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

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lessons 4, 5, and 6 – and PROGRESS!

Time flies when you're having fun – and even when you're not.

Stella and I had our fourth lesson with Lisa (above) the day after my last post, and then took two weeks off because of the horribly smokey air from the wildfires that started on Labor Day and shortly after. I continued to do little bits of homework with Stella, but not a lot; even though she had to be out in it, I did not. But I started to get a little stir crazy so we started working together more and went ahead with a lesson on the 16th; you can see the dingy yellow haze that cast a pall on everything (below). But it sure was fun watching "Lisa the apple dispenser" work with Stella on accepting the tarp! (Walking on it was no big deal; picking it up and putting it against and ON her was something else altogether.) I love the end of that video.

Lisa said at the end of that lesson that she thought Stella was about ready to do circles with me on her, since she is fine with me sitting on her as part of our fence work (my views from her back, below). Given how very quick she is and how reactive she is when things fall off her, I didn't think so! We are talking about hauling Stella somewhere to take a long-lining lesson with Suzan Davis Atkinson, since she really seems happy to be ground-driven and I've seen Suzan do some amazing training that way.

On the night of the 17th we had a glorious hours-long thunderstorm with abundant rain that scrubbed everything clean again and quelled the dust in the arena. Stella and I went back to work in earnest, adding trailer loading practice to our homework. Loading her up to bring her home at the end of December was only her second time in a trailer, and I haven't loaded her since. Taking a cue from Lisa's tarp work, I used apples as a reward, and she's been great.

We also kept working on her reactivity to things on and falling off her. Now if she's standing still, no reaction. If she's moving, she still reacts.

Lisa had asked me if I had a surcingle so I borrowed one and we introduced it in this week's lesson. Putting it on was no big deal since Stella's been saddled a lot; learning to work from a line run through one of its rings took some adjustment. The benefits were quickly apparent, though.

Then Lisa pulled the line out of the ring. Oops; omething else to work on!

After that we moved on to fence work, and Lisa suggested we ask her to move. Lo and behold, I got to RIDE my mare; so exciting!

Lisa explained how I can continue this mounted work at home alone. I didn't have time today to try it because of work and a dog agility class, but hope to tomorrow. The progress we've made in just six lessons plus homework is exciting!

Meanwhile, Lance watches all this from his paddock and makes it clear he's frustrated about being left out. He's had two shockwave treatments (out of three) so far, on 9/2 and 9/21, and is no longer lame. Twice now he's escaped from his stall while Rick cleaned his paddock (Brian knew better than to leave Lance's door ajar – and now Rick does, too). The first time to my alarm he took off bucking but didn't seem worse for his shenanigans; the second time he was much more sedate – I think he had used up all his excess energy. I was amazed and thankful that he didn't seem to suffer during that period of terrible air quality.


marlane said...

Oh well done Michelle you are one gutsy lady !! There will be no looking back now. I looked at Stella more closely. She is a clone of our Dark Knight as you said. The same white coronet and star and body. Amazing. We plan on getting on him soon, he is settling in. He is already trained to ride and drive LOL we will see.

Michelle said...

Aren't their similarities remarkable, Marlane?!? I don't have a way to measure her but I'll bet they are very close to the same height, as well.

marlane said...

They probably are very close in height. Knight is 15.1

A :-) said...

This is so great!!! I'm so happy that you were actually ON Stella :-) And girl, you must have really strong inner thighs. Yay You!

Michelle said...

Marlane, my first Morgan grew until he was six, so I'm hoping Stella gets a little taller since I'm 5'8".

Yes, A, I do have pretty strong inner thighs, but not the quads YOU have! (I should work on those.)

Retired Knitter said...

So great to see the progress she is making. A knowledgable trainer and guide makes all the difference.

A :-) said...

It's just squats and sit-stands until the cows come home. Not fun, but they work and the additional good thing about both is that they also work the core, which we really, really need.

Michelle said...

Yes, it does, Elaine!

A, the type of riding I do relies more on the core than the inner thighs so I'm good there. But my knees are bad and wouldn't handle the squats at all. Is there a way to isolate and work the quads without straining the knees?

A :-) said...

Can you do Sit/Stands where you sit in a chair or on a bench and then simply use your body strength to stand up? 3 sets of 10 (or fewer to start). Here's a link:

They work really well and you're not bending the knees as much as with squats. Sometimes my trainer would have me hold a squat for 30 or more seconds. So, not up and down squatting, just the one and holding it, and you don't have to squat really low.

Tai Chi also helps because you are doing many of the postures with slightly bent knees, which engages your quads and your core like the sit/stands do. Tai Chi is also super great for balance.