Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rainy Day Dressage Calisthenics

So granted, it's not Texas-level, but Vermont just saw its rainiest June in over 100 years. Thankfully, my barn has an indoor - like most nicer barns in the northeast - or we would never ride, ever.

We've moved on from strict conditioning rides to dressage and strengthening rides. I am for 30-40 minutes each ride, which is about the limit of his muscle strength and mental tolerance right now. At the end of an intensive ride, he's very body-tired but not terribly sweaty or winded.

Generally, things are going really, really well. We've had a couple of utter shit rides, but on the balance they've been pretty good.

Two days ago, we worked on stretching and coming up over his back and connecting his hind end by getting and staying forward through all three gaits. I got some really nice canter steps out of him. We're in a weird place right now where small circles are actually easier for him, almost, because it's less for him to think about when his body is sprawled all over the place. I've never been in this place before, but when I put him on a 15m circle he's much more bouncy and together. 20m and he flails and trips and just can't even.

Last night, it was all about the lateral work. I started him off in-hand, getting big steps over behind, then backing up, then stepping in the other direction. Under saddle, it was all about the leg yields while warming up, then turns on the hindquarters (blah) and forehand (much better). Those resulted in a horse with a better idea of where his shoulders and legs were, and we stepped up to small circles and teardrops at the trot, then shoulder-in and haunches-in. I tried to keep mixing it up, sometimes using a short diagonal to swap bend, sometimes zig-zagging in leg-yield, sometimes coming back to the wall after a circle and staying in haunches-in.

I'm not going to pretend any of it was show ring quality, but he felt terrific as he worked through it: rounder, deeper into the bit, more connected to my hands, gradually lighter and more able to be responsive to my aids.

Let's pretend this is artistic and not just poor quality. Shine and great condition!

I'm really happy with both his progress and my own schedule right now. The only thing I wish I could add into the mix is more hillwork, but the rain has been so bad the fields are flooded.


Thanks for commenting! It's great to hear from you.