally wouldn't do it, but I don't like to share. :) Go lesson pony Tilly!

    1. I would be happiest her not being a lesson horse...without divulging too much info, it is something I may have to try to do. As you said I see pros and cons and for now open to it until I notice any negative changes in her training.

  2. I don't see a problem with it. Lesson horses can be pretty solid citizens. The students and Tillie will likely learn lots from it. And as long as you're still riding her she won't forget her training/manners.