I’ve got just under six weeks until the first dressage schooling show of the season; Gina’s had about a month off due to lameness, but I’m not too worried about it. I had planned to spend most of the winter hunting and very deliberately not doing dressage so that Gina could enjoy a mental break. Hunt season isn’t over, and I’m still planning to get her out a few more times. Our current focus, though, is shifting back to dressage.
Gina’s coming off her break feeling better than ever. She’s moving really, really well and is more forward and less stiff than I expected her to be. (She’s so forward, in fact, that she’s freaking her regular lesson kid out, which is endlessly hilarious to me. Is that mean?) Our connection has also been great; she’s soft and giving in the bridle and all the riding I’ve done on Moe has improved my hands.
We’re tackling First Level again this year. My goal is to win a year end award from GCC; to do so, I’ll need to get 5 scores from 3 different judges and ride First Level test 3 at least once. All the pieces of First Level are there for us: our leg yields are good, I’ve been working on improving geometry, and I’m almost certain we can manage the shallow canter serpentines without flying changes. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what our warm-up routine will be. Since I can haul myself to shows, I can now arrive as early as I’d like, which I think will help us have a less tense test. Plus, since I’m the show secretary for the whole season, I can schedule myself whenever I want. 😉
Since Gina’s coming off a break, I’ve been keeping her rides around 30 minutes. I work on establishing a good connection right away, making sure she’s listening to all my aids, and making sure I’m riding correctly. Are the brakes working? Is she hanging too hard on my inside rein? Is she moving away from my leg? Am I keeping my shoulders even? Am I looking up? Last week, we simply worked on maintaining our connection at all three gaits; this week, we’ve been doing more lateral work. Next week, we’ll get our lengthenings underway again and gradually increase our ride times.
I’ll also be bringing our conditioning hacks back later this week. Not only does Gina seem to enjoy getting out of the arena for trot and canter sets around the hay meadow, she’s got to regain her pre-injury fitness level to go hunting again. Plus, there’s only so much dressage I can do before I need a mental break.
I’m thrilled Gina’s recovered and can’t wait to get the show season underway! And, you know, get back to
day drinking and jumping stuff having fun in the hunt field.