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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Walking my mule

Lance is looking rather mulish these days. In addition to his annually itchy mane,
this summer he's been scratching his dock nearly naked, too.
I've prayed it with Itch-B-Gone, fly spray, and even took a fecal sample to the clinic in case some parasite has developed resistance to his daily dewormer. No worms, but no relief. It's not raw, just ugly; good thing we aren't showing this year!

I continue trying to get Lance out for his daily constitutional. My friend Laura offered some suggestions for dealing with his naughtiness that I've put into practice, and I do believe they're helping. On Sunday we started in the arena, then headed down the lane. I dismounted while Lance was still being good and led him farther down the lane. On the other side of the paved road, he started getting squirrelly. A motorcycle cruised by; he launched into airs above the ground. Every time he acted up, I got after him, and led him farther away from home. We ended up walking a lot longer than our prescribed 30 minutes – and my shoulders reminded me just what had brought on my tendonitis. I gave my ouchy shoulders a day off, then rode again today the same way. I rode him a bit farther before dismounting; when he got naughty it wasn't as energetic; and he seemed to figure out that acting up delayed his return to barn and buddies.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What if life gives you lemonade?

I feel like I've been handed a giant pitcher of the stuff and I want to drink it all, but can only have one small glass – maybe.

What am I talking about? I'm being asked to lease/train/sell THREE outside horses right now. (Bangs head against a wall.) Why am I being offered something I'd love to do but that isn't possible?

My mom used to tell me about work opportunities, "If someone asks if you can do something, say 'yes' and then figure out how to do it." I want to figure out how to do this; I can't think of a job I'd rather do than to train horses for people. But right now my three-stall barn is full and the majority of my time and energy are consumed with homeschooling my son. I've been trying to figure out how to shoehorn in one outside training project, since I don't know yet if Lance is going to be able to return to dressage training. Three outside training projects? Impossible, it seems to me.

But it is not all up to me. My husband has to be on board with whatever I do, of course. But even more importantly, I need God's direction. If these opportunities are heaven-sent, then God will have to work out the details for me to bring in one or more horses. I'm listening!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back on track

As of this morning, I've ridden Lance three times in the arena. We review proper Mr. Manners behavior before starting, then we walk for up to 30 minutes. I let Lanc stretch in between making him march, accept contact, leg-yield, halt, rein back, and pivot on his front and hindquarters. He has been very good, and has a nice, foamy mouth during each ride – something he didn't get on our road/field rides.

We will ride out and about again soon. I am confident last week's bad behavior was a temporary lapse in Lance's "new world order." He didn't not learn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. from his breeder; when he doesn't get regular reminders it is easy for him to revert.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Third time wasn't charmed

Friday I took Lance out for our third ride, and he was even naughtier than before! Since I had ridden him down our lane and across the paved road, we were not in as safe a place for him to carry on with his bucking and bull-headedness, so I ended up dismounting (very quickly, when I saw a motorcycle approaching that I was certain would provoke more reaction) and leading him home. He got plenty of schooling nonetheless; every time he jigged, I stopped and backed him up briskly; he could only proceed at a polite, flat-footed walk. If he didn't back up promptly or straight, I got after him sternly. Once back in his stall I armed myself with a pocketful of treats and a bat (sticks and carrots) and continued to school him in respect and manners until he moved over or picked up his feet at a word.

With the escalation in naughtiness, riding in our arena seems the only sensible option at this point, even if I have to water it to make the footing more stable for Lance's ligaments. But I don't have to do that for today's ride, at least; hallelujah, we got some rain yesterday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Take two

I didn't have a chance to get Lance out yesterday, so this morning I headed out bright and early to do chores and then ride before starting our homeschooling day. I hadn't made it 50 feet from the house when a searing pain hit the front of my right ankle. I never saw or heard anything but it was unmistakably a yellow jacket sting – right through my sock in the cool of the morning, the insolent thing! (I was wearing my chore shoes and carrying my jod boots.) That postponed my plan a bit, but after the extreme discomfort subsided I headed back towards the barn a second time. Sure was jumpy at the sight of every wasp, though, because the breeches I was wearing were thinner than my socks!

Lance ate while I fed and watered everyone, then I tacked him up and rode out to the stubble field again. We moved on into the adjoining field and were zig-zagging down the hillside when a distant horse whinnied. That put Lance on the muscle, which progressed to head-shaking followed by bucking. I turned him toward home, resigned to walking around the arena if that was the only way I could safely walk him for 30 minutes. When he quickly mellowed out, it occurred to me that Lance's naughty behavior was less about pent-up energy and more about expressing his unwillingness to be away from his buddies at home. I tested and confirmed my theory by riding him in medium circles towards and away from home. Bingo!
Our "one big thing" today was NOT this straw monolith