Who Stole Spring?

April 8, 2009 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

For realz, it was snowing when I got to the barn yesterday.  Whirling, swirling, wind-driven snow.  Both Klondike and I find this completely unnacceptable.

In any case, in the pursuit of greatness, my intention yesterday was to do some flatwork, concentrating on all the things we’ve been working on lately:  quiet hands, maintaining contact, and forrrrrward.   Klon tends to start off a little sticky (even with my fabulous roller-ball spurs), and I can’t tell if he’s just stiff and needs a really good warmup, or if he needs shoes. 

Despite the shortness of stride at the beginning of our ride, he was moving forward when asked initially, which was nice.  He’s also maintaining his pace a little better, so I’m not having to nag at him as much to keep the same rhythm.  Yay!  Of course, this could be because of the magic spurs, but I was doing my best to pay attention to how often I really needed to activate their power. 

As usual, my biggest obstacles to achieving quality gaits are me.  I had to use the modified rein-grip that Allie showed me pretty early in the right, else I kept finding my reins had lengthened.  Klon would get fussy with his head, probably in response to the inconsistency, which of course would put us in a spiral of suck pretty quickly, if I hadn’t worked on it. 

A few minutes later I had to lay my crop across my hands too (holding it under my thumbs) to maintain even-ness a little better.

He definitely likes these things, the trick will be for me to learn to keep the same feel without those tricks.  It all sounds so easy in theory… keep your hands steady with fingers closed… yet it’s been a bad habit of mine for years, as much as I know better. 

Fortunately we have a dressage torture session lesson tomorrow, and past experience has taught me that if ANYONE can fix me, it’s Stefany.  She’s a magician.  Of course, the last time I rode with her I could not walk for days, so I’m not sure I should be so excited…

Eventually, last night, we managed a lovely free flowing trot, with real bending and real movement laterally off my leg.  Yay!  And get this, when I sit straighter on a turn, it’s much easier to establish bend with my inside leg!  Crazy, isn’t it?

The one other hiccup in our ride was when Klondike decided one corner of the ring was very scary.  I’m not sure what caused this, we’ve been riding past all the same stuff for weeks.  Perhaps a cat or bird was in there pretending to be a horse-eating monster, I don’t know.  But it took a good fifteen minutes, and lots of forward/spiralling/circling to work it out. 

After our ride I did the same ground stretching routine that I did with Afton.  Klondike REALLY enjoys the cat stretch (the one where you sort of poke a magic spot on their butt and they hump their rear end and the back makes a series of alarming popping noises).  Not only did he stretch admirably, but he also stuck his head way out and made the “Yeeeees! Oh Yeeeees!” face, complete with upper lip stretch.  Carrot stretches and front legs were great, he’s definitely very flexible through the shoulder.  His hind legs seem a little stiffer- he may just have not been relaxed, but it seems like the resistance was much greater there, so I’ll be concentrating more on that in the future, and under saddle, more lateral work to free them up.

I will do my level best to remember my camera tomorrow, so you all can see the kind of greatness our dressage trainer inspires. 🙂  Goals are- fix me (duhhhhr), but also to work heavily on transitions – maintaining balance through them, since we tend to fall apart a little bit through those (particularly the downward ones).

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Claritin and Cross Country Dressage For Dummies

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