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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Maybe my ride did it

Ollie's colic did not resolve as quickly as it has in the past. He got another dose of Banamine yesterday morning and still wasn't quite up to snuff last night. I got home from work yesterday afternoon before my guys, so I fed the fire, let the dogs out, changed my clothes, and headed to the barn for a short ride in the gathering darkness. Ahhh; I needed that!

By this morning Ollie was feeling fine and ready for breakfast; yay! Maybe I'd better squeeze in another short ride this afternoon before our church's New Year's Eve vespers and talent show – you know, to keep Ollie feeling fine.  ;-)

Besides, tonight the temperature is supposed to drop below freezing and stay that way for days. Lance and I can't ride on concrete....

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Same song, second verse

I didn't have time to ride again today, and Ollie was colicky again tonight. I have to work tomorrow and Saturday is full with church stuff; guess I'll hope for better luck on Sunday. Good thing I have cold weather riding gear; we're supposed to start the new year with a week-long arctic blast!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


We are back from Texas to more moderate (for now) weather. Lance and I had a nice ride on Monday; Tuesday I worked all day (perfect; it was rainy); today I planned to ride again. But a friend and her daughter came over to visit and that took precedence. The gallant Sir Lancelot was going to give the little princess a ride, but when we went to the barn, Oliver was colicky. I conferred with Rick by phone; Ollie recovered with walking and Banamine, but by then my friend had left and it was dark.

Even though I hope to ride tomorrow, I decided to lunge Lance tonight just to give him some exercise. He started out his normal playful self; we warmed up at walk and trot before starting canter-trot-canter transitions. Before very long he would no longer pick up the canter for love nor money, and really didn't want to keep trotting. His nostrils were flaring much more than was warranted by the short time he had been moving, and his breathing, when I walked up to remove the side reins, was loud and labored.

I have no idea why he has this problem sometimes; it has happened a time or two in the past. It's foggy out there; does the cold, humid air bother his lungs? Or did not being able to put down his head to cough occasionally (like he does under saddle) once I put the side reins on cause phlegm to accumulate? I will be interested to see how he does tomorrow; I suppose we may end up going for a walk instead of schooling.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dashing through the snow

Lance is going a little stir-crazy because we had to reduce the size of his paddock to protect him from playing with the stock tank de-icer. So this morning I led him out to the arena to run and play a bit.

Neither of us realized at first that Brian had left the gate into the pasture unlatched. Lance saw the opening first, and raced out.
I have too much experience with soft tissue injuries so I held my breath and hoped he didn't hurt himself. Thankfully he has a good recall (it helps that he's very food motivated), so before long he was back in the arena on safer footing.

Later in the day, I decided to get in a ride. We didn't do a lot, just some warm-up in the arena, a walk down to the end of the lane to get our mail, and then back to the arena for a bit of schooling. As always, it was good for my soul. :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I choose to be thankful...

...that I got in one good ride this week!

My Sunday was otherwise occupied, in part making those chocolate-covered cranberries to take to our dressage chapter's Christmas party that afternoon. I have been fighting a cold generously shared by my husband last week, and by the end of the party I had completely lost my voice.

Monday I still had no voice (still don't), but felt pretty good otherwise and took advantage of some time to ride. I got a little start as I approached the barn to find Ollie loose:

Apparently I didn't latch his stall door after refilling his stock tank that morning. This must have been his first look around outside, because INside the barn he had sampled all the hay, left a steaming pile, and found the bucket of apples I picked for Lance's riding rewards:

After Ollie was secured, Lance and I had a lovely schooling session. And that looks like the only one we'll be getting in for awhile. I had to work on Tuesday and take my MIL to Portland today, and came home to snow, slick roads, and frozen arena with no sign of a quick thaw before our Christmas trip. It is what it is; I'm trying not to be jealous of those of you who have access to an indoor arena!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Boot-scootin' boogie

With all that has been going on in my life and trying to post on my farm blog every day of November, posts here have been pretty scarce. But last week included several blog-worthy items so I'm going to do my best to fight through the fuzzy-headedness, sore throat and aches to tell you about them.

First of all, the results of my Cyber Monday shopping and eBay stalking both arrived.

Oy; that mirror needs cleaning!
The tall boots are fantastic! My right calf is bigger than my left so the left boot fits perfectly and the right boot is TIGHT; but thanks to the elastic panel it isn't uncomfortable.

The bitless bridle was . . . interesting. It can be used as a side-pull and with cross-under straps; we tried out both options when we schooled on Sunday.

Yes, we schooled, not just "moseyed," because I wanted to see if we could dance with the same frame and movement that we work on when using our regular bridle without anything in his mouth. I was not impressed with the cross-under option (first one shown), but the side-pull option worked quite well. The problem was, it put a lot of pressure on the bridge of his nose with a relatively narrow, unpadded cavesson, so I've decided to send it back. (It is a demo model.)

The next two rides (with our regular bit and bridle) were excellent. After playing with passage in our lesson with Julie, I had worked once with Lance in hand, tapping the top of his rump with my dressage whip to see if he would sit and offer any passage steps; he did, even though he got a bit frustrated with the whip. I thought about working on that exercise again, but didn't have a lot of extra time so just mounted up. Even though I have trouble executing it, I decided to tap the top of his rump from the saddle to see what he would do. The result was MUCH better engagement of his hindquarters with none of his usual little stumbles. We worked on that again the next day with equally good results. So excited to find something that works for us!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Looking to the future, in spite of the present

As I shared on my farm blog, now more than ever my time is not my own. Add the often wet weather to everything, and there has been little to no riding time. I managed a ride last Monday and a short one yesterday evening, plus a brief turn-out in the arena last Friday to let Lance blow off some steam. Ha; turns out there was no head of steam – all he wanted to do was "join up"! I shooed him around for a little bit to take photos of his cute self, and then lead him back to his stall.

