Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spotty dressage lessons

At Breeders' Cup, I was surrounded by sleek Thoroughbreds of many colors but without spots of any kind. However, I managed to squeeze in a dressage lesson and not on a big, bay Thoroughbred or fancy warmblood, no--Sparky has spots. Meanwhile, the spotty horse was at home getting a dressage lesson of her own.

Duck footed dressage on a spotty pony
Lucky for Lena, her rider knows how to not have duck feet. Lucky for me, Sparky forgives duck feet. And doesn't my pretty, spotty mare look lovely? Yes, yes she does.

Lena and Allie listening to Ellen
There is a lot to remember with dressage and it is painfully obvious that I have a ways to go. At my last clinic with Ellen, Calabar was introduced to his hind end. "My what?" he said. Since then, we have worked a lot on that and on circles and bending to teach him to use that big round butt of his. Amelia--who actually knows and has worked with Ellen--had Sparky show me where we were headed and that is helping me connect some dots.

Oh you and your duck feet, says Sparky
Ellen will be back in January and March. I am planning on Calabar and me being enough further along to keep this interesting for us all. Sparky helped a lot and it did actually translate when I introduced what I learned to Calabar. The key with Bar--as with most horses--is to recognize the try and give the release as soon as I felt it. Being able to do so limits the irritation factor and increases the responsiveness factor--equally important when it comes to learning--but it's not always easy.

The other key take away, besides recognizing the try? Slapping my own thigh with the dressage whip makes the end of the dressage whip hit (gently) the horse's hip. My lack of coordination and unfamiliarity with aids made me feel quite bumbling with the dressage whip so that one tiny piece of information made that little piece of anxiety go away. There are many other pieces of anxiety, of course, but that bit no longer keeps me awake at night.

p.s. Spotty horses can make great dressage instructors. Many thanks to Sparky!

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