Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

A beautiful ride…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 6, 2009

Because I was going to be away from the stables for a week on my tour of America, I decided to try to squeeze in a lesson with my favorite student on Saturday morning.  She has been riding Dancer on the weekend for the past few weeks in addition to her regular lesson during the week on Tempo.  Poor boy – he tries, but he isn’t the best dressage horse in the world and I thought “A” might like to ride my girl.  I think at first, she was a bit unsure of herself, but this time, she did wonderfully!

Of course, I have been keeping her in the loop about the “new” way I have been riding Dancer and without being asked to do so, she has taken this to heart.  So, she really tried to sit well, hold Dancer up and try to get her round.  There were some very, very nice moments if I do say so myself.  I think Dancer is still trying to figure all of this out too…so sometimes she is confused about what we want and gets hollow, but she also takes advantage of the situation and just stops.  It is kind of funny – annoying, but also funny in an “interesting” (not ha-ha) way.  Horses are so much more intuitive than most of us give them credit for.  I have seen Dancer take advantage of a situation and go faster than I would like, but rarely have I seen her stop, like she loves to do with A.  If A’s attention waivers for a moment at the trot or she becomes the slightest bit unbalanced or she forgets to keep riding – Dancer immediately walks.  It is as if she is saying, “well, I am not going to keep doing all this work if you aren’t!”

On this particular ride, the number of stops were greatly, greatly reduced.  Also, she (the rider) was able to sit the downward transitions (planned and unplanned) with much more balance without allowing her upper body to be tipped forward.  Her sitting trot was also much better for longer periods of time.  There was no head-bobbing.  There was a little bit of a tendency to shorten her leg and thus loose a stirrup (but, who doesn’t?).  And, the biggest news of all, for her and for me, was that she cantered – TWICE!  This is HUGE because she has been letting a mental block keep her from cantering. In trying to dissect  why she was afraid to canter, we came up with a multi-pronged attack – build up the sitting trot so that the transition into and out of the canter wouldn’t unbalance her; develop independent and quite hands; put her on a horse with a nice canter who will canter when asked without running into it through a faster and faster trot.

When I saw how nicely things were going with Dancer on this particular morning, I just knew we had to give it a try.  Plus, Dancer’s canter has been amazing lately.  So, I prepped her and told her what to expect and then she went out and did it!  Dancer cantered about a half a circle and A was sitting just as lovely as you please.  It was smooth and round and controlled and we were both so excited we could hardly stand ourselves…until we realized that I was standing there with the video camera in my hand – not capturing this historic moment for future posterity.  I thought she was going to hop down and brain me.  But, I quickly told her that she just needed to do it one more time for the camera – and she did!  I was actually a little surprised that she agreed to do it, but honestly the first one was so good, she probably could have cantered forever.  Well, ok, not forever.  After one little moment where Dancer tried to do the dreaded speed trot (see how they take advantage!), A was able to get another good half circle of canter and I was able to capture it on camera.  I could not have been more proud or more excited.  And, I sincerely hope this helps to break down that mental block and we can move into the exciting world of cantering more often.

I had told A about the filming disaster from my ride on Friday (Dancer doing so well until the camera was on and then getting a little squirrely), so she convinced  me (yeah, she really had to twist my arm) to hop on and let her film me.  Dancer felt great.  She felt light in the front end and round through the back and not pulling on my hands.  We seriously had the nicest canter (to the left, no less) that I have ever felt on any horse and then the best transition to trot – trotted about 6 or 7 steps and then a lovely transition back to canter.  I was so excited!

Unfortunately, when we got back in the barn and checked the video, we realized that there had been an operator error and the camera was on when we thought it was off and off when we thought it was on – so I don’t have footage to share.  😦

A and I agree that we really need new “peeps.”  We aren’t doing each other any technological favors here.

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