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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Earning his keep

Lance and I have another student! (I say 'another' because Stella always stands at her paddock railing watching whenever I ride Lance in the arena; I think horses can learn by watching others being worked.) Recently a friend, now in Hawaii, asked if I'd be open to giving lessons to a friend of hers. After talking to this friend-of-a-friend I believed Lance and I could help, so we scheduled her first lesson for yesterday.

Yesterday was a washout, weather-wise. We were planning to proceed with the lesson regardless, in the barn if necessary, but lo and behold, it stopped raining while M was here! Other than Lance being extraordinarily sluggish, the lesson went well, and M is coming again next week.

Meanwhile, I've incorporated something new with Stella, thanks to a different friend's suggestion. She has this book,

and suggested I try the 'body wrap' on Stella, texting me photos of the pertinent pages. Below is a photo of her wearing it for the first tine and walking, looking deceptively calm. Trust me; she was anything BUT! I do think, now that I've worked her in it three times, that it is helping her reactivity, which has only gotten worse during this season of limited turn-out. (After this introduction, she has been wearing it under her tail.)

Decades I learned just a little about Linda Tellington-Jones and TTouch, so I looked into the book and ended up ordering my own copy. Once I did that a Kindle version was made available, which I've been reading on my laptop. So much of what she says resonates; the philosophy is so similar to what I've heard from Anna Blake and the exercises remind me of Jec Ballou's. I look forward to furthering my education and my horses' training!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Starting off right

My only tradition for New Year's Day – really, my only firm holiday tradition, period – is starting the new year on the back of a horse. Preferably not just sitting on a horse but going for a ride on my horse, but there have been years that all I could do was sit on my horse in the barn due to weather, or ride someone else's horse. Still, that's better than those few times in the last 40+ years when circumstances preventing me from being astride at all.

Today's weather forecast indicated a dry window in the morning, followed by a sustained soggy spell – as in days of rain. How fortuitous! I saddled up the reliably rideable one first. While Lance and I warmed up in the arena, I shot a little video to share on Instagram/FB,
then we walked down the lane and back.

Next I turned Stella out to stretch her legs, followed by some in-hand work. Since I am ever working on her reactivity, I did half-circles and circles with her while holding the flag, touching her with the flag, and then adding in a new and alarming piece. slipping the flag up under her tail. Down clamped the tail and forward scooted the mare – at first. But slowly and cautiously she accepted this invasion to the point that she kept walking, for which she was praised and rewarded. Then I climbed the arena fence to do half-circles, pet her, and sit on her. It would have been nice to actually ride her around the arena a bit, but she was quite lively when doing the half-circles so that would have been asking for a confidence-ruining wreck.
 So I had a ride and a sit. Carry on, 2021; I've started you out right!