Tuesday 11 September 2018

Just Dressage

Another Monday night, another Best Lesson Ever.

We continued on with the travers to shoulder in to travers exercise of last week. Having done a little studying in the meantime, I felt a lot more confident and less confused about where to put Audrey's feet. It's really not complicated at all...to recap, the horse maintains the same slight "C" shape bend in both, you just move the front end or back end to the inside track depending on which you're doing. My brain does not do well with left/right directions somehow, so lateral work tends to happen by feel rather than step by step thought processes, which makes for poorly written blog recaps!

- Tip I found useful for both: ask for the same amount of bend and energy and hind leg activity you'd ask for on a good 10m circle.

An added complication: EC told me to grab "bigger" spurs before I got on. "Longer and pointier but not TOO long and pointy" I think were her exact words, lol. I grabbed the "TOO long and pointy" ones, obviously, because they all seemed long and pointy to me, so I was feeling pretty aware of my leg. As was Audrey, lol.

On a related note, she went from sleepy when I got on to pretty darn lively as the ride progressed :)

Bridget being lively this summer, and now helping break my wall of text.
But it was really, really good. Audrey was happy to show off her moves and add some extra flair to a pretty boring exercise (for her, lol) The trot was getting pretty darn passage-y feeling, and that added stepping under and elevation makes it pretty easy to move her body around. So fun!

The canter got a little "western" when I accidentally goosed her with my outside leg when she started to drift. It's frustrating, I know better, and yet at least once a ride I fail to use my inside seatbone and outside rein effectively, panic when I lose her, and go straight to yelling with outside leg. One day I'll learn for real!

We finished up with nice canter work in both directions, alternating having her move out a little, then bringing it back to shoulder in or travers and putting it on the same 10m circle exercise as the trot work. The canter was rougher for me geometry wise, and I had so much horse it was a bit of a novelty for me, but I felt like we got there and ended at a good place.

Given my concerns with the spurs and Audrey being so ramped up, I was glad we didn't push me by experimenting more with flying changes tonight. Surviving one mini rodeo and fixing it was probably a wise place to leave things for me, lol.

So, even with some challenges, it was Best Lesson Ever because the energy and amount of forward she brought to the table was incredible - a feel like nothing I've ever experienced. There were a couple of times I rewarded her by asking her to move out of lateral work to a straight line and the power on tap there was pretty exhilarating! Like an airplane taking off.

Which brings me to yet more pondering. People at our barn are often like "Oh, I don't jump/event/barrel race/whatever. I just do dressage." Like it's the lesser, safer thing to do.

I'm just going to put it out there: If the amount of athleticism, energy, forward and power required to do upper level dressage well is anything like what I've been experiencing on Audrey - holy crap, "just dressage" riders have some serious guts. There's a fine line between brilliance and crazy in some of those horses, I bet.  It's incomparable to anything else I've ever done, and at least for me, a bigger adrenaline rush. I wish I was a better writer so I could give you some sort of apt comparison to sports cars, coiled springs, airplanes, bounce grids, whatever. But I've got nothing. Just some advice:

If you ever get the opportunity to ride an upper level horse, try it.

I'm pretty sure I'm now well and truly addicted to dressage. Not exactly where I thought my life's equestrian adventures would take me way back when, but here we are :)

Actual picture of us post lesson ;)



  1. Sounds very fun! I think of the feeling of more advanced dressage being like a speedboat powering up and the bow lifting. It's a lot more athletic and powerful than trotting a 20m circle at Training. Enjoy!

  2. Love that post-lesson pic! And I hear you about the athleticism. I think riding any athletic, talented horse is hard physically no matter what the discipline or level.

  3. ha omg, yea i'm pretty sure pushing the upper bounds of *any* horse sport takes extreme guts, strength, and dedication. dressage is HARD, yo! glad you're enjoying it so much with Audrey!! back in the isabel days i used to daydream about what it could feel like to ride more upper level movements.... but with charlie we're still working on things like.... uh.... steering and straightness so.... yea. ahem. lol