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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Special treatment

Friday afternoon after getting home from work I headed down to the barn for my jealously guarded riding time. Lance hadn't finished his hay, which is unusual. As I started groomed him he began coughing – and kept coughing. Sounded like he was trying to clear an obstruction; I wondered if he had some of those nasty grass seeds caught in his throat. He has coughed occasionally for awhile now, usually while we're warming up, but then it stops. Friday he coughed a LOT, and it left him breathing hard – or at least I thought the heavy breathing was caused by the coughing. I led him out to the arena and got on, but when his sides continued to heave I threw in the towel. Between the unfinished hay and the coughing, I decided some tender spring grass would be more welcome than a ride.
Lance got a half-hour to eat, and probably didn't move 20 feet – not because he was so eager to graze, but more like he didn't have a lot of energy.

That evening I had Rick look at Lance, who was still breathing heavily. Listening to his lungs was inconclusive and he didn't have a fever, but Lance did have the little viral ulcers in his mouth again. Rick couldn't say the little ulcers had anything to do with the heavy breathing, but advised against much if any riding. Lance got a dose of Banamine to help him feel better.

On Saturday afternoon, I turned him out again while I spent some time with Brian at his "campsite." Again, no bucking or playing, just eating in one area.
I guess it's a good thing I was too broke to enter our chapter's League show today, or I would have had to scratch again. No thank-you; I had to do enough of that last year! I just want my big red goober to get better. He looks and acts perky (except that he isn't interested in running and playing), but is still breathing hard for just standing around. I'm going to go turn him out for another 30 minutes of grass this afternoon. Our March has definitely come in like a lamb!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Venturing out

Lance and I have gotten in some good work since our lesson with Julie, in spite of a crazy schedule on my part. I jealously guarded a small window of time for riding this evening in between homeschool co-op in one town and Brian's fencing lesson in another.

An aside. Brian was a little snotty about my wanting time to ride, saying "I didn't know your horse was so important to our family." I told him that I get up before he and his dad do, stay up later than he and his dad do, work three part-time jobs, cook, clean, shop, and provide Mom's Taxi Service. My horse time is necessary for me and my mental health. So YES, time on my horse IS IMPORTANT TO THIS FAMILY BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME!

Brian asked if I wanted to ride down the road with him. He finally saved up enough money to buy a nice bicycle, so he wanted to ride it while I rode Lance. Given the unpredictability Lance has developed when being ridden off property since all the neighborhood construction projects started, I had some questions about the wisdom of this idea, but getting out of the arena with its rapidly drying sand footing sounded like a good idea. So down the road we went.

We did a combination of riding and leading. When Lance got tense, I got off and we kept going. When he settled down, I got back on. Overall I think it was a successful outing, with a few small dragons slain, a change of scenery, quality time with my son, and exercise for all. Lance and I finished up with some trot/canter work in the arena (we just walked on our road ride), and called it good.

We're supposed to get a little rain over the next day or so, which should improve the footing in the arena.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our right shoulders

Lance and I had an early-morning lesson with Julie today. She is leaving this week for another stint as a groom and trainer's assistant in Florida, so I wanted good dose of critique and instruction before she left. I also needed some video footage to go with my application to be a demo rider at the NW Horse Fair & Expo on March 22. I don't really expect to be selected, but you never know until you try. It would be a free opportunity for feedback, and a good excuse to "clean up and go to town."

Anyway, back to our lesson. Julie had lots of good things to say about Lance's gaits, frame, and execution of various exercises; we've done our homework! But there is always room for improvement, and today what needed improvement were both Lance's and my right shoulder.

When tracking right, I need to keep my right shoulder back. It wants to stay forward, which handicaps my horse; when I DO put it back, my outside leg comes forward! I couldn't help but laugh at how difficult it was for me; I really have to practice The Twist or rather, keeping all my body parts independent. When I get it, Lance is free to move ever so much better.

As for Lance's right shoulder, he has always had a tendency to pop it out when tracking to the left. I need to use my outside aids and "ride his shoulders;" in other words, keep him properly aligned with shoulders in front of haunches. Again, when I do, his gaits and movements improve dramatically.

Here are some snippets of works in progress, and then a run through First Level Test 3 which went okay.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rain dance

Today both the weather and my health were better, so I got to play with my pony. It was dry all day – until I went down to saddle up. Oh well, it wasn't supposed to rain hard or last long, so I persisted, and we had a good dance in the drizzle. I didn't bother to set up our trot poles since Lance didn't work much last week; we just schooled gaits and transitions, which were very good. I've been trying to keep my inside leg at the girth and my outside leg well back to contain Lance's haunches as Julie had me do in our last lesson; what a difference that has made! (Don't ask me what I've been doing all these years when I thought I was riding correctly....) Oh, and for the first time Lance rocked the difficult exercise of leg yield down the wall in trot. Woot!

Friday, February 6, 2015


It's been a wet week. I managed to get a ride in Tuesday after work during a lull in the rain, although the arena was pretty wet. While riding I started coughing, and realized that after working with sick people for weeks, I was finally succumbing. Drats.

This morning looked like this:

I didn't have the energy to ride when the faucet turned off for awhile this afternoon, but I did turn the Big Red Goober out for a bit to stretch his legs. He ran off to take a bath in the wet sand, and then spent most of his time being goobery.  ;-)

When I put him back in his stall with a treat ball full of hay cubes to play with, he was creating puddles. Someone is going to need a good grooming to fluff up that insulting hair once he's dry!