Tuesday I was finally able to get Amber out and go for a short ride. It was absolutely amazing the difference I felt in just her walk right away. She was so much smoother, and she also just felt so much more content. The problems with her falling in to the left – which just fyi she’s always been prone to do ever since I started her – and her recent tendency to bow out to the right, which I had attributed to a small, oddly shaped arena, appeared to be more because she felt uncomfortable. She was almost dead straight as we warmed up at the walk, and she just felt like she had such smooth swing in her back.
The really smooth swing didn’t last through the whole ride, but it was amazing how much better she felt. Her trot work is really coming along so nicely – she maintains her pace as well as most of her lift when I drop the reins, and she’s starting to give me a little extra when I pick up the reins. It’s a really cool feeling. She still needs encouragement a little more than I’d like to keep a forward pace, but she’s doing well.
I’m not very well-versed in dressage, but I’m really liking the feeling she’s giving me when she’s accepting the contact better. She feels long and fluid, but also collected and elastic. If that makes sense. I’m not very good at all trying ti describe and put into words how things feel when I ride. But I’m really pleased with her trot.
Her canter to the left is doing really well. She had a wheeee! moment when I knew she was feeling better, then settle right back into the work. It was nice to see how much better she felt. She was a lot less focused to the right, and I really had to tell myself that it was time to stop babying that side and get her thinking along the same lines as the left. So I we had a short canter-trot-canter-trot-canter-trot session. She would start off really nicely in the canter, then just let it fall to the wayside, so I worked on keeping her cantering during the good moments, bringing her down to a trot and rounding herself, then cantering again softly. That really seemed to help, and we ended on a really good note. A very sweaty note.
I hopped on for another short ride yesterday, and I was super pleased with her. She really only has to be told something isn’t right one ride. The next ride she absolutely is determined to do it right to the best of her ability, and that’s just what she did. She wasn’t as fluid in her walk this ride, and a bit of her leaning was back, but she was bugging me to get out. She even knocked my phone out of my hands at one point to get my attention. Oh Amber.
I’ve been debating whether or not I should grab a dressage whip since she’s been a bit inconsistent in her trot pace. It would also maybe help with lateral movement to the left, but that’s the direction of her bad hip anyway, sooooo…… But she’s also pretty terrified of whips and their noises. Poor thing thinks she’s done something absolutely horrible if one is snapped just in her general vicinity. But I’ve been riding with my spurs beneath my spur rest, and yesterday I put them on the spur rest, and it was just what the doctor ordered.
She was a little startled when I first asked her to trot and she really felt the spur, but she soon settled. She wasn’t as in the contact in the trot as she has been, but I attribute that to her greenness and non-knowledge yet. We have moments where I can really feel her push forward, and I’m not prepared so it throws me back a bit and she slows down like “oh too much sorry ma” and then I laugh, shake my head and keep going. Sweet girl is trying to understand me and I am not doing a good job of it for her.
But her canter was much better today. She’s still stiff in her ribcage to the left – which due to her issues is totally understandable – and she’s still weak on that right side, but she was trying her best for me. I worked on the right lead to get that over with early since we worked on it more than I’d initially wanted on Tuesday. I could really feel her want to dive her shoulders down on the long side, so I made the command decision to do large circles. That really helped her to soften and relax so that when I let her go straight she stayed that way.
Her left circle was super. She really tried to be softer in her ribcage, and I think she’s right on for developing the softness in the left side of her body while not allowing her right side to drift outside the circle and vice versa on the right lead. All in all she was really great. She’s happy to be getting out again, more importantly she’s bugging me to go out, and I think she’s happy she’s learning new things. She’s not just getting bored anymore.
I finally signed up for Master Dressage! I’ve seen their facebook posts and snippets from the lessons for a while now and I really agree with their theories in training but mostly how the rider sitting can affect the way the horse can travel. I’m super excited to start delving into that.
Today starts the strange August Thursdays, and I don’t start until 8 for the whole month. I’ll be doing a short ride this morning, hopefully right as the sun is coming up. I want to have a little fun with the poles, but we’ll play it by ear. She might be wild. Ha. Hopefully this whole month I’ll be able to ride early outside of the heat for once. Who am I kidding? It’s just muggier in the mornings. There is no heat break in summer.
By the way, as you can tell her face is icky and hairless. Most of that is the salve from TTT over the fungus spray that I haven’t cleaned off yet, but she gets so sweaty in that divot on her forehead where she has forehead muscles that it just grows fungus and is gross underneath her fly mask. So I was attempting to get her forelock out of the way. Well…..I uh….succeeded? Now she just looks funny haha!