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 8, 2009

The call of the show ring

I recently got an email about some changes to an upcoming League show (less expensive than USEF/USDF approved). The date has been changed to October 11 from the following Saturday, and the location has been moved to the Oregon State Fairgrounds from farther away. Furthermore, unlike a lot of League shows that only go to First or Second Level, this one has a class for Second Level and above. All of this adds up to a tempting outing to shoot for!

I don't know that I need to enter as a schooling motivation since I've been doing pretty well since starting this blog, but it would get Russell out where he can be seen by prospective buyers. I don't know that I've mentioned it here yet, but I do have Russell for sale.

Russell is not built ideally for dressage, having a long back and a rump that is higher than his withers. One of the goals of dressage is to develop a horse's "carrying power," gradually getting them to shift their natural forehand-heavy balance backwards and learn to carry more of their weight on their hindquarters, which frees up their shoulders and allows them to move more expressively. With his long back and "downhill" balance, Russell has to work much harder than some to cantilever his front end up. We have worked our way up to Third Level and keep stalling out there, when Russell shows signs of being less than comfortable in his work. He does have some arthritis in his neck (confirmed by x-rays and ultrasound-guided steriod injections), so it's not like he doesn't have reasons. After a successful outing at Third Level this spring, his neck started bothering him again. Since I love the training process and taking a young horse from knowing nothing all the way up the levels, dropping back to Second Level and coasting along indefinitely was not an option for me. I decided to try and find my dance partner a new home where he could be a low-level, level-headed schoolmaster for someone who would appreciate him, and then get a new prospect. That hasn't happened yet, obviously, and I couldn't just let him morph into an out-of-shape marshmellow. So I spurred myself to get back in the saddle for both our sakes. Of course, now that we're going out dancing regularly again I am enjoying our rides immensely, and it would be very hard to let him go. Plus, I'm not sure I have the time it takes to start a young horse right. I guess I'll keep riding, pray about it and leave it in the Lord's hands!


Shula said...

Starting a young horse can be extremely rewarding, and if you have time, and patience it can be done. It also really helps to know that you don't know everything and to ask for help when you need it. I'm sorry to hear about Russell, and didn't know. But it is lovely to hear that you are having a great time together. The show does sound like a great opportunity.

Michelle said...

Russell is the first horse I've owned that I bought "broke;" all my others were bought as youngsters and I trained them myself. I should do a post on "past partners" someday....