Lesson Recap: Cupcake Inspiration

(This lesson was two weeks ago and I’m just now getting to posting about it. The work situation is bad, I’m telling you 😦 )


I think that Kim works in bigger chunks than Michele. Where Michele explains every step and every move I should make, Kim says “move his shoulders over” and expects me to do it. Where I appreciate and have learned a TON from Michele’s way, I think Kim’s way may mesh with me better at the moment. I’m too stressed, and already too detail-oriented. I need to focus on fewer details and more relaxation and feel.

When I drove up to the barn for my lesson a few weeks ago (augh!), I was excited and nervous to see a horse trailer in the driveway. Kim had brought two horses – one a Percheron/Arab named Cupcake who would be my mount for the evening! He topped out at third level, but he’s trained. He has all sorts of buttons and skills.

Annye, turn your damn toes in.

Honestly, I didn’t learn a lot of “facts” from Cupcake. Really, I got him round, then trotted him, did some shoulder-in, cantered (WHOA that lift off), and tried to memorize what all of this feels like.

…What it feels like to have a sensitive, well-trained mid-level horse. What I want Robbye to be someday.

And that’s what Kim wanted for me. She wanted me to understand what it means to be on the aids, what it means to be forward, and what it means to be powered from behind. I can (and do!) watch all the videos, read all the blogs, and devour all the books, but if I never feel it, I’ll certainly never be able to train it!

After riding Cupcake for an hour or so, I tacked up Robbye and put her through her new-found paces.

Ah yes, the ever elusive Submissive Robbye.

Kim seemed very very impressed with my progress with her. She was schooling her UL horse during our lesson, and at one point got distracted riding and talking to the barn owner. I took the opportunity to kick Robbye’s butt, and when Kim returned to us we were round and forward and the mare was submissive. I need to learn how to ride aggressively even when someone is watching me, or I’m never going to be able to show! A couple mechanical tidbits Kim pointed out to me, either while I was on Robbye or Cupcake (usually both):

  • I tend to bend backwards (to the outside) while going to the right, and tend to over-bend to the left. This is probably because of my own anatomy and left-handedness, and it a habit I need to break.
  • I’m back into the habit of breaking my wrists. Thumbs on top! I should feel like I’m holding a Little Tikes car steering wheel.


  • To ask for the shoulder in, I pull the shoulders off of the wall, make sure I have the correct bend, then use my inside leg slightly forward to encourage the sideways + forward.
  • To ask for the half pass, I execute a shoulder in and then move the haunches over with my outside leg. If I lose the movement, start over with the shoulder in!
  • Pushing my weight onto my toes (without changing my seat!) creates an incredible downward transition. I felt it on Cupcake, and then it immediately made a difference on Robbye. This is like a reiner’s sliding stop, where they kick their legs forward, to a much much lesser degree.

I spent two weeks perfecting what I learned at this lesson, using the inspiration I got from Cupcake, then had another lesson with Kim this Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get that recap written up in the next…month or so. I’m totally failing at this blog thing!

12 thoughts on “Lesson Recap: Cupcake Inspiration

  1. Sounds like a really successful night! It is awesome to ride other horses, you always can learn something for from them! And that photo of Robbye looks wonderful! Nice work!

    PS is that Kim Patterson’s Cupcake? 🙂


      1. Such a small world! I figured there can’t be too many bay geldings with a blaze named Cupcake ;). I used to train with George Williams when Kim and Haley did. Haley and I competed together in Jr/Yg and were really good friends :). How I miss those days!!! You’ll have to tell Kim I said hi…It has been a while!!


      2. Oh my gosh! That’s too funny. Are you still around here?

        You weren’t training in western back then were you? I know she’s mentioned that her daughter does reining, I think?


  2. i’m super behind too (thus the late comments haha) – but it sounds like an awesome lesson. i’m so new to dressage and don’t really have any ‘feel’ yet, and while my mare has given me glimmers i’d love to ride a trained up school master just like Cupcake. (also – percheron x arab?? kinda nuts, right? lol)


    1. Ya, the cross is a little strange but it works for him. Really, he looks like a draft cross…but then he’ll do something that just SCREAMS arab!

      His owner, my trainer, is active in the Arab world. So she shows him in the half Arab dressage shows and stuff 🙂


  3. 1. Percheron crosses are so totally the best ever 🙂
    2. Yay for schoolmaster rides! I seriously think that’s one of the best things you can do for your riding, it gives you a sense of what you should be working towards.
    3. Sounds like you learned a lot and have been really getting into gear! Seriously though, two rides in a row? I’d be jello after that! Super impressed that you managed to have two productive rides in a row (oh man I need to get in better shape…)


    1. LOL the only reason I was able to do it is because 1) I was on a high from riding Cupcake and 2) I wasn’t working very hard with Robbye – just trying to translate from what Cupcake had taught me 😉

      It was seriously SO special though. I feel so lucky!

      Liked by 1 person

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