To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dapples

Not a great shot, but I just had to try to capture Lance's shiny hide and emerging dapples after bringing the horses in from pasture this evening. No recent brushing, just good horseflesh.  :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The spirit was willing, but the battery was weak

Rick surprised me by going along for our lesson with Julie today. He was going to take his camera, but the battery was dead. Oh well; he gets points for thinking about it. He might have gotten some good shots, too; Lance and I had a great lesson today, along with Kate and Dinah. These combined lessons are perfect for my energy conserver; we work hard, then take a breather while Julie works with the other pair.

Julie gave us a new exercise to improve responsiveness in halt, moving the hindquarters, and forwardness. We trot down the long side of the arena, halt, turn on the forehand (head towards wall), then trot off promptly. Then we worked on trot/canter, canter/trot, walk/canter, and canter/walk transitions, as well as collection/extension in canter. It's key to keep Lance's walk active and straight to get a good canter depart, and work on a smaller circle. To the left, it helped to bring my inside hand open and down; to the right, I often needed to keep his neck straighter and bring my inside hand up, because he tends to curl and drop behind the bit that direction. I tried holding my whip up and swishing it in the air like Julie does; funny how Lance reacts more to that than to being tapped with it!

At the end we worked on collected trot over closely-spaced ground poles; as usual, Lance was a rock star at that as long as I rode him with enough collection.

As it warms back up and the sand in our arena dries out, we will retreat to the gravel roads again for suspensory safety, but I will keep these lessons in mind and implement them as I can.

An aside: This morning when Rick and I turned the horses out on the lush upper pasture for the first time this season, Rick remarked that Lance is fat. He is NOT fat . . . but he did look surprisingly well-fleshed when Julie rode him for a bit today!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Great timing

In addition to needing rain, I've been hoping for a good rain to water our arena – and we finally got it! Then, late today the rain graciously stopped in time for Lance and me to get in our first arena schooling session this month.

The sand should stay firm enough for safe schooling for several days, so we should be good to go for the lesson I've scheduled with Julie this Sunday. Yay!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More solid every ride

I'm still riding out and about until we get enough rain to saturate our arena's sand footing; that could be awhile. The good news is that Lance is once again becoming the solid trail horse he used to be, slaying dragons on every outing.

On an early morning ride last weekend, we encountered new dragons who have moved into the neighborhood since our last ride that way:

Although very nervous, Lance managed to hold himself together as we passed their pasture, but was on his tip-toes to the end of the lane and back. By then the steers had moved closer to the road, so I got off to lead Lance by on our return pass. Good thing, too, as the curious creatures came right up to the fence. Time to desensitize!
(I love cows – their big eyes, moist noses, long tongues, curious natures, big hairy ears.... It makes me sad that people kill and eat them.)

This morning we rode that way again, this time with reinforcements in the form of Brian on his bicycle. Lance was still wary, but not as alarmed. Good boy!

In vet news, yesterday morning Rick started Lance on a short-term regimen of dexamethasone to see if that does better at quieting his symptoms. Breezy is still with us, since she seems content and comfortable. And as predicted, Brian got over his intense interest in riding Ollie....

Thursday, April 30, 2015

These boots are made for walkin'

(Boy, did I just date myself with THAT title!)  ;-)
Still here, still riding, but having to adjust my expectations. Lance is still coughing, and when he needs to cough under saddle, it is a big, physical effort for which he needs to put his head down; whatever we were doing is disrupted.

Working on the assumption that Lance has allergies (which would also fit with the seasonal mane and tail rubbing), Rick had me start him on prednisolone last Sunday. That has had no discernible effect, so we're going to try a regime of dexamethasone (Azium) to see if that quiets his symptoms. If it does, we should be able to go back to the milder prednisolone to maintain him; if not, scoping Lance is probably our next step.

Yesterday evening we went to the arena for a short schooling session, and I noted that the sand is drying out. Avoiding the loose, shifty areas and allowing Lance to cough seriously limited our schooling options; it's time to hit the "trails" (hacking on the roads and fields accessible from home). This morning I had some unexpected free time, so I strapped on his Renegade boots
(still love 'em!) and headed up the lane to put a check in a neighbor's mailbox. Then we walked back down the lane, past our driveway, and through the neighbor's property (with permission) to ride the gravel lane that winds up the wooded hill. We got some good hill work in and Lance was really good, never escalating from occasional tension to bucking or bolting. As if that wasn't enough, I saw one patch of my favorite wildflower (click to biggify)!