Dressage lesson

I was so pleased to have an dressage lesson this morning with my friend (and trainer) Anne. Anne is very modest about her dressage skills and ability to instruct effectively, but trust me when I say she is phenomenal. Plus, Anne and I are like…totally BFFs, which makes it even more fun when I can snag her for a lesson.

It’s been months since my last lesson, and I knew that I needed one. Ideally, I’d love to ride with Anne every freaking day (which I did, just about, when our horses were boarded at the same place), but between our schedules, we just hadn’t been able to make a regular lesson time work.

So Anne came out this morning and I hopped on Princess Pony and went to work. Now, I’ve been working very hard with Gina on our flatwork; I think Gina has improved immensely, and I feel like my riding is better. Riding a variety of horses has helped; becoming fitter has helped. But I was struggling with dreadful canter transitions and felt tense and stiff, but couldn’t really figure out how to correct myself.

It’s so helpful to have someone on the ground: Anne was immediately able to spot the problem. My right shoulder rolls forward, which puts me off balance. I have a difficult time tucking my seat underneath me in my jumping saddle, which makes it harder to apply my leg aids effectively. And at the canter, I become very tense, stiffen my hands and wrists, and don’t give Gina an opportunity to relax.

Anne’s solution to the seat problem was sitting trot, which on Gina is close to torturous. Gina’s trot is big, floaty, and bouncy. I felt like I was slithering all over the saddle, killing my horse’s back, and looking truly hideous. Anne insisted it was an improvement. Canter departures from the sitting trot were much better than from posting. Gina really stepped up into the canter and didn’t fly around off balance with her head in the air. Success!

My most important takeaway from today’s lesson was this: don’t push too hard. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, all the time, immediately. If Gina and I do half a 20-meter circle of quality canter, take it. Don’t let it fall apart, and canter around and around until perfection is regained. Take the half circle of good work, and try to make a whole circle next time. I sometimes get so hung up on having everything just so that Gina and I end up tense, frustrated, and unproductive.

It felt good to have a pleasant, productive lesson- but more importantly, I was ecstatic to spend time with my friend!

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5- Your Show Team

Day 5- Your Show Team

My show team here in Oklahoma is composed of good friends and a decidedly unhorsey boyfriend.

There’s Anne, my amazing trainer (who’s also my friend). She helps me stay cool and calm, helps me warm up, and lets me know when it’s time to beat the pony.

Anne and the famous Atut.

Arguably the most important member of the team is my pal Levi (of hunter pace fame). Levi is my go-to guy when my horses and I need a ride somewhere. While I have a three-horse trailer, I don’t have a truck to pull it. So Levi graciously chauffeurs us around, whether it’s to the lake for a trail ride or halfway across the country.

Levi (right) and me (left) training for the hunter pace last spring.

The third and final member of the Hand Gallop show team? Johnny, my boyfriend of nearly four years. Johnny is not a horse person. Before meeting me, he hadn’t been on or around a horse since he fell off one at Boy Scout camp at age eight. These days, Johnny is comfortable enough around horses to groom them, lead them, and sort of tack them up. He even volunteers at the therapeutic riding center where I work! But he still doesn’t have fun at local dressage shows when I tell him stuff like “Can you hold Gina? Don’t tie her up, she’s going through a ‘not tying’ phase right now.”

Johnny likes cities. (We vacationed in Detriot once!)