Monday, March 9, 2015

Slow, Steady, and on the Forehand

So our first ride back after taking February off was Tuesday and I wrote a little bit about that here, though I didn't critique it. To briefly recap, it was a nice short ride (~20 minutes) and I lunged her for just a few minutes first. She was super well behaved under saddle and felt really good.

On Thursday evening I rode with my friend from the barn and her horse, Rio. I don't know if it was because I didn't lunge her for a minute first or if she was just really excited that her friend was in the ring with her, but she was very bouncy! She did quite a bit of her trademark hopping/ bucking in place. When she does this it feels like she gets stuck and is trying to move forward, but can't, so the movement just comes out in the upwards direction. When this happens I try to keep her head up and moving forward. The remedy this time seemed to just be to let her canter in a 20 meter circle for countless laps. Usually she has trouble holding a canter for several laps, but not this time.

After I had let her canter to her heart's content and then take a walk break, she had cooled down a bit and we were able to do some nicer trotting and even finished with some stretchy circle. Overall, not a super productive ride, but It was fun to be riding with a friend and obviously Maggie was happy to be moving around!

Maggie's foamy lips + nipping Rio on the nose = New snip for Rio!

I rode again on Saturday and lunged Maggie just for a couple minutes prior to getting on. She was beautifully behaved and we had a really nice ride. I had forgotten my dressage whip, so I was having a little trouble trying to get enough energy from her to really step under herself, but regardless of that she went pretty consistently in a frame and was soft to my hands. I can tell that her balance is improving because when we go to change directions her rhythm stays much more consistent and she doesn't automatically throw her head up when I go to change rein - this is improvement! One of my barn friends was just finishing up lunging her horse as I was starting to ride, so I asked her to take a little video. We got approximately 27 seconds of video before it automatically stopped recording because I had no more space on my phone.

Some stills from the video:

I'd like to eventually get her poll up higher and get her stepping under herself more (so basically, I'd like to get her off her forehand), but hey, she's traveling in a consistent rhythm here and in decent balance - so I'll take it! The strength to really carry herself behind will come with time. I'm also really happy with where my lower leg is when I'm riding on the flat in my dressage saddle and it looks like I'l sitting up a tiny it straighter too, though I could still use to relax my shoulders. 

Sunday my friends and I made plans to ride again. This has been a great weekend in terms of weather (it's been almost 40 degrees which feels amazing right now) and if our outdoor ring wasn't completely covered in snow I would have loved to ride outside. I swear once it gets to around 40 degrees it smells like springtime... Anyway....

We all rode in the indoor and Maggie was little excitable at first. I did not lunge to begin with since I rode the day before (and there were others in the ring). I think perhaps she just starts out a little more scatter-brained when she's not the only one in the ring. She acts similarly in warmup at shows sometimes, so I think that makes sense? She settled in after a couple laps and seemed to be holding herself pretty consistently. We mostly worked just on the track because it's hard to do a lot of circles or later work with several people in that little ring. She was consistent and rhythmic in both direction again as well, which was nice.  

"Gimme dis"
We cantered in both directions and she picked up the correct lead every time - good girl! Her canter is still a little strung out in general (again, because she is lacking the muscle for it right now), but it does feel like it's improving. At the very end of the ride I asked her for the canter from the walk (which we really haven't worked on yet) and she tried very hard! It took her about 3 trot steps before she picked up the canter, but she definitely knew what I was asking and I was really pleased with that! 

It really really, really great to be back in the saddle ESPECIALLY when the temperature is above freezing! I scheduled a dressage lesson for this coming Tuesday, so I hope to get back to real work soon. I don't think Maggie has lost a beat since our last lesson, but I feel like I may have. My muscle memory just isn't quite there yet for some of these dressage basics.

Oh, and Maggie and/or her neighbor have now beavered through the entire top board of their stall walls:



  1. yay so glad you're back in the saddle! really seems like Maggie's retained everything too and is ready to GO! hopefully the weather continues to cooperate and that it's smooth sailing from here out :D

  2. I think she looks really good considering the weather and inconsistent riding!

  3. Maggie looks awesome!! Sounds like despite the break, you guys have had a productive winter. And bad, bad wood chewers. Naughty!

  4. I mean, considering you haven't ridden much at all, I think you both look great! You'll be back to top form before you know it.