My focus this week has been on getting ready for the dressage show at my barn this weekend. It should be pretty fun and a little different than the average show as not only is it a costume show but also all the boys are doing it too! My husband Matt, my brother Cyrus, and Tom (my sister Aubrey’s BF) will all be riding in Intro test B. It should be pretty fun to watch.
Thankfully Strider seems to be feeling fine now- I think his problem last week was a sore muscle as he recovered in a few days with no ill effects. Luckily I was able to get his feet trimmed on Saturday since that usually makes him a little sore for a day or two as well (not my farrier’s fault I promise- he has done wonders for Strider’s feet and his being a little sore after trims has been improving over time.) and he was initially scheduled for Thursday evening which would have made him sore right on the day of the show probably. I rode him last night and he was amazing! He was still a little tender in his feet (I could tell if we hit a thin spot in the footing) but he was really wonderful considering that he hadn’t been ridden in four days and he normally has no more than two consecutive days off (he doesn’t do well with lot’s of days off in a row).
I also experimented with a different saddle last night. I have been riding in a borrowed Prestige Top Dressage and it fits Strider beautifully and is amazingly comfortable. However, I have been struggling a lot with my leg position lately and that is somewhat atypical of me. I am not saying my position is flawless; not by a long shot, but putting my leg forward is not a common issue. Looking down or tipping forward are very normal for me, putting my lower leg too far forward is not. I noticed that I had less of a problem keeping my leg in the correct position when I rode my friend’s horse in her Frank Baines saddle with a much flatter knee block, so I obtained a Wintec Isabel to try on Strider. I tried it with some trepidation as I hate CAIR due to it completely not working when I tried a Bates jumping saddle. It was so frustrating. But, I figured it was worth a shot. Miraculously, not only did the saddle seem to fit Strider really well, but I was also quite comfortable and was able to keep my leg in the correct alignment very easily. It was wonderful. It was easier to sit back and feel my center and keep my shoulders back. I really noticed the difference when I tried a leg yield in the trot- I felt the alignment and Strider’s movement more and even on the first try he really didn’t fuss at all. Amazing what happens when I ride correctly. He still had some moments. We are still really struggling with our stretchy chewies, but we did finally get a really good one at the end of our workout last night. Overall, it was a relief Strider was feeling better and trying the different saddle, though it complicates my decision on buying a new saddle, gave me good information.
Jennifer did well riding Vanya last night as well. After her recent breakthrough on Dundee she has realized the importance of gripping the reins but being loose in her elbows and it has helped to quiet her hands and improve her ability to get contact and communicate with more subtlety. She is doing very well at getting him to engage his body more and bend in the walk and trot. The canter is still a work in progress, but she did realize how to get him more forward so she can start asking for the bend and get him a bit more balanced as well. He is a very steady horse in many ways, but also can be very challenging as not all of his past training has been correct (raises hand- that would be my fault. I plead innocence based on mental incompetence as I was only a child). Jennifer is really doing well with him considering that he really isn’t actually trained for dressage at all. I also noticed a huge improvement in her level of patience with herself. If she didn’t get something right first try, she simply quietly kept at it. She didn’t get annoyed or uptight and she was even relaxed in her body, so it wasn’t just an external lack of frustration; she is actually internalizing what she is learning about riding each moment and not holding on to past mistakes. It is so wonderful to see her happier and les frustrated when she rides. I am hoping she gets some better scores at this show that can represent all this work and progress she has made.
I am not telling what my super cool costume will be for the show; I will post pictures afterwards. I will leave you in suspense until then. I have a lesson with Jo tonight and am super excited for that. My husband and Jennifer are still on the lookout for good ideas though (that are easy and affordable) so please feel free to comment if you have any ideas (or comments, thoughts, snide remarks etc.). Until next time…RAWR!