Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dressage Doldrums


We are stuck in the dressage doldrums (a word I love which always makes me think of The Phantom Tollbooth).

Or at least, Annie thinks we are. 

The last few weeks I've been working on my seat in my cursed dressage saddle.  It's a really nice saddle, it fits me really well (at a 16.5) and it fits Annie really well.  It has nice leather, a deep seat, and exposed blocks.  I got it for a song (not really because if I had to sing for anything I'd be homeless). It's my body conditioned to a jumping saddle that hates it.  I can sit my butt in a saddle at a hand gallop but in my dressage saddle I struggle to keep my stirrups.

For awhile I wondered if maybe the saddle wasn't right for me, or maybe it didn't fit Annie.  She'd snark around in it with her head in the air and fling herself into the canter which felt like a jackhammer.  She wouldn't lift her back or go on the bit.  Then one night I rode in it entirely without my stirrups and I had my good pony back. 

It's not you it's me. 

I think it's the deeper connection it forces me to have with my horse, and inability to jam my heels down and clamp my lower leg on when the going gets tough.  So I've vowed to ride in it until I don't suck anymore (see you next year!). 

So the last several nights I've been working on adjustability within the gaits.  I spent months whacking the forward into Annie and now that it's permanently installed it's all she knows.  Which isn't exactly a bad thing.  Except our canter, while excellent for jumping, is more along the lines of hand gallop.  Not so good for the dressage.

She can go more forward at the canter (oh boy can she hang on to your saddle!) and at the trot.  But she doesn't understand that there is a slower gait then the working trot.  So I've been installing the half halt.  A few nights ago I installed half halt1.0 beta version.  Which is actually a whoa.  Oooops.  Now we have half halt 1.7.  She'll slow down while putting her head straight up in the air.  Getting closer.  So now we have a slightly slower trot (with snarky faces), a regular trot, and a steam engine trot. 

The canter.... hmmm..  We have regular hand gallop canter.  Then we have huff and puff and moan and swivel the ears for 7 strides of a very nice working canter because she hates it.   In fact it was so nice tonight I asked for a real hand gallop as a reward.  Luckily we have walls in the arena.  To the right, well, I'm just glad I stay on to the right forget about asking for any flexibility within the gait. 

I have a jumping lesson on the books for Friday to shake things up a bit. 

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