January 8, 2010

Pats On The Back

It's always good when someone validates your hard work. Every so often, we all need someone to pat us on the head and say, "good girl." (Yes, I share that attribute with my geriatric dog)

Last night, we trucked over to the indoor arena across the street -- I would have ridden over there, but BO was horrified at the thought of crossing a road in the dark (hey, MY horse is road safe!) and insisted we ride in the trailer. No doubt the horses are bemused by the literally one-minute trailer ride.

P met me for a dressage lesson. I'd been feeling good about things and I am happy to report that P gave us an A!! Her comments:

Ooo, the canter is now balanced, rhythmic and packaged -- no more strung out horsey!
Solo is consistent in the bridle and lifting his back at the trot.
New farrier is doing good things as he is now tracking up well.

And the biggest impact for me: we should now be thinking and riding like a First Level dressage horse. The biggest change there is that now we need to make the poll the highest point. When we started, the only way to lift the back was to lower the neck as a lever. Now, Solo has learned to lift and use his back (you can even feel the new muscle behind the saddle, it's COOL!), so now he must graduate to traveling in a First Level outline.

Me = excited!

Our assignment:

-Begin to incorporate 15 m canter circles. Do NOT listen when Solo whines about how they are haaaaaaaaaard. I MUST sit up and sit back, visualizing riding an imaginary canter pirouette and staying over that hind leg, no hunter-creeping forward.
-Put in more lateral work: shoulder-in, leg yield, shoulder-fore, to get him lifting and using his shoulders. Remember to keep the inside leg AT the girth, no cheating and moving it back to push haunches out.
-Keep working and increase frequency of work on changes within gaits: compression of the trot in collection and then expanding it out to medium trot. Solo is not strong enough yet, I can feel it, but in a month or two, P says he may be ready to start doing some real lengthening at the trot. SWEET!


  1. Oooh, congratulations on the validation from your trainer :) It's always great to know that all your hard work really pays off. Have fun making Solo a First Level Dressage Horse! :D

  2. Congrats on the good girl pat. Everyone needs one from time to time. Plus you have been working so hard, a little validation goes a long way.

  3. Thanks! You are right, it goes a looooooong way given the amount of frustration, confusion, fury, and sheer stubbornness it took to get here!

  4. Agreed on the need for an occasional good-girl! I can take a lot of constructive criticism, but sometimes it helps so much to just be told, "Yes, you're on the right track."

  5. I just found your blog, funny, my horse and I are working on the same things...want to do XC eventually and taking dressage lessons. He is a greenie, but willing and learns so FAST! I on the other hand have always been a hack rider despite being a jumper, and working at a jumping barn when I was younger. I rode at Devon once, but only b/c a snotty client didn't show up! And riding a perfectly schooled horse is SO much easier than trying to teach your horse dressage and also never having done it yourself! The jumping MAY come easier, we will see! :) We just started lessons this year, after I overcame some major fear issues....overhorsed, broke my shoulder, etc....
    Anyway, I look forward to discovering more on your blog!!

  6. Definitely, mm!

    And welcome, jackson. I started out in your shoes -- growing up I rode school horses who mostly knew the drill. So I 100% agree -- it's a totally different story trying to TEACH a horse the drill. Especially when one may be, uh, really really rusty. Not that I would know. Uh, yeah.