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

Friday, June 28, 2013

Great first lesson!

Of course, it's always a great lesson when your instructor compliments your horse, right? ;-)  In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that Julie likes ALL horses and compliments nearly every one – unless they do something really horrid. Lance really was a good boy – even though he was working hard in a new place on an oppressively muggy day.

With Julie's eyes on the ground I was able to confirm the frame and tempo to strive for. Lance has a naturally nice frame and a slower cadence than some, which I don't want to ruin with busy hands or by rushing his pace. His lovely walk (with a "Marilyn Monroe swing") was duly noted, his cute face exclaimed over repeatedly, and his calm, honest nature appreciated, by both Julie and her USDF "L" judge mother, who was watching.

Julie deemed the saddle I have on trial an acceptable fit, so I used it for our lesson. It was very comfortable for me and Julie said my position in it was fine; Lance moved well (best right lead canter to date, in fact) and did not have a lump on his spine at the tree's twist afterwards. Last night I had Rick look at the saddle on Lance, and he was even more positive about its fit. I rode in it again this morning, and called the owner to say I'm keeping it. Anyone want to buy my Black Country Eloquence?
Our "new" saddle, and one last look at Lance's long locks

Like my Black Country, this saddle has shoulder gussets,
and wool serge-covered panels, firmly flocked.

I've scheduled another lesson with Julie next Tuesday. Before then I plan to cut Lance's mane to "pulled" length. Yesterday I conferred with Julie, her mom and my friend Debbie on what to do with it in its partially rubbed state. They all thought that shortening it was preferable to leaving it or roaching it. I'll miss Lance's beautiful locks, but hopefully his mane will grow back.* Too bad I don't wear jewelry; there are some beautiful horsehair designs out there that can be made from your horse's mane or tail hair!

*I've ordered some Cheval Itch-B-Gone spray to try; I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Proof of perspiration!

Low-key fellow that he is, Lance doesn't readily sweat. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen him work up a sweat! Granted, I have never worked him very hard, trying as I am to condition him very carefully after his suspensory injury followed by four months of stall rest and hand-walking.

Today, as usual, I didn't work him long or hard. First I rode him to the mailbox and back at a walk. Then I worked him in the arena for awhile. Afterwards, he was actually a little sweaty!

Not a lot, but at least I know now that his cooling system works. ;-)  (The weather wasn't warm, but it was muggy.)

With a show coming up I am more mindful of working Lance intentionally. Another horse blogger is also getting ready for a show, and her recent blog post was a timely reminder of the pitfalls of riding alone. Fortunately, Julie is back in town, and Lance and I will be taking a lesson from her this week – yay! I'm picking up the saddle I'm trying sometime Thursday, and will take it with me to get Julie's input on its fit. All of a sudden it feels like things are gaining momentum; I'm getting excited!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Training Level, here we come!

I sent in our entry today for an ODS League show on July 28. Like the Intro and First Level tests I rode on others' horses last year, the Training Level tests have changed since I last rode them (probably more than 15 years ago). Time to start memorizing! I'm also trying to convince my friend Debbie to enter the same show and haul down with me. She just had carpal tunnel surgery today, but I'm pretty sure Julie (the young lady we've both taken some lessons from) would be willing to show Debbie's mare if Debbie can't.

Speaking of Julie, she'll be here – for the summer at least – on Monday. I'm excited about getting some feedback and instruction on my boy!

I rode Lance up the road this afternoon; he's more forward outside the arena. I won't get to ride again until next Tuesday, because we're headed out of town. (Sure hope the person doing chores makes sure to clip and chain the stall doors!) After riding I turned the horses out into the lower pasture, and then had to admire the mirror-like shine on handsome Sir Lancelot. (If only he didn't have that big chunk of mane missing. Maybe that's supposed to keep me humble. ;-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A saddle in my sights

I have a lead on a used saddle of the make and model I've been looking for, and the price is even comparable to what I should be able to get out of my Black Country! The big question is whether a medium tree (rather than a medium/wide) will fit Lance. I will get a chance to find out weekend after next!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Crashing their party

This evening when we came home from our Father's Day activities, Rick said, "What are the horses doing out?" There were Sam and Lance, grazing the edges of the driveway. That it was those two meant one thing – well, two things: someone forgot to secure their stall latches, and  busy-mouth Lance had been hard at work taking advantage of that fact!

The barn was trashed; busted pallets, scattered hay, and other items kept in the aisleway strewn about. You would have thought they were a couple of teenagers who threw a party when their parents were out of town!

We put all four equines out on pasture and cleaned up the mess. I didn't feel bad at all about pulling Lance out for a ride later while everyone else continued to graze. ;-)

Schooling is going well; I keep our arena sessions short and sweet. I've bookmarked an ODS League show in Eugene on July 28 with the goal of showing competently at Training Level. I would also like to take him to the Mustang Show at the State Fair on August 28, but need to see what classes are offered. If nothing else I could show him in-hand; that would take some work with my busy boy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pony rides

Last week my neighbor called to ask for a favor. Saturday evening they were having company, including two nieces who I had given pony rides to (on Russell) around five years ago. The girls have remembered that visit fondly over the years, and their grandfather recently committed suicide, so my neighbor was hoping I could let them ride again as a pleasant diversion. How could I say no?

Since Russell, my dressage-partner/babysitter-extraordinare, is living a life of retired ease elsewhere, I turned to Breezy, Brian's been-there-done-that pony, and Lance. As green as Lance is I didn't plan on turning anyone loose on him, but figured he's mellow enough to use as a lead-line horse.

The girls are 10 and 13 now with some riding experience from summer camp, and in the end I was able to turn them both loose as I stood to the side. Once again, I was so pleased with my colt!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Riding, not writing

I realize things have been quiet here. I've been riding Lance (still in the old Wintec), working on conditioning, improving balance, and fine-tuning his responses to my aids. He is picking up and maintaining canter better, which tells me we are making progress on all counts. I gave my camera to my son recently to get some video proof, but it didn't turn out.

The beach is still calling to me, as is the desire for some experienced eyes on the ground. The young lady that I took some clinics with on Russell, Larry and Horton is coming back to the area for the summer at the end of this month, so there is help on the horizon. My goal is to have Lance going solidly at Training Level by then so we can move on with Julie's help. Maybe she'll even want to go to the beach for a ride!