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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Enjoying the NOW

I had a great lesson with Julie tonight. When she wasn't available the last two Sundays, we aimed for a rare weeknight lesson, and I got everything juggled and arranged to git 'er done.

I shared with Julie that Lance is struggling with his right lead canter. After I warmed him up and worked him a bit, she suggested she get on. I always enjoy watching a professional I admire show me just how beautifully my partner can dance, so yay! It took some time to figure out, but she eventually got some excellent work from him and was able to explain to me what she was felt and what she did to fix the issues. I was then able to get on, follow her instructions, and get more of the same high quality work from my handsome horse.

We discussed the upcoming League show I plan to enter and what classes seemed best. I also shared an unpleasant revelation I had today. One of my graphics clients, my biggest one by far, will be doing their own work in-house starting in March. My very part-time graphics business is the source of my discretionary income, allowing me to get things that don't fit into our lean budget . . . things like lessons and show fees. So the upcoming show, and hopefully one more lesson from Julie leading up to it, will probably be the last in the foreseeable future. That makes me a little sad, but it's definitely a First World problem – and who really knows what the future holds?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Trying out the new lens

Here, from walk to canter, are my favorite shots of Lance (not necessarily of me!) that Rick took on Sunday. It was mid-afternoon on a cloudy winter's day, proving that the new lens can deliver on its promise of detailed low-light action shots.

Free to play

Saturday afternoon late I decided to give Lance some time to exercise himself. I haven't turned him loose to romp since his latest suspensory injury, but figured he's healed and fit enough once again to handle it.

I took a snapshot of the new view from the arena with all the neighboring trees cut. (The remaining firs on in our lower pasture.) There wasn't enough light left for action shots, but there was plenty of action! Lance ran and bucked a lot, proving that his sluggishness under saddle is situational, not systemic. ;-)  Brian was playing with some friends up by the house, which gave me a chance to get some stills, though.

I had left Lance's turnout on to keep the sand off; brushing only gets so much out and it can't feel good between the saddle and his skin. By the time he was done playing he was hot and sweaty, so I uncovered him and we walked to the mailbox to pick up the day's mail and back home to cool out.

Rick got a new camera lens that is supposed to be good for low-light action shots. He tried it out when I rode Lance Sunday afternoon, and it really does work well! I've only begun editing the photos; I'll share some once I'm done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Silly us

I had too much fun with my iPhone and Lance yesterday. You can check out the silly pictures on Instagram (click on the blue logo bar at right).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Not quite a knight in shining armor

Lancelot was more than a dressage horse on Friday; he was a little princess' steed. The neighbors finally brought their granddaughter up for that "pony ride" they asked about in November; it was the first day the weather and our schedules cooperated. Just in time, too; as the girl and her mother are flying home to France this weekend.

Before the visitors arrived, I schooled Lance. Even though he is an energy-conservor, I figured it was still good risk management. When I changed saddles to give the girl a more secure seat, Lance thought he should be DONE. I practically had to drag him back to the arena and around at a slow walk. But his motor-mouth made up for his reluctant legs; he was busy-busy-busy trying to grab the reins, grab my gloves, grab my jacket. (Suggestions for quieting his busy-lips tendencies welcomed!) Still, the visitors all seemed thrilled with the ride, as you can see from their smiling faces. (You can also see Lance nibbling on Grandma's fingers in the first photo, and reaching for the mother's pocket flap in the third photo; ha!)
I love the little girl's hand progressively reaching forward to touch his neck. ;-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A short experiment

Sunday was a shiny jewel of a day, and I took advantage of it on the back of my horse. We went down the lane in the woods, staying on gravel and slag and off the slick mud. Lance, who has never liked going up and down hills, was more reluctant than usual.

Sunday evening I read a short article by Jochen Schleese in our regional sport horse magazine on saddle shift and lameness which got me thinking. When a short window of relative dryness opened up yesterday I tacked Lance up with the Cashel bareback pad Theresa gave me, Breezy's old breast collar, and a cinch from one of Rick's western saddles. I wanted to see if the absence of a saddle tree made any difference in Lance's freedom of movement, but didn't notice any difference during our short ride in the arena. Whether it makes a difference on hills remains to be seen. It's going to have to stop raining before we can try it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

As the needle to the pole(s)

Lance likes ground poles. If we are walking around on a loose rein warming up, taking a breather, or cooling out, he will turn and walk over them on his own volition – like today.

His breeder told me that as a youngster he would free-jump obstacles in his paddock just for fun. I haven't found him that eager to jump; when faced with something like a log, he almost always chooses to step over. That's okay; jumping is not the kind of "air" this dressage rider aspires to. ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Over the river and through the woods

Kate and I got our New Year's Day ride in, in spite of being foiled in our plan to ride at Willamette Mission State Park. Before leaving her house Kate made sure the Wheatland ferry was running, but didn't realize that the horse parking area and horse trails were still inaccessible because of high water. So after a trip over the river to the park entrance, then back over the river to my house, we saddled up and rode through "my" little stretch of woods. With the ground mostly frozen, we were able to go beyond the gravel, farther than I have been able to ride since November. It was a relatively short ride, but sweet.
Today we awoke to snow! I didn't think seriously about saddling up until this afternoon, when I got a sobering Facebook update about someone I knew through our first eight years of homeschool co-op, then for the last year as a co-worker. Kelley has been battling cancer, not with any hope of beating it, just to gain more time with her family. They had a family trip to Disneyland scheduled the week of January 10; it's not going to happen.

We are home, home sweet home. This is our 2nd day here, and it is great to be here. Kelley made the trip from OHSU to our living room, and at this point there is only one more trip that she'll have to make, and that will be on the Glory Train. We are home with hospice, and she has her mind on heaven. Kelley will bypass the happiest place on earth and head to the happiest place anywhere.

We are all sleeping in the living room, with Kelley in the middle of it, waiting for her to board the train. I'm so blessed to watch my three kids take care of their momma in these last few hours, they haven't left her side. Of course not, she never left theirs when they needed her. She trained them well. So the next time you'll hear from me is when Kelley has entered the presence of her King.

This will be the fifth death in our small homeschool co-op "family" in less than five years, people my age or younger, people with children still living at home. Overwhelmed by more sorrow, I bundled up and headed down to see my therapist.
Watching Brian and a neighbor boy slide down the hill.
My Christmas cavaletti now number four

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way; when sorrow like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul.'"