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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dancing with Debbie

Warning: If you came for stunning professional images like those Wendy takes, move along, folks. Me and my little point-and-shoot digital camera are just providing some "visual interest. :-)

Today I got up at o'dark thirty to audit a day of the Debbie McDonald clinic at nearby DevonWood. They had to start early in order to fit in all nine riders before Debbie had to dash off to make her flight for a clinic in Australia.

It was great to see riders on a range of Training Level through Intermediate II horses (all lovely warmbloods), and I really liked the way Debbie worked with each one (with one exception). And each horse knew, from its session the day before, that that little lady in the middle of the arena had sugar cubes for them!(This was the youngest horse in the clinic, a six-year-old gelding working at Training Level.)

The only horse I felt badly for was this lovely grey mare. She was being stiff and resistant with her rider, so Debbie got on (the first and only time she did so in the two-day clinic) and worked her. There were occasionally nice moments, but no real improvement. I was convinced early on that the mare was not having training issues, but some serious discomfort. I just wanted to stop the ride and plead with the owner to have the horse thoroughly examined by a lameness specialist like my husband (I strongly suspect neck issues).(I love this blurred image of Debbie and the mare in one of those nice moments!)

There weren't any "ah-ha" moments for me; when watching others go I can almost always see what needs improvement and have a pretty good idea of how to go about "fixing" it (not that I can always achieve it all in my own riding!). But it helps to get a firm mental image of the moving work of art I am trying to create with my horse. And while those images were fresh in my mind, I went right home and rode Russell. It was a good ride. :-)

On my way home I called and left my instructor a message. If I can find the time and money, I would love to get back to at least occasional lessons. When one rides alone all the time without so much as a mirror to check one's position, a multitude of evils can result. It's time for a check-up, now that Russell and I are dancing again!

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