Monday, August 13, 2012

Dance partners

Trying to decide who is leading the dance.
Having a 1,100 pound dance partner can sometimes be challenging--especially when there is so much for both of us to learn. Our trot is a constant work in progress and while we are making headway, some days the discombobulation that ensues (literally) bounces between frustration and hilarity. What to do, what to do? Besides, of course, keep practicing. Well, the other night, he and I had a bit of an epiphany. Actually, I had the epiphany and he said, "It's about time!" On the heels of watching all these fabulous Olympic dressage horses dancing in time to music, I remembered how well Calabar responds to tempo changes when we do ground work. What if we tried it (gasp!) in the saddle?

Many, many people suggested humming to Calabar to help me work through my post-accident anxiety but I really hadn't done much with music. I talk to him incessantly while riding, but that doesn't help with keeping our timing on track. So the other night, I started singing to him as we trotted, encouraging him to keep a steady gait and playing with tempo as a way to get him to speed up and to slow down.

I got happy ears and we managed to do a much better job of moving forward at a steady pace than we normally do. Hm.

Steve contends that it is actually me keeping my own timing better which in turn directs Calabar more clearly. I suppose that is true, but my pony deserves some credit for pretending to enjoy my singing and for letting me lead. My equine dance partner is also a good singing coach--sideways ears and funny looks immediately occur when I wander off key. The look I get when it happens reminds me of when Katie was a little girl and didn't know what off-key meant, just told me I "sounded wrong."

Calabar has always responded  to music, likely because it was a part of his life on the track. He will speed up or slow down based on the tempo of what I'm singing and always perks his ears when he hears music from anywhere. His taste is particular, though. He doesn't like minor keys or heavy metal, for example. The neighbors were playing Led Zeppelin one afternoon and Calabar's head went straight up, eyes wide, as Robert Plant blasted out, "Been a long time since I rock and rolled." Then there was some dancing sideways until we got into the indoor arena where the guitar licks were muffled a bit. My horse appears to prefer the mellower sounds of Bonnie Raitt and The Dixie Chicks, but with this new-found entertainment, it looks like we'll have to expand our repertoire.

That being the case, and knowing my brain will only hold so many song lyrics, I have dusted off my ancient (but still functioning) iPod and there is a new playlist on it called "Calabar" based on what I think will work and some friendly suggestions. Also based on what I think I can actually sing.

And the dance continues.


Anonymous said...

It gives him a lovely way to sync with you and follow your rhythm - how fun. I have fond memories of doing drill team routines to music in college . . .

lmel said...

I sing to Harley all the time--not sure it always works for tempo in the woods, but it keeps the scary monsters at bay! :) At college, we had an old record player (I'm dating myself) that we used for schooling the youngsters--Wildwood Flower was my favorite--nice rhythm.

Suzanne said...

I love riding to music... sometimes I get inspired to pretend Freestyle other times I use it to time trot or canter sets.... Enjoy!