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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Woot; I can RIDE!

In spite of Dozer's “help,” Rick ultrasounded Lance's injured rear suspensory again today, and gave us the green light to go back to regular riding and schooling.

We'll start preparing c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y for the Heart of the Valley show on Mother's Day.

Don't tell anyone that I asked for just a wee bit of trot and a canter depart in each direction yesterday just to see if the "buttons" still worked. They do. ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Steady Eddy becomes Freaky Freddy!

It was a busy day about the place yesterday, and I didn't have a chance to ride Lance until the last hour of daylight. We had just started walking in the arena when Rick came in with a backpack sprayer. He had been threatening to spray the whole thing with RoundUp, and was there to act on it. Boo, hiss; Monsanto has lied to everyone about the safety of this herbicide and I've read enough of the independent research to be very uncomfortable with its widespread use. Lance and I exited, stage right.

We headed up the driveway and down the lane, taking a detour into the lot for sale beside us. As we were leaving the lot, two vehicles pulled into the next lot, where a 12,000 sq.ft. winery is being built. The vehicles' headlights startled Lance, but he recovered quickly. Then, as we proceeded down the lane and he saw for the first time all the big equipment and changes to the terrain, he grew nervous. All of a sudden he bolted. A one-rein stop put an end to that, thankfully, and Lance seemed to settle down as we continued down the lane and the rest of the world was as he remembered it.

We crossed the paved road and continued north along our gravel road. It was a beautiful evening and I was enjoying the scenery. All of a sudden, Lance's back bowed up under me and he launched into the air! As my helmet sloshed around on my head I thought, "This is NOT adjusted tightly enough." There was a pause in the action and in a nanosecond my options and their consequences flashed through my mind. If we continued our route would immediately take us down a fairly steep, short hill; I didn't like the prospects of riding a bucking horse down hill. But I didn't want to turn around and head home, lest Lance connect the dots and think, "Hey, I acted up and I got to go home!" For the same reason I didn't want to get off and lead him, although I was sorely tempted for safety's sake – both of ours. (Lance hasn't received clearance from his vet to do more than walk; I'm pretty sure bucking and bolting aren't approved activities!)

I made him move his feet where we were at, rated his tension too high to proceed, and headed home with my rear planted firmly in the saddle, determined to give him plenty to think about. There were occasional eruptions, sometimes upward and sometimes forward, but I kept Lance between me and the ground and we got home safely. Actually, thanks to the fancy F.I.T.S. breeches that Rick got me for Christmas, I never felt in any real danger of parting company with my mount – but partly because Lance never committed himself to unloading me.

It was like riding a totally different horse, though; Lance is sooo quiet and steady in the arena, and has been a rock on the trails and at the beach, too. At our last local dressage meeting, our guest speakers were the trainers (husband and wife) for the Portland Mounted Patrol. As they described the type of horse they have learned works best for the job (the Patrol is now mounted exclusively on drafts and draft crosses), I told my friend Sylvia (Cohort's owner) that Lance fit the bill exactly. Now I'm not so sure (NOT that I was looking for a new home for him!).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We're still truckin'

What a week we're having, with the warmest days since last September!

I didn't have a chance to ride my boy on Monday, but I did drop off his broken bridle to see if it can be repaired well enough to use for trail-riding. His sheet, which had slipped off Lance's hindquarters and gotten stepped on, was deemed beyond repair. Fortunately Robin had some nice used sheets available and I picked up a replacement for $30. I like to keep a sheet on my horse because it reduces grooming time. Less grooming time = more riding time!

In order to ride yesterday I did it first thing in the morning. My husband and son are not up-and-at-'em types, and I waste a lot of time and energy nearly every morning trying to get a reluctant son going on his chores and school (I've come to accept that motivating my husband is not my job). So yesterday after feeding and watering all the animals, I rode. It worked out great; I may do that again this morning as soon as I post this. Lance clearly enjoys the chance to get out and walk; he nickers and bangs on his stall door on the days he hasn't gotten out.

Rick's still not sure if Lance will be up to showing in May, but I'm holding out hope. Yesterday I emailed the secretary of the Mother's Day show to see if it's filled yet, and told her I was waiting to see if my horse is pronounced sound enough to show. She told me to attach a note and send in my entry; she won't charge me a cancellation fee if I let her know by the closing date. Yay for possibilities and considerate show secretaries!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Breezy benefits from Lance's lips

This morning I noticed that Lance had broken the "tongue" off one of the clips, but since it was on his neighbor's door latch, I wasn't too worried.
That was a mistake. This is what greeted me when I got home this afternoon:
And yes, Lance and I got to go for our walk in that beautiful sunshine. Rick said we could increase our time a bit, and I've been throwing in some leg yield and turns on the forehand and haunches. It's good to be in the saddle, even at just a walk!

Monday, March 31, 2014

What do you with a problem like my mustang?

Yesterday I took advantage of a break in the showers (I thought) to ride Lance. But by the time I had him groomed and saddled, it was raining again. So I left him tied (with halter and lead rope!) in his paddock and watched sheep for awhile (I had two pregnant ewes who are toying with me). When the shower stopped and I returned to Lance, I found this:
He had just enough leeway in his lead to reach around and unbuckle half his girth!

At 7:00 p.m. I took a bottle down for my bottle lamb, along with some towels in case one of the ewes had given birth. Since there were no new lambs, I decided to leave the towels in the tack room. I walked into the barn, and Lance's stall door was ajar! I found him in the upper pasture calmly grazing, the turkey. Fortunately he didn't play any catch-me-if-you-can games, and I led him back to his stall.

Obviously, bolt snaps (above) are no longer a challenge for my nimble-lipped Lance, so I switched things around and put a threaded quick link through his stall latch. If that doesn't work, I think a combination lock will be our next step….