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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The spirit was willing, but the battery was weak

Rick surprised me by going along for our lesson with Julie today. He was going to take his camera, but the battery was dead. Oh well; he gets points for thinking about it. He might have gotten some good shots, too; Lance and I had a great lesson today, along with Kate and Dinah. These combined lessons are perfect for my energy conserver; we work hard, then take a breather while Julie works with the other pair.

Julie gave us a new exercise to improve responsiveness in halt, moving the hindquarters, and forwardness. We trot down the long side of the arena, halt, turn on the forehand (head towards wall), then trot off promptly. Then we worked on trot/canter, canter/trot, walk/canter, and canter/walk transitions, as well as collection/extension in canter. It's key to keep Lance's walk active and straight to get a good canter depart, and work on a smaller circle. To the left, it helped to bring my inside hand open and down; to the right, I often needed to keep his neck straighter and bring my inside hand up, because he tends to curl and drop behind the bit that direction. I tried holding my whip up and swishing it in the air like Julie does; funny how Lance reacts more to that than to being tapped with it!

At the end we worked on collected trot over closely-spaced ground poles; as usual, Lance was a rock star at that as long as I rode him with enough collection.

As it warms back up and the sand in our arena dries out, we will retreat to the gravel roads again for suspensory safety, but I will keep these lessons in mind and implement them as I can.

An aside: This morning when Rick and I turned the horses out on the lush upper pasture for the first time this season, Rick remarked that Lance is fat. He is NOT fat . . . but he did look surprisingly well-fleshed when Julie rode him for a bit today!

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