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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

You know what New Year's Day means, right?

Come hell or high water, I'll be on the back of my horse!
In our case the high water is subsiding and hell froze over. ;-)  Our weather has turned clear and cold, which means my arena footing has turned to concrete. Tuesday night's freeze was the first, so my arena was still usable and Lance and I were able to school in it yesterday.

But things don't thaw on the north side of the trees, so last night's freeze was cumulative (as tonight's will be). By today the footing was much too hard to be safe even if I had had time to ride (which I didn't). That means tomorrow's ride will have to be out and about, with my friend Kate if we can manage it, or maybe just my little loop through the woods. Anywhere is good, as long as I have some time on my horse.

By the way, I am really enjoying my Christmas cavaletti – and Rick has #4 almost done! Woot!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Last (but not least) lesson of 2015

Had a great lesson with Julie today, in spite of the rain and "wintery mix" that fell steadily. She would have gone hoarse trying to make herself heard over the din on the metal roof, but her mother's hostess gift at our dressage party was one of those cordless intercom/two-way radio headset thingies. Man, that set-up is slick! It would also work at treat at horse shows.

Anyway, I got all the help I was hoping for without taxing Lance at all. We worked on strengthening his lower back by changing frame rather than loading his hindquarters, making sure to keep him in front of the bit and tracking straight. The struggle to keep him off my right leg disappeared as soon as Julie corrected ME; I just need to keep my right shoulder down and back (tracking right) and my right elbow down by my hip (tracking left).

Julie didn't see any big problems in our partnership; she thinks getting him legged up and ready for a show at the end of February is a reasonable goal. Second Level, here we come! (She says hopefully. ;-)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Christmas surprise

In spite of getting knocked off balance by Tuesday's sad news, we had a lovely, quiet Christmas. My husband acquiesced to my family's European tradition and we opened gifts Christmas Eve. However, one of my gifts was too big to fit under the tree; in fact it still needed a bit of assembly and wasn't even on the property! So on Christmas day he drove to his clinic to pick up the poles and supports of the cavaletti he built for me and we put them together with lag screws. It was dark by the time we got home from a potluck Christmas dinner with church friends, but I just had to try them out by the light of the full Christmas moon.
They are just perfect. Lance is transformed by cavaletti, and seems to like them, too. I've been using some miscellaneous PVC pipe pieces that move too easily; as soon as he checked these out he knew they were the real deal and picked his feet up accordingly. Rick might make me one more; I never would have complained about getting only three, but he did ask if three was the right number.... ;-)

Tomorrow I'm hauling up to Julie's for a lesson; heehaw! Lance is obviously still legging up from his suspensory strain, so we will take it easy. Still excited, though!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sadness and joy

It's been a tough 24 hours or so. When I got home from work yesterday, there was an email waiting in my inbox. One of our dressage chapter members was killed in a head-on crash Monday (news report here), just 10 miles from here. She was to retire this week; her husband had just retired on Saturday, and they were looking forward to retirement together. Eight days earlier we were at a Christmas party together, having a lovely time; now she is gone. It's been weighing heavy on my heart, my head; my coping skills are shot.

Blessed with a dry day, I took Lance out for a Christmas Eve ride. We warmed up in the arena, then went down the gravel lane. I thought about Kristy and her two horses, about how unpredictable life is. I look forward to heaven, but feel the loss here and now nonetheless.

“So you must match time's swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.”
—Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thankful for Friday

I managed to get another ride in then, and I'm so glad I did. We were gone all day Saturday and Sunday, and today the weather is wild. Strong winds and stronger gusts are whipping the big firs around and sometimes shooting raindrops like little darts. Even if I could get away from homeschooling supervision long enough to do something with Lance, riding would be foolhardy and I think even lunging would be asking for too much self-control on his part. Maybe tonight, after this storm blows through....

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sly, dry dog

Last night, after a discouraging morning homeschooling and a looong drive through heavy traffic to take my MIL to the airport, I needed saddle time. It was dark but it wasn't raining (much) and my guys weren't home, so I had a window of opportunity. I put on my breeches and went to the barn.

I had just placed the saddle on Lance's back and was walking around him to check the pad and girth when he slithered out the mostly open stall door – then crashed past the mostly closed barn door, dropping my saddle in the mud and knocking the lightswitch/outlet box loose! Turkey. I thought some choice hay in front of him (I always give him a snack while grooming and tacking up) would be enough to hold his attention; NOT. Once he realized that it was dark and any green grass along the driveway was covered with leaves, he trotted back in the now-open barn door and back into his stall. I tacked him back up and out to the dark arena we went. I have to admit I kept the reins a little shorter and immediately asked for lateral work at the walk to give him plenty to think about, just in case he still had any wild hairs, but he was a gentleman and we had a good ride.

By bedtime last night the rain was pouring down, and is supposed to continue for days. Good thing we got a ride in when we did!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sometimes everything falls into place

This morning I managed to squeeze in a nice schooling ride on Lance after getting Brian started on an overdue school assignment. As soon as we got back in the barn to untack, the sky opened up and filled the hoofprints Lance had just left in the sand. Talk about good timing!
After showering and getting Brian through a make-up violin practice, I prepared the dishes I planned to take to the dressage chapter Christmas party – whole roasted cauliflower and chocolate-dipped fresh cranberries (rave reviews on both). Again, my timing worked out just right; everything was ready to go when my friends arrived to carpool.

The party was great in every way,  and I was home again in time to help my guys with chores.

I'm looking forward to taking a lesson with Julie sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year. Nothing too strenuous yet; I just want to make sure we stay correct and on track as we gradually return to full work and, hopefully, a League show at the end of February!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Thanks to Sylvia's input, I decided to exchange the 84" turnout sheet for an 81". But before I had acted on that decision, SmartPak advertised an even bigger discount on their ultimate turnouts than I had taken advantage of. So I ordered an 81" at the lower price and returned the 84" for a refund – $20 saved is $20 saved!
The 81" arrived today, and I put it on Lance tonight. It is still plenty roomy, so is definitely the better size for him.

Don't know when the weather and my life will cooperate for another ride, but I'm looking forward to our Oregon Dressage Society chapter Christmas party this Sunday. Two good friends are going to carpool with me, so we'll have a great time coming and going, as well as at the party!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Just what the psychiatrist ordered

We've changed from cold and clear to warm and WET. I emptied three inches from our rain gauge on Sunday, and it's collected four more inches since then. The weather and family obligations have kept me from riding for the past week, and my stress levels have been rising. This morning I watched the weather impatiently; the dry spells between showers didn't last long enough to get Lance tacked up, much less ride. But after lunch the clouds parted and the sun smiled weakly, raising my hopes. I left Brian to finish his last subject and headed out.
I put Lance's Renegade boots on the front and stuck to the gravel lane; all the rain we've had makes the arena footing too soupy and any other footing slicker 'n' snot.

 No, this isn't the Olympic rain forest, but does resemble it in places!

Lance got a little squirrelly in one spot when he spotted an ATV parked in the woods, but mostly he just plodded along. Sometimes I wish he was a higher-energy horse, but there's a lot to be said for "solid."

Thankful for a dose of sun, scenic beauty, and my sanity-saving steed!