Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Improvisational Dressage

Today was a beautiful warm spring day. Uncle Dad has the outdoor arena so nicely harrowed that Brita decided we had done enough gallivanting on the roads (which I thoroughly enjoy) and it is time we did some "schooling". She says my "road canter" is just a little too flat and out of control, and I need to do some circles and get collected back up again. Last Saturday we went almost a mile on the roads seeing new sights and it was just lovely. We mostly walk with some trotting because there are a lot of hills. Brita says the hills help strengthen my back and haunches. I was ready to take that new strength for a spin. And, I wasn't real happy with being confined to the arena. So I decided to use my imagination and improvise. I had a lot of material to work with... two bawling cows, two tractors spreading manure, a Rottweiler on a chain, a galloping Appaloosa, and a dump truck.

To start with I was feeling pretty high. I did ignore the dog and the tractors for the most part, but I was having a hard time keeping to a trot. What I really wanted to do was work on my canter. I have heard that the best dressage horses, and even some really good saddleseat horses, have big bounding canters. My back an haunches were feeling pretty good, and I was getting quite a bit of air. Brita said that was OK, but the tail swishing up and down was "not cool". Then the dump truck happened.

I was trotting along in a fairly organised manner when the dump truck came by setting off Lucy the Appaloosey who lives in the paddock next to the arena. Brita pulled me up on the rail and gave me a warning. I made it halfway around the arena before Lucy got really wound up and started egging me on. My bounding canter started to stiffen until it was more of a crow hop. Brita turned me into the rail. I ducked left...I ducked right... so she put me right into the rail and thumped on my ribs with her heels. I wasn't sure if she wanted me to jump over or what but it began to occur to me that I might be in trouble. Then she smacked my neck and asked me if I knew what was wrong with me? Wrong? I thought we were doing pretty good. I'm running around in circles, and she's still sitting on top...My dressage canter was big and extravagant, those Pilates seem to be paying off. Why isn't everybody happy? It's a beautiful day! Lucy got in trouble too. Mom rounded her up and put her in the barn. Poor Lucy. Grounded.

We did a lot of cantering in circles. Besides the one bucking episode, Brita was very pleased with (most of) my circles. She said I didn't cheat and was very supple and upright. Since it was warm out, and it took me so long to get my thoughts in order I got pretty sweaty. I was ready to go back in and get cleaned up. The arena fence is nice an old and crumbly. I got tired and cranky and grabbed a big chunk out of it when we halted. I had wood sticking out of my mouth four inches on each side like a dog with a bone. Brita made me give it to her and said I was going to get splinters in my tongue

When we got back to the barn I got my first bath of the season. Well, half a bath. I was very good even when it tickled. The hot bath made me sleepy and Brita rubbed my face until I could barely keep my eyes open. Yaaawn! Now I'm resting in my cooler sheet drying off so Mom can brush me. I feel so clean and lazy. I hope next time we can go back out on the road though. Improvisational Dressage exercises are a lot of work.


SmartAlex said...

Two hours later, I'm seriously considering skipping my pilates class tonight. I'm pretty sure days like this are why many people longe their horses first.

Leah said...

love it. that was a lot like my day today too! first "bath", scary things, cantering too fast, lol.