Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I think the reason that I love dressage (besides a possible tendency towards masochism and a perfect outlet for my type-A tendencies) is the fact that, really, if you're not learning something new all of the time, you're failing. I feel like if your job was to put 60 days on a colt, and you had horses coming and going constantly in that, yeah, you'd have the odd memorable one. But mostly, they'd blurr together. You'd have your system that you follow and you'd put the horses through it. But that so doesn't work for dressage. I mean, it kind of does, there's the training pyramid, but there are so many OTHER things that go into it. It's mind boggling. Maybe part of it is being the little low-level underling that I am, and I quite literally have EVERYTHING to learn. But I don't think that's it. You hear the "masters" saying all of the time how they're still learning. The horse is the greatest teacher, and every horse teaches you something new.

So I try to look for something I can learn out of every ride or every work out. I try to get inside of my horse's head (easier in some creatures than others). Whether it's an actual desire to learn something new or just to figure out why they're doing what they're doing at that moment, I like to get to the root of things in their little walnut-sized brains.

So today, I noticed something interesting as I was lunging Indigo. For one, she was a hellion. She did NOT want to stand tied while getting ready any let me know this by rearing repeatedly. This has been a recurring problem, and she will likely have a date with the Post of Knowledge once the weather gets reliably nice and the ground thaws. Anyway, headed out into the ring to lunge.This normally takes maybe 10 minutes. I don't want to wear her out, just work on lunging skills. It's something I want her to know how to do. Anyway, I send her out on the line and she breaks into a frantic trot, then bucks into the canter. So I send her on for a few circles, then ask her to transition back down the trot. We spend a few minutes working on the trot-canter-trot transitions and she's getting pretty good at them, and her balance is definitely improving. But I noticed something interesting.

She always strikes off on the left lead. Every single time. She seems to prefer to canter on the right lead, and when we're going right she swaps over to the right after the first stride. If we're going left, then she strikes off left, and only swaps to right if she decides she wants to run away (which happened frequently today). Her changes are still lovely and clean, which again, gives me hope for someday teaching her to do them on command from her back. I'm a little worried about counter canter, but that'll come with time. I'm just really curious about this. It's not like she just picked her favorite lead because she was on a straight line, she was on a circle, going right, and struck off on the left lead every single time, then would swap back to the right. Like clockwork.

I'm not quite sure what this means yet. It will definitely take some pondering.

We're also starting work on basic lateral work with leg yields and leg yields down the wall. She's picking it up rather well, faster in some areas than I expected, but focus was a major issue today. Didn't help when The Horse Whisperer came into the ring to do "groundwork" with his mare. I have nothing against any of the natural horsemanship practitioners. I understand that selling DVDs and clinics and such is how you make your living, so I get why you try to get the "my way or the highway" attitude going. But seriously, this kid needs another DVD set. Of someone, anyone else. His theories aren't wrong, but he's not getting them. He's just trying to emulate what he sees. Which is alright, but frustrating when I'm trying to ride at the same time and he's spewing a TON of white noise to get her to listen to him. Not productive for him, and spooking my mare when he cracks the whip. She was also finding the open doors quite distracting. I was thrilled by them because it meant that it was finally warm enough to not need the heater going in the barn to keep the water from freezing. 48 degrees baby!

Unfortunately, won't be riding the next two days. I'm working the later shift and until I find a shower that I can borrow in town, I can't ride before work. People tend to get upset when you come to make their food and you smell like barn. I can't figure out why. After that we're back on schedule though! I'm loving the beginnings of spring!

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