But that hasn't stopped me from dreaming of hitting the ballroom floor. Several weeks ago at a resale clothing shop I stumbled across a pair of Ariat Volant Front-Zip tall boots. The footbed was so comfortable that I almost bought them even though I needed a taller, slimmer shaft. That renewed my interest in replacing my old Cavallos (purchased second-hand at least 20 years ago) with a pair of zippered tall boots, rather pointless unless I'm going to show again sometime. I've been stalking eBay; yesterday I pulled the trigger on a pair of "glass slippers." ;-)

I also did a wee bit of CyberMonday shopping; I ordered a demo model of this to try for trail riding. Lance has periodic bouts of petechiae that make his mouth sore; I figured this would be more comfortable AND eliminate the need to disinfect his bit after every use. Here's hoping it works for us!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

We're still making tracks and out of the arena.

I found out shortly after my last riding post that my DH sprayed the arena with Round-Up after sweeping up the leaves. :-(   I am ANTI-Round-up; plenty of research from around the globe has confirmed that glyphosate is NOT the benign entity Monsanto would have us believe it is. So if I do ride in the arena now, I hose off Lance's legs and hooves afterwards to minimize his exposure to the harmful chemical.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

MAKING time for this post

Things have been busy so the posts that have been percolating haven't been able to bubble onto the blog yet. But this? THIS?!?

(along with a few family members)

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday from dear hubby; happy birthday to me!
(a few happy tears were shed)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dance lessons

Another warm, dry day to ride! Even though I try not to trample the fallen leaves into the sand of our arena, I really wanted to school today, so into the arena we went. (My DH swept up the leaves with the riding lawn mower this evening; yay!) It was one of those days when Lance felt frustratingly sloth-like, with NO available energy. Mind you, I was wearing my blunt ball spurs and carrying a dressage whip, but I didn't want to stab and smack him into moving. So (after warming up, of course) I asked Lance to canter, then got in two-point and urged him to go. We galloped around the arena a few times, then I brought him back and started the rhythm work in trot Julie had us work on at our last lesson. Lance responds very well to that simple exercise; it really does feel like we are practicing ballroom dancing: one-two-three, one-two-three. And I know the muscles and communication we are building will lead, in due time, to both passage and extended trot. But I'm enjoying every baby step along the way. ;-)

Monday, October 31, 2016


I had a chance to slip out for another ride through the woods today.

We rode past the peach orchard, scene of our scary ride in April, too. I am happy to say that no spooks came out to play today – and they haven't for quite some time. My big red goober has become a knight in shining invisible armor!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Seizing the moment

Today I had a short window of time between work and picking up my son from school. The rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through thinning clouds, so I pulled on my breeches and ran to the barn to squeeze in a ride on my mental health mustang man. With no more than 30 minutes of actual saddle time available, we headed for the the neighboring hollow's gravel lane.

It was the best half-hour of my day. :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

House calls and cutie-pies

Lance has been acting like his mouth is bothering him while eating, so after taking Brian to school this morning, Rick came back home to check him out. Lance has "horsey cold sores" (petechiae) again, poor guy. He also had some points, so Rick floated Lance's teeth, then gave both horses their rhino/flu and Potomac Horse Fever vaccinations. Then I led out my ram for Rick to examine; I had noticed during morning chores that Blake was squinting his left eye. No wonder; Rick pulled out a big, nasty grass seed head!

As he was putting his vet equipment back in the truck, Rick asked me if I wanted to ride along on a couple calls. I had things I needed to do, but in appreciation for his help I decided to be a sport. At one of the barns we visited, this flashy Hackney pony caught my eye:
I call him Puzzle, because his wild facial chrome reminded me of a puzzle piece. :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Photos for you, notes for me

Lance and I hauled over for a lesson with Julie today. It was a gray day but I had to try for some photos since Julie wanted to get on Lance to see how he feels; I don't often get the opportunity to watch him get put through his paces! I also took photos of Julie, her beautiful driveway and her talented Totilas filly (yes, her pasture buddy is a miniature horse, who is totally the boss!).
Blurry but I love the color, the motion, Lance's frame....
I'm not sure I've ever seen Lance so quiet after a ride; he was TIRED!


Require a better work ethic; don't let Lance take a break with every canter-walk transition.

Work on simple changes around the whole arena, not on a circle. If Lance gets "stuck," get in two-point, ask him to be a little rounder, lift his belly with spurs, and go forward for a bit.

Hold the counter-canter sometimes, asking Lance to counter-flex. I should be able to feel him flex more in his fetlocks.

Don't grip with my upper thigh; it can block Lance. Must use my correct seat bone while keeping thighs relaxed.

RHYTHM is main goal in trot. Ask for collection by closing hip joint some and moving legs back, then ease out to bigger trot by opening hip joints and using a long, relaxed leg.

Lateral work at the walk is good; save lateral work at the trot for times when Lance has extra energy.