|Always so alert ...|
|Somewhat reluctantly obedient|
Ahhh, horses. So blessedly inconsistent! That's both bad and good. Bad, because you never know which horse you're going to get. Good ... because it's like having 4 different horses, lol :)
Last Saturday, S was out at the barn and snapped a few pics. Jade went through her typical thing; started out ok, progressed to not so good, ended up well. I'd decided to put a little more pressure on her, and ramp things up a bit, so I set up the "circle of death" with poles. (4 poles on a 60 foot circle at 12, 3, 6, and 9.) My only plan was just to trot those poles. I set it up in the jumping ring, and she started out pretty stiff and tense. I spent plenty of time at the walk and walked her over the poles in all different directions. When she did that well, I moved on the trotting the circle.
Sadly, things spiraled downhill. She began to THROW her haunches to the outside, blowing by my outside leg, and trying to pop her shoulder and drag me around the poles. She began to rush them, jump them, and became just generally unreasonable. I took her to the opposite end of the ring and worked her down, growling and spinning her until she shook off her "witch" persona. Brought her back to the poles and she was better, but still unhappy in general, so I hopped her over another teeny crossrail off a short turn twice and ended there.
The following Wednesday, she was awful. She just felt peeved off to be working. I was even riding her in her "favorite" ring :( Not sure what was going on, it was a very unproductive ride. I had a few random poles set out to trot over here and there, but no specific "pattern" or anything. Didn't canter, just trotted one of the tiny crossrails and she again tried to blow off my leg and wanted to lose her haunches. I ditched the jump and focused on some lateral work for a few, and finally she VERY grudgingly did what I asked. For the first time, I quit not feeling like I'd accomplished anything. It was an unproductive AND an uncomfortable ride; my back was killing me afterwards!
Over at the eventing barn, I rode a LOVELY Morgan/Tbred cross I'm in LOVE with named Spellbound. I rode him in the indoor, and trainer was pretty happy w/ the fact that I'm getting w/ her program:) I'm holding my hands correctly, using my seat more effectively, and not getting so still in the arms. She didn't have to tell me to sit back ONCE ... AND I lowered my stirrups 3 holes. Success! Today, I rode another lovely bay gelding, Ricky Bobby (yes, lol! that's really his name). I realized I'm feeling what it's like to have a horse be REALLY engaged and lifted through the back and on the bit. Poor Tiki never really got there, probably because I just never rode horses that went correctly. Ricky Bobby was very responsive to my hands and seat, and my confidence in my dressage skills is increasing daily.
Fast forward to my ride on Jade today. I'd already ridden RB, so when I got on the mare, I rode her exactly like I did him. Shoulders back, elbows on top of hips, leg on, supporting outside rein. I used my seat ask her to lift her back, and my leg to push her up into my hand. She. Was. Wonderful. The BEST ride I've had on her ever! She didn't get fast, she kept her hips behind her shoulders, she didn't root on the reins, she didn't curl up behind the bit, she was on the aids and working perfectly. I didn't spin her once, she was fabulous. I think she was so shocked to be ridden ON the bit, she didn't know what to do w/ herself, lol! I've never honestly FELT what a real dressage horse is like. I thought I had, but really I hadn't. ALL the horses at the event barn go exactly the same, it's so cool. I rode Jade like she was one of them, and it was great :) I jumped her a TON over both normal sized crossrails, and a super tiny little brush box. I made long straight approaches, short turn approaches, AND I did 2 as a line, trot in/trot out. Her canter after the jumps was fantastic; relaxed, rhythmic, and not hauling on me at all. She doesn't overjump at all, but she does leave a little long sometimes. I always work to get her right to the base, nice and slow. She didn't rush, she didn't get crooked, she was great. I think I am going to ride her after the event barn all the time, I think riding those beautifully trained horses are helping me tremendously. GREAT day!