Early Days


Wednesday night was dressage practice and overall it was a blah ride. Nothing horrible – no ‘incidents’, but also little-to-no relaxation and a number of different evasions (faux spook, cross-canter/swapping, head tossing). We rode with a barn-mate we hadn’t ridden with in a while, each doing our dressage tests for each other (hers were fab, mine were awful), and she kindly shared thoughts and observations:

  • Ask for more. 
  • Prepare for transitions and turns earlier – it should look clearly like he knows where we are going and what we’re doing.
  • Move inside hand way off of his neck, for more even and steady contact but still having main connection with outside rein. (This is a good alternative to the uberstriken I’ve been doing, especially during a test.)
Thursday at work, I found myself googling things like “how to help my horse enjoy dressage.”  I really want it to be fun for both of us. I’d like to get Hemie back to that mental place of thinking dressage is an interesting puzzle to figure out rather than a hard, boring chore. 
I decided to try a new approach to our warm-up before our dressage lesson. Here’s what I came up with:
I decided to think hunters instead of dressage.  Still relaxed, still forward, still good connection. But fun and happy rather than pissy and sassy.  When we achieved forward, relaxed flatwork, I rewarded Hemie with a little hop (yes, in my dressage saddle. That’s how we eventers do.)  He caught on quick and we had a happy productive warm-up. The strategy really worked! Amazing how much of riding is mental, isn’t it?
We also incorporated the circle of doom. AKA the 4 poles exercise. 
It was a really good check of our connection, balance, and rhythm. This combined with the crossrail made for a warm up that was productive and fun.
For our dressage lesson, I handed the test sheets to my trainer and we straightaway went into them, doing each test just once. My focus was on keeping us both happy and relaxed, and it worked! We had pleasant, forward rides with some really good moments, and no issues. I think for now that’s exactly what we need, and then maybe later we can up the ante again by asking for more/harder work. For now (and especially for the show tomorrow), we just want relaxed and forward and happy. 
I did some more pre-show beautification, including a tail bang. I didn’t want to go too short, so I took off about 2 inches. I must admit it does look fuller now:
Tonight will be mostly packing the trailer, maybe a turn-out or bareback hack for Mr. Heems. Then show day tomorrow!

11 comments on “Flatfun

  1. Good luck at the show :)


  2. Good luck!


  3. Good luck at the show! Have fun :)


  4. Good luck!


  5. Yay for keeping you both happy!!

    Here's to a great show- Henry and I are cheering for you!


  6. Good luck at the show!!


  7. Good luck!


  8. We call it the circle of death around here, but it really is a great exercise! Good luck at the show!


  9. The 4 poles exercise is one of my favourites, really simple yet very testing :) Good luck at the show :)


  10. Good luck!! :)


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