Thursday, May 3, 2018

Of Huskies, Horses, Photography, a Clinic, and Happiness

I had a whirlwind of a weekend in the DC area this past weekend!

Austen's magical sunset spot near her new barn

Earlier this spring, Austen messaged me to let me know Janet Foy would be at her barn old barn putting on a clinic. Remembering past blog write-ups of Janet's clinics from other years, I quickly moved my one weekend commitment and put this clinic on my calendar to audit.

From the moment I arrived Thursday evening to the moment I left Sunday afternoon, Austen and I were go-go-go. There was much to do and much to see! Sleep was almost an after thought. My two country huskies agreed that the fast-paced city life was exhausting!


The clinic itself was really freaking cool. I've been to only a few clinics and this one was definitely with the most knowledgeable person to-date. It was really cool to see such a variety of riders and horses who were working across so many different levels.


My favorite pair to watch was one of the young riders and her 6 year old horse who are currently working on second level. Such a beautiful pair!

Janet ended up using this rider as an example for so many things most of us do poorly, picking out key things many riders earlier in the day had done. It was crazy to see how "off" those things were after watching the young rider; sometimes you don't realize how crooked or incorrect your aids are until you see someone doing things so impeccably.

My favorite part was when Janet had the rider scoot way over to the right, collapse her left side, and put her right leg way behind the girth  - a contortion many earlier riders (currently in the audience) had put themselves in while asking for lateral work earlier in the day. As the rider collapsed through her left side for the demo, Janet told her, "No, MORE." To which we all giggled. She then noted to all of us how absurd this was and we could all see how incorrect it really was. Such a great learning moment!

I took away so many valuable tidbits from the clinic. I'm quite new to this world, so my takeaways are vastly different (and likely very elementary) from many others, but that's all part of the learning process! The spectrum of learning is really cool, and it was a true sign of how good a clinician Janet is that all levels of riders benefited from her teaching.

I won't expound greatly on my notes - they're mostly tailor-made to facilitate my work with Griffin and Q, but I've included them below for posterity.
  • Half halt is to keep inside hind on  ground half second longer
  • When posting keep inside leg on when rising 
  • Work at leg yielding then get back on circle and inside hind should begin crossing under body better 
  • Don't practice a walk that isn't on the test
  • Don't let them trot faster into canter - not good to let their front end pull them into it - when they do that pull them right back down to normal trot and say "no" then try again into the canter without rushing
  • Every horse uses head and neck to balance. We have to convince them to trust us to be in charge of their balance.
  • Put more strength in your position before asking for something that causes them to pull against you in protest so you can meet that resistance without losing your position (spoken to a rider who was on a horse that loved to forcefully take the reins away from her)


  • Inside rein is turn signal for turn on haunches shouldn't have much pressure on it for long. Do square turns not circle turns. Ride on a big square.
  • Inside rein keeps the bend, outside rein keeps half halting and getting longer
  • Do the above and let the reins slowly inch longer so they stay in frame while getting longer and swinging more through the back - something to do at the end of a ride. Never walk in that stretchy frame tho.
  • When transitioning to walk, don't allow long rein until 5 to 6 walk strides in contact at medium walk
  • Outside rein half halts to slow down and keep tempo while inside rein keeps bend
  • If whatever you're doing causes a rhythm problem stop. Rhythm is the most important thing. Make sure you have it.   
  • Headlights (boobs). Point the girls in the direction of travel.  
  • Outside rein can touch neck inside rein should not. Stretching into outside rein. Bending away from inside rein.
  • Leg should be active! Tap tap relax tap tap relax. Don't move it back and just leave it on forever. Need to reward them by removing the pressure.
  • Use a pendulum of trot...long then short, long then short, etc. Remember to keep the rhythm the same!!!


  • Haunches in does not have the front legs crossing.
  • Shoulder fore going into turn on haunches. Then as you're turning - rein back like you're going to 'whoa stop' then turn. But you have to let go or you hold them there. Timing timing timing.
  • Whip behind leg says go more forward. Leg on croup says sit more.  
  • Before the rein back the halt has to be settled. Rein back should be fluid and horse should sink down. Diagonal pairs.
  • "It's okay, I'm not here to be loved." - Janet, spoken to a horse who was acting out after his rider laughed and noted that he was really hating Janet in that moment.
  • You don't need collection without bend.
  • Acting out. Stop hard then be nice with reins once they are stopped. Hands low if they are throwing their head. (Spoken to the rider with the horse who liked to take the reins from her; he hated hated HATED when she began correcting his habit!)
  • When you come into the ring with rubber reins the first thing the judge says is - oh he pulls!
  • The more impulsion you have the more submission you need


As I expected it would, the clinic was a great kick in the pants for me to get back to it with my dressage work on Griffin and Q. I'm really excited for the months ahead!

After auditing for awhile on Saturday, we headed to Middleburg, VA, to the Tack Exchange. I was on a quest for some tall boots at a steal. Unfortunately, I didn't find any within budget - but I did score some Kerrits tights for REAL CHEAP and a great short sleeve show shirt. Now I just need to find some freaking TIME to ride and prep for shows and endurance rides since I've got an expanded wardrobe for these things!

