Riding 29 year old Sandy in 1997

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Learning something new

Had my first dressage lesson today on a really big (about 16.2) horse named Paul. At the moment we're just getting familiar with each other -- me with the horse, the horse with me, the trainer with my level of competence, me with her teaching style -- but I think I actually did pretty well. I've had lessons a couple times in the past and I was able to self-correct some of what were weaknesses in my past, and some of my old issues seem to no longer be part of my repertoire.

My hands remembered how to hold the reins correctly, I remembered to keep my head up and look through turns, which has become my habit with my own horses. I did a fairly creditable posting trot and only had to ask once which shoulder I was supposed to post to because I can never remember (it's the outside shoulder, I rise when it moves forward). I corrected quickly the couple times when the horse broke gait (came down to a walk) for a stride, throwing off my rhythm.

The horse is nice and responsive and well-trained, a little on the lazy side at the walk but trotted out without my having to ask repeatedly. He's 22 and an appendix quarter horse who clearly has a lot more thoroughbred blood in him than my 23 year old appendix quarter horse mare (Dottie).

So in between lessons I need to work on posting trot to build strength in my thigh muscles, and doing a lot of big circles, striving for smooth arcs.

It was very cold today and threatening rain and the trainer called me at 11:30 to see if I planned to cancel and I told her I was about to call her to see if the arena condition was such that we would have to cancel, but I had otherwise planned to bundle up and not let cold keep me from the lesson. I told her later I was a mounted posse member who needed to be able to ride in any weather so was not about to cancel unless there was a compelling reason to cancel, such as a muddy arena or pouring rain.

I'm just not going to be a wuss about it.

But as it turned out, I removed my vest and my glove liners and left off the winter helmet cover (that has a wraparound to cover the ears) because the sun came out through the clouds just at the time of my lesson and it was actually very pleasant! It felt good to be in the sun after two days of gloom, rain, and even some snow.

I used my own saddle on Paul but due to his size I had to use their girth -- mine was WAY too short!

So I have embarked on my new "career" as a dressage rider and am looking forward to getting in shape, getting to where I can move all of my body parts independently, and work more as a team with my horse, which really is what the art of dressage is about -- the partnership between rider and horse. The dancing moves come as a result of that, but the partnership has to be there first.

But I really am looking forward to riding the passage that I saw Dottie do last week. It may take years of training -- or maybe only months -- I have no idea. It will depend on how much effort I put into it and how my body holds up. Tonight my back is out a little bit. I'm being reminded that I should have done this thirty years ago. But I'm doing it now, and I hope I can stay with it long enough to achieve that unity with the horse that I hope to achieve.

And that's the latest from the Ranch.

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