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

Friday, August 6, 2021

On the verge and on the merge(r)

Last week I dragged the other three cavalletti to join the one in the arena in order to give Stella more to think about. I spaced them so she could take them with two shortened walk steps between, or one BIG trot stride between. But the concept of that big of a trot (under saddle) was hard for her at first, so we worked at achieving a bigger trot on the circle. I felt a little hop across the middle a couple times; I could tell she was thinking about cantering. And then she did it! But after a stride she stumbled in the back end and immediately throttled down to the walk, seeming a bit worried about what had just happened. Me? I was pleased as punch that she offered it!

I was also pleased that the "big trot" work on the circle helped her successfully navigate the cavalletti, and she seemed pleased with herself for figuring it out. But I hoped unsuccessfully that she would offer the canter again. I even encouraged her verbally, since she is familiar with the word from lunging, but she definitely wasn't interested. Oh well; we'll eventually get to a round pen to work on it.

This week we schooled more of the same. Then I decided to try the poles from the south end (the far end in the photo). As you can see, the cavalletti are positioned in one quarter of the arena. We've been approaching it from the north end so we have plenty of room to confirm a big trot; circling to the right and entering them from the south side seemed a bit more challenging. But she did it – and broke to the canter before the end! Again she throttled back very quickly, but I assured her she had done well.

Thinking about it today when I rode, I realized that Stella has an "open door" on the north end which probably encourages forward, whereas the arena fence acts as a half-halt when we trot from north to south. With that in mind, we approached the poles from the south. She powered through with no problem, but no canter – I thought. Then after leaving the poles she transitioned smoothly, and cantered six strides!

It was hard not to get greedy and try it again, but I resisted the temptation. I don't think we'll have to haul to a round pen after all; Stella appears to be on the verge of figuring out that she can canter under saddle!

As for the merger, we were finally able to go from this:
to this!

Last Sunday Rick helped me get the fence squared away on the upper pasture so we can turn Lance and Stella out up there together. They no longer have to reciprocal-groom across a fence, and they are getting along great. In fact, Lance might be getting just a bit herd-bound!

Finally, just for fun. Rick and I were watching the Olympic dressage rides the other night and they caught Poppy's eye, too. With no encouragement from us, she jumped up in the chair and watched intently two different times. My dog has such good taste!

And here is curious, gentle Lance greeting my Shetland lamb in the barn aisle. So sweet!


Retired Knitter said...

Loved the pictures of Lance and Stella together. How wonderful they are friends now. And that Poppy! She is always such a character. Maybe you should have shared that TV with Stella. :-) :-)

marlane said...

Well done again with Stella !!

Michelle said...

Elaine, I haven't seen a cross word between Lance and Stella; it truly is wonderful. Hmm; I wonder if she could learn high-level dressage by observation! ;-) :-D

Thanks so much, Marlane!

A :-) said...

I know I said this already, but these two photos are so, so beautiful in so many ways :-)

Michelle said...

Glad to add some beauty to your world, A! 😊