I love my days off because I get to spend the whole day with Flynn, relax, and catch up on my to do list. But the next day back at work is always something that I look forward to as well. I guess that’s a good thing – it means I like my job! Today was an interesting day because my trainer left half-way through to go teach an all-weekend-long clinic, and we spent the morning prior to her departure doing regular chores and helping the vet breed (not live cover) one of my trainer’s mares! It’s so exciting to think that she’ll be having a gorgeous foal.
I got to ride two horses in the afternoon: the lovely four-year-old project mare I’ve been working with and the sales gelding that I adore. Both rides were similar in that they started out being not great (the gelding was distracted and the mare had, for the first couple minutes, quite forgotten how to steer). But they both ended really well with me feeling relaxed and like we’d accomplished what we’d set out to do. I think that dressage training has to be about those little moments where the horse finally settles into a through and supple shoulder-in or tunes into the half-halt for the first time or just makes a halt transition without drama. All of those fleeting instants of perfection make the sport addicting!
All three of the horses I rode today couldn’t have been more different from one another. The first horse was one of the sales horses that we have right now, and he was interesting to ride because he’s very much not my type. He’s gorgeous and tall, but surprisingly downhill and short-strided. I had a huge amount of trouble getting him to do a trot to walk transition. Seriously. I could keep him round and soft, but I couldn’t get him to respond to my half-halt and request for the transition. Instead, he just kept trotting along and either got deeper in the bridle or came above the bit. My trainer said that I needed to make things more black and white for him by bending him around my inside leg with a leading inside rein and then “close the door in his face” by closing my hand on the outside rein. The reason this was difficult was that I had to stay very soft and light in my seat and not to get heavier or stronger. This was made difficult by how heavy the horse would get. In short, the easiest things were hard and it was an interesting ride to reflect on!
The second horse that I rode was the polar opposite. He’s one of my trainer’s personal horses and he’s super loose and springy. He was a lot of fun to warm up because he’s able to give such a neat feel of thoroughness. To me, I always see the horse in the back of my mind as being a channel that energy should flow through from tail to poll. Sometimes there are kinks or blockages in the channel – stiffness, crookedness, etc. But some horses, like this one, can feel completely unblocked and free.
The last horse I rode is the four-year-old that we recently backed. She’s so sweet and quiet, and she’s doing walk/trot/canter work quite well now. She’s also a bit on the lazy side and needs a fair amount of encouragement to keep going sometimes. But I love how quiet she is and I’m impressed with how well she’s doing. My trainer wants her to go back to a bit of lunging, though, so that she can become more re-confirmed in the contact again.
So it was a good day of riding and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!
Gigi and I jumped yesterday! It was really fun; we put together a nice little loopy course of three jumps (because that’s all we had standards for) and had a confidence-building, fun day.