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

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Riding notes

10/30: First ride this week because of work, weather, and leaves. Many thanks to my husband for blowing out the arena! I didn't know how Stella would be after such limited turn-out and no riding this week; the girl really needs her exercise. Other than being a little more 'on her toes,' she was good. Wasn't sure I was going to ask her to canter, but when I did, she took the correct lead (right). The canter wasn't nearly as soft and quiet as it had become last week, but that wasn't surprising. Didn't successfully get the left-lead canter for awhile; she took the right lead circling left twice, so we tracked right again so she could take the correct lead on cue. Then we tracked left again and she got the correct lead, so we finished on that positive note and cooled out.

Looks like someone was tightening up an invisible check rein in the above photos!

10/31: A dry Sunday and the arena was still mostly clear of leaves, so two rides in two days; yay! After our warm-up (I always walk her around the arena three times in each direction plus a couple figure-eights on a long rein so both of us warm up our ligaments and joints; I probably need it more than my young mare 😏) I wanted to ride her down through the woods again, but I could hear someone taking advantage of the good weather to grade the gravel road so that was out. We had a good schooling session. When it was time for canter work, I asked for left lead first this time, and she took it beautifully when I moved my right leg back. Same thing circling right; she picked up the correct lead with just a repositioning of my outside leg! I should have quit then, as the rest of the canter work went downhill. She got pretty fussy in the bridle, and didn't get all her leads. She was fussy in the bridle yesterday, too, but I had chalked that up to a week off. Today it was worse, so I checked her wolf teeth after our ride. Their status hasn't changed; one has erupted, two have not, and one is still a no-show/no-feel. She didn't mind me checking,  so that wasn't the cause of the fussiness. I was thinking about scheduling another lesson with Suzan this week, but think I'll wait.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Light on her feet

This morning was relatively dry, so I took time to turn out the horses for a few minutes before reporting to work (I'm covering for my husband's secretary when not at my other part-time office job this week). They could have been out longer if I could go about doing chores, but Stella will actively excavate puddles into big holes if left unsupervised. ANYway, I was able to get videos of what I wanted to capture in yesterday's still photos of their play – Stella's "airs above the ground"!

As you can see, the arena is littered with leaves (with many more to fall), which need to be blown out so as not to get mashed into the sand to ruin drainage and create more dust later. Still, Lance and Stella need a chance to move around, and it's either in the arena or slip-sliding around in a pasture, turning grass into a mucky morass.

When time, weather, and lack of leaves allow us to get back to our regular schooling schedule (usually five days a week), I may start posting short summaries of every ride, or compile daily summaries into once-a-week posts. I often think I should document what went especially 'right' during a ride, or note something I need to address, but those things quickly get lost to the busy-ness of daily life. So fair warning, as such posts might not be of much interest to anyone else. 😉

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Out of the sandbox

I was hoping to get a lesson with Suzan in this month, but between the stress load, the work load, and the weather, that's not going to happen. But regular time in the saddle has been happening, both in the arena and out!

With the start of rainy season, pasture time has ended to preserve what we have and reduce the risk of injury. Instead, I was turning the horses out in the arena to stretch their legs. Lance is always most interested in FOOD; Stella wants to PLAY.

Both of them like to roll.

In addition to working on our basics (the canter work is getting easier and easier for her!), we've added new experiences. One evening I decided to introduce Stella to my quarter sheet. She didn't react to it much at all, which surprised me; she never did completely accept the pink jacket I used during groundwork.

I bought her a hybrid halter, which I really like:

We also started venturing out of the sandbox. Up and down the driveway some more:

Then down the road to the mailbox and back:

Our next-door neighbor was handy and wiling to take our picture. :-D

Then past the mailbox, over the paved crossroad and all the way down to the other end of our gravel road and back, and finally...

...we ventured into the woods!

Once again my mare was awesome in the face of alarming things. Everything was new and scary to her, yet she held herself together and listened to me. It felt so good to ride her where I've ridden countless times on other horses; it's the last place I can get to riding out from home that actually feels like a trail ride. I only got to ride Lance there once this year, looking for wild iris, and couldn't go very far because of all the downed trees and branches from last winter's ice storm. By the time Stella and rode there this month, it was apparent that someone had cut and cleared the old logging road. We could have gone much further than we did, but I wanted to end on a strong, successful note. Stella worked up a sweat as it was!

Unfortunately, the weather turned very wet right after that ride, so our access to the woods through our southern neighbor's property has turned slick and I don't want to tear up his grass. But it's nice to know we can venture there again when the weather allows.

In fact, it has turned SO wet this week that turn-out and riding time in the arena is much curtailed. The water has to have a chance to drain; using it when there is lots of standing water can damage the footing. On top of that I'm working every day this week, so no daylight home-time for me. I'm going to have a very pent-up pony to deal with by the weekend! C'est la vie....