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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Still on track

I was planning on long-lining today (amazing how every Thursday this month has been dry!), but Brian wanted to go on a long bike ride so Russell got another road ride/schooling session instead. We went about three and a half miles, most of it up and down hills. We did lateral work, a wee bit of passage, some trot and canter (got a perfect flying change each way!), and lots of walking. This was the biggest workout Russell has gotten this year - even his "eyes" got sweaty
Now that we've managed two workouts a week for a month, I'm going to shoot for three per week in February. I'm not sure how, but there it is. I'll keep track of how we do here....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays

No, I'm not "down." In spite of today's threatening clouds, Brian and I managed to get in a ride down the road before it started sprinkling. I couldn't get Russell to think "forward" and Breezy was a naughty pony (she crow-hopped a little and Brian came off), but every day can't be a vision of perfect oneness like a championship ballroom dance. I am just thankful for a long-enough break in the weather to continue our slow conditioning process!

Friday, January 22, 2010

So far, so good!

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day, so in spite of a full schedule that included giving my friend her weekly lesson, I squeezed in a long-lining session with Russell. So far this year (I know - it's only JANUARY), I've managed to get in a long-lining session and a ride each week - a modest start to be sure, and a far cry from when I was training and competing TWO horses - one at Third Level and one at Prix St. George! Ah, those were the days I could crack walnuts with my inner thighs....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seizing the day dry

I persevere in reconditioning Russell, even though my always-long to-do list and the weather keep interfering. We had another long-lining session last Thursday that went even better than the one before. Since then it's been pretty wet. We had quite the wind and rain storm last night, as predicted, with another one coming in this afternoon. But this morning was dry and partly sunny, so Brian and I went for a road ride. Usually when I suggest a ride and offer to get his pony ready, he turns me down. This time it wasn't optional. I will get my horse ridden!

Welcome to my world; this is the view from the lane that leads to our house (click to biggify):That's Mt. Hood due east, the clouds streaming from its south side looking almost like an eruption. Between us, the lovely Willamette Valley, the "Eden at the end of the trail" to the weary settlers who came west. On our hill, acres of wine grapes have replaced many other crops like prunes, cherries, hazelnuts and timber.

We had a lovely ride. I worked on suppling Russell, and Brian wanted to know how I got him to move sideways. After a short lesson, he was able to leg-yield Breezy, much to his delight.

Home again, home again, and back inside to finishing homeschooling and violin practice and bread-making and blog-posting....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Breaking in new equipment

I am pleased to announce that the pristine long lines purchased last year are now used and soiled! Yesterday was the one dry day in the forecast - well, other than Sunday, but we will be spending that day hopefully finishing up a building project for the sheep. Anyway. So. I got Russell brushed off and tacked up, free-lunged for a bit to warm him up,and then put him to work. Not for too long, as I want to carefully recondition him, but enough to just break a sweat and get some nice results. Long lines allow you to flex your horse left and right, apply half-halts, encourage stretching - generally just about everything you can do under saddle without adding the burden of the extra weight and balance issues of the rider. I was very pleased with how he went, especially considering we have had a couple less positive experiences with long lines in the past. When Russell is fit enough to handle it, I will schedule a long-lining lesson with Suzan so she can help me be more correct and effective with these wonderful tools.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My New Year's Day tradition

The first morning of the new year, I headed down in the rain to do chores. As I finished up, the sun broke out. I didn't think twice about seizing the moment for the one New Year's tradition I have. Ever since I was a teenager in Texas, I've tried to start each new year on horseback, and I've rarely missed out. I was afraid that this year I'd have to settle for sitting on Russell's back in his stall, because it has been raining a LOT. Instead I was blessed, just long enough for a short ride down our road and back, with this:
As the saying goes, the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a (wo)man. The way a good ride can make your whole day better doesn't make sense, but I'm okay with that. I didn't ask Russell for anything fancy - he's not in shape for that; we mostly walked with just enough trot and canter to say we did it. But it felt good, and gave me hope that Russell and I can spend more time dancing together this year than we did last year, and have a good time doing it.Amen.