SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

March 18, 2013

The Becky Diaries: Day 7: Dressage

Monday is break day.  Well timed, as a windy, cloudy sky settles over us and makes for a good day to sit by the fire.

But Sunday was time to put together what we'd shown Encore during our first lesson and during his long lining session and see what we had.

The grey wunderkinds look on bemused.  Who is who??
The wind had changed direction and was blowing the fresh scent of the neighbouring cattle our way, so Encore was on high alert.  Add to that, the previous horse had dumped her rider (rider was unhurt) and hightailed it at Mach 10 back to the barn.  We tried to head her off but she gave us the finger and roared by, leaving Encore puzzled as to what the fuss was about.  I was left wondering if there was any chance I'd get a soft, round horse out of this.

Determined to stay focused, I started with our turn on forehand exercises we'd learned earlier in the week -- we've been practicing them before our lessons every day and Encore is getting much quicker at giving to them and I am getting better at keeping him moving forward into that give.  Suddenly, I had this lovely round walk beneath me and I began to feel a little hope for our afternoon!

Becky did not have us perform any special technical exercises this time; we just worked on creating quality within the gaits and enforcing the new Dressage World Order, since Encore had shown us he was perfectly capable in his long lining work.

Within the trot and canter, we just kept asking him three things:  (1) Move off thy inside spur.  (2) Go forward with thy hind legs.  (3) Give to thine contact.  Three commandments of dressage.

The tricksy part was knowing when to push for more and when to give and move with him.  Becky would have me sit, collect him into an eensy jog trot, leg yield him out and apply contact, pushing him into both to soften him.  Then, when his topline opened and relaxed, post and start pushing him forward over that line.  All while keeping your hands very steady, NOT throwing the contact away, and finding that hair-thin zone between riding into contact through resistance and just pulling his head around

At the canter, keeping him slow, again, I would sit, apply leg and contact, engage the core and thigh, and compress him, then immediately when his balance shifted and/or he softened, to relax and follow his motion forward.

Sara (working student) and Winston have more fun than Encore!
He was trying very very hard, but he still opined that the new rules seemed rather demanding.  He quickly figured out though, that life in compliance was much easier and less annoying and produced some VERY nice work.

I am so sad I was unable to get video of it; I guess I will have to reproduce it at home, ha.  But we were putting together elements -- Becky had fine-tuned my aids in our first lesson, then showed Encore the correct response on the long lines.  Now we were adding them up to equal more productive and successful work.  Building blocks were beginning to make a structure, one that is hopefully portable and doesn't blow out through the trailer slats!