Nashville and I participated in all three of the riding sessions in this month’s Joel Conner clinic. I’ve been working with her for about 2 months and have really enjoyed getting to know her. It was great to get to take part in the clinic with her and develop new goals in our work together.

Nashville is a sweet, level-headed mare. One of my main areas of focus now is getting her to be more punctual in response to my requests for upward transitions, as her demeanor is more low than high energy. Joel helped me in working with picking up her energy under saddle and getting her to be more timely when I ask her to pick up a gait. She picks up a soft feel well and is very responsive to seat and rein aids, and also to leg aids for lateral movement. She does well under a rider with quiet hands. Forward momentum is her (or rather, my) biggest struggle, although once she’s in a gait it’s relatively easy to keep her there.

Since taking her on, Nashville and I have been working on increasing muscle and balance. I want to improve her balance in general as she’s still learning how to properly use her body under saddle, but also to help rectify the problem of swapping leads behind at the lope. We’ve been backing circles both in hand and under saddle, riding figure eights and serpentines, doing hindquarters/front quarters exercises, walking hills on the property, and utilizing trot poles. She still swaps leads when on a smaller circle such as in the round pen or when bending to a stop, but during the clinic she held her leads all the way around the arena. I counted that as a minor victory. Now she and I just need to incorporate more focus on transitions during our rides together. I’m excited to get to work!