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

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How do you solve a problem like Maria Stella?

The last time I posted anything about Stella was in March 2023. I know, I've been a very lax dressage blogger. That's because there hasn't been much to blog about. In short, despite countless hours spent caring for and riding Stella, many lessons with Suzan, and the three shows in which we've competed since my last post, it doesn't feel like we've made any progress. In fact, I think things have gotten worse. Oh, her training is farther along, but her tenseness has only increased, no matter what I've tried. Years ago when my first Morgan was young, a good friend told me that eight was the magic age for mental maturity in Morgans. Stella is now eight, and hotter than she's ever been. (That same friend now thinks I should try endurance riding with her, but that would take more time and hauling than I could fit into my life and I'm not convinced it would change anything.) Relaxation is foundational in dressage but is foreign to Stella, so there is no point in trying to show her anymore, or even take lessons. And while I persevere in working with her, I don't think either of us is having much fun.

Earlier this year I felt so hopeless that I called Suzan to get her advice. I'm not sure what I expected, but she surprised me by saying that Stella is the hottest horse she's ever worked with. She thinks that I'm doing an amazing job with her, and that anyone else would probably totally blow Stella's mind and ruin her. Said that breeding her might settle her mentally, but I don't have any interest in doing that. That suggestion did make me wonder out loud about putting Stella on Regu-Mate, and Suzan thought it was worth a try. Unfortunately, like the two 'calming supplements' I've tried, Regu-Mate didn't affect any change in Stella, so after a couple months I stopped using it.

I don't know how to solve a problem like Stella. Maybe a horse better suited to dressage will fall into my lap someday; maybe a guaranteed breeding-only home will open up for Stella. In the meantime I'll keep riding because that's who I am and it keeps my riding muscles in shape.

Looking through a year's worth of photos, below, gives me pleasure because she's just so beautiful, and makes me want to cry from frustration. Unless and until that changes, there will be no new posts here, because we are not dancing.