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

Monday, August 29, 2016

So much for summer!

My son started high school today – boy, does that sound strange! And with the start of school comes the unofficial stop of summer. Sigh; my summer whizzed by without a beach ride or a Perrydale Trails outing, and only one lesson with Julie. Just getting out on a short trail ride has been hard enough to squeeze in; I managed ONE ride last week. But as always, I'm thankful for each one.

Today's ride was wonderful. We went down through the woods, taking a path down to a little frog pond. It's been quite awhile since we've been there; the last time it was muddy and slick. This time the footing was solid, and a mown trail continued past the pond and connected to a path I haven't ridden in years because it had become overgrown, making a nice, little loop.

Cooler weather has arrived and we even have a decent chance of some rain on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to schooling in the arena along with our wooded excursions. It's not too late for more lessons from Julie, a beach ride, and maybe even a Perrydale Trails outing!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Notes to self, in no particular order

The inside hand is the turn signal; the outside hand is the steering wheel. After the inside hand has done its job, it should be STILL.

The base of the (horse's) neck needs to be stable. The bend should be through the body, not the neck.

The (horse's) nose needs to stay in line with the center of his chest at almost all times; otherwise he's overbent laterally.

Chin back.

Don't cross hands!

Spiraling in effectively requires turning the shoulders, lots of outside rein. Then you get "sit" and "lift."

To school turn on the haunches, leg yield and then straighten briefly first.

Don't accept little shuffle steps in trot-walk transitions; make them clean but forward. Fine line there!

In walk-canter transitions, don't get pulled forward; keep my position. For left lead, ask for slight haunches-in, since that's what he wants to do anyway, but it has to be MY idea and he can't throw his shoulder out. Anticipation is fine, but keep him forward.

Do canter-walk transitions in the same spot, using anticipation to assist with needed collection. Tracking right, a strong inside leg in the half-halt works well. Tracking left, MUST be straight; takes LOTS of outside rein (elbow to hip; use triceps) to keep shoulder from bulging out and tapping whip to keep inside hind under. Trying moving him off the right leg just as when tracking right. Get to walk as quickly as possible so he understands what is expected.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A princely packer and good student

I didn't ride at all last week. My folks were here and I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. But I was back in the saddle the day they flew out (Monday). My friend and her daughter were coming out for one last visit and ride on Tuesday, and I wanted to make sure Lance would mind his Ps and Qs. He had been getting increasingly frisky with us during chores; the big red goober really does need a job.

I needn't have worried; Lance was good for me on Monday and even better for Hannah and me on Tuesday. Not only did Hannah ride him by herself again, this time in full tack, Hannah and I rode double on him for the first time in his life. When it was clear he wasn't going to object, we jogged around the arena for quite awhile.

Today, for the first time in I don't know how long, I got a lesson from Julie. Of course, it ended up being the hottest time of the hottest day of the week, but a breeze made it bearable. I didn't know how much horse I'd have, but Lance surprised me and did very well. Our main task was to get – and keep – Lance straight.

"Straightness" sounds basic, and it is, but as you can see, only collection is above it on the pyramid of training – and collection can only happen if your horse is straight. 

I have not been riding Lance as straight as I thought I was. With Julie's eyes on the ground to guide me, we made great progress in correcting that. And what a difference it made, especially when tracking to the left (his hollow side)!

I can't wait for fall, when rain will water the arena and we can school there. My goal is to show Lance at Second Level at our chapter's ODS League show next February; after today's lesson, that seems perfectly feasible.