Dogs who roll in unidentified dead/decaying things get cross-tied and bathed.

While in Middleburg, we rendezvoused with Olivia! There was no doubt she knew who we were from a distance considering we had three huskies. #sledteamstatus I quickly passed off Taiga to Olivia and we sauntered down the street, three horse girls with three huskies, to find a lunch spot.


As we sat enjoying our happy hour fair, it dawned on me that Austen and I both had our cameras with us. There had been some casual talk of going to meet Frankie afterward and knowing Olivia had been wishing for some more media recently I threw an offer out there, "You know, we both have our cameras...." And boom, we were heading to see Frankie and become the strangest paparazzi of huskies and cameras he'd ever witness.


Fortunately, Frankie is a freaking SAINT. He barely batted an eye at the crazy dogs our our cameras snapping constantly. Seriously. He is THE SWEETEST guy. Olivia is the luckiest girl ever to have him in her life - and her adoration for him is so very evident in the way she constantly looks at him, smiles at him, and talks about him. I wish a horse like that on every little horse-crazy girl at some point in her life.

20180428 Olivia and Frankie_23

I even nabbed some of those "black background" photos for Olivia as she headed to the indoor for her ride.

20180428 Olivia and Frankie_87-220180428 Olivia and Frankie_9220180428 Olivia and Frankie_8320180428 Olivia and Frankie_79

But seriously, y'all. These two. What a relationship. So many quiet touches and looks between them. They've got their own little language and it's the sweetest thing. Olivia's fiancee was a very, very wise man to involve Frankie in his proposal! It's good to have the big guy on his side knowing how much Olivia adores him.

20180428 Olivia and Frankie_4120180428 Olivia and Frankie_61

The rest of the weekend was full of history lessons from Austen and a photoshoot with Lyra in and around her home. The very lovely weather coupled with so many blooms and new leaves made for SUCH a pretty weekend.

We are beauty. We are grace. Well, maybe Austen is. But I'm ridiculous.

All of the photography nerdery with Austen coupled with so much horse time, some hiking, much laughter, and lots of husky-hair made my heart so, so happy. The dogs and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and can't wait for next time!


  1. What a wonderful weekend full of learning, gorgeous photos, good friends, and huskies! 😍

  2. LOVE! I'm having serious withdrawl symptoms from the weekend. Can life just be like that forever?!

    1. Me, too! And YES! Except, like, maybe with more sleep lol

  3. YAY!!! What a wonderful weekend and I am jealous you got to meet Frankie and Olivia! They are relationship goals for sure.

  4. Aaaaah what a lovely weekend! Lucky!

  5. oh man, so much fun. and so many good notes from JF!! thanks for noting them all down!! so bummed i missed you this past weekend, guess you'll just have to come back up sometime soon!

    1. Sounds like you had a pretty amazing weekend yourself. I'll definitely be back that way...hopefully for a horse show!

  6. Janet Foy is the BEST, and such a wealth of knowledge. Loved reading your notes! That is so amazing you got to meet up with other bloggers, and meet Frankie! I adore the photos!

    1. She's full of knowledge and snark - the best combo haha

  7. Such a good time! And lovely pictures! And great notes! Certainly a lot of good stuff that I'll be writing down too.

    1. It was a hell of a weekend in all the best ways 🙂

  8. There's so much happening in this post. Sounds like it was all a lot of fun.

    1. It was SO much fun. Been needing a weekend like that haha

  9. What a fantastic time!! So happy you all got to get together for non-stop horse girl time! <3

    1. Horse girls are basically the best - but I think we all know that by now

  10. Thanks for sharing your notes! Lots of helpful stuff in there and it makes me want to go find a clinic, STAT. And oh my, is Frankie a LOOKER!

  11. What an awesome time! This is super outside anything I've ever seen, but the feeling you have reminded me of how I felt after attending the clinics at the Equine Affair. So many light bulbs were going off, and I just wanted to drink it all in.

    I love the dressage clinicians because they seem to be a different kind of "horse whisperer." They're more like yogi's or acupuncturists. They make these magical micro-touches here or there, and the... things happen, lol.

    The town you were in looks super cute, too. Glad you got to go do this and hang with these ladies! PS as always your portrait skills are on point (but maybe improving?) Expressions and emotions are really starting to shine more, or maybe it was the subject? But I stand by, YOU'RE KILL'N it.

    1. Haha, thanks lady! It's a little bit of all of those things. Such a fun weekend with wonderful folks.

  12. Gorgeous photos! I'm also bookmarking this one because your clinic notes include a lot of things I really need to work on. Thank you :)

  13. Brb crying at this and endlessly staring at the amazing pics you took!! Can’t wait to get together again, hopefully soon!

    1. Absolutely - now that my brain is corrected in its misconception of how CLOSE [not far] you actually are, I hope we can visit more!

  14. What a fun blogger meet up! Also great notes, I think I'll definitely be trying to use some of the advice in my next ride!

  15. Sounds like such a wonderful time!