Archive for the 'Riding Lessons' Category

Blithe Spirit

amywink April 22nd, 2012

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My Blithe Spirit rose burst into exuberant bloom this week, just a month after planting the bare root that arrived from David Austin. I’ve counted 16 buds on the plant, though it’s less than a foot tall as of yet! So far, it’s a perfect representative of my little Tristan and the bloom timing is a nice sign about the coming puppy. I am pouring over the photos of the litter, deciphering the markings to see who is who. I am likely driving the breeders nuts with my curiosity but I am enjoying the puppies so much. The red patches will darken as the puppies grow and apparently the freckles appear later, like a dalmatian’s spots. While there is no telling the personalities now and I know I need to wait for the selection and evaluation process, I find myself drawn to a particular pup who I will keep in my sights as the entire litter grows. It’s perfectly silly to attach anything to one at this point….and yet . . .

But out of this pile of spots, I will certainly find the one that’s perfect, even though it will clearly be an arduous chore. hahahaha.

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It’s not just Puppy Week though, I had a great riding lesson on Saturday and look, I can ride a circle!! I can ride a circle!!!

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That was, however, after a long extended argument with Dol, who had decided she could totally ignore my leg and hands and cut her corners short and counterbend in the process. It was not pretty. So, we worked on that A LOT and I was pretty well worn out by the end of the lesson but we had come to a begrudging d├ętente in which she conceded to my demands and I rewarded her concessions with a cookie, as I wobbled around on noodle-y legs!! I felt like I’d been in weight training for the hour!

And I was really ready for a carriage ride-along! Blessing did very well and seems quite fine in windy weather–several weekends in a row now have been blustery and she remains unbothered, though her beautiful mane is mussed!

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Rainy Sunday

amywink April 15th, 2012

While the cold front passes, I’m waiting for the rains to move off to the east, while hoping they do not spawn “life-threatening weather” we’ve been warned about. If the weather passes, I’ll see Will this afternoon, if not, well, here I sit at the computer looking over photos from yesterday’s Good Day and resting from a strenuous and invigorating riding lesson.

When I wrote down “exercise” on my yearly goals, I was not at all thinking of riding. I was thinking of walking. But riding has turned out to be a very good whole body workout. I can feel my back getting stronger and my core as well. It might not be as invigorating if I was riding Western, but riding dressage certainly demands a lot of work from the entire body. My posture certainly is a great deal better as well–you can’t do the computer slump while riding!

Yesterday my 10th lesson of the year and I added another “bravery” notch to my belt yesterday when I rode Dol back to the barn Alone to fetch a whip from the arena and nothing continued to happen. She did what I said and I didn’t have a crisis of confidence or anything. We rejoined the party at A and jauntily went on the diagonal to M. I’d needed the whip because she’d decided to make me wooooooooooork to get her moving when we started. Pushing a 1500+ pound animal around with your knees and thighs is tough and she’d decided she totally didn’t feel like it. So, off we went to fetch a reminder and I returned to the dressage field with a lovely Andalusian mare, not the antique plow horse I’d originally rode in on. The idea of the whip is all she needs and she gets herself in order. I had a great lesson, riding at a trot most of the time and really getting a great workout. Next time, I’ll strap on my GPS and check out my ridden circles. I think they were definitely easier to do riding but I might not have had such an easy time if I didn’t already know how to do them while driving!

It was an extremely windy day too so we weren’t sure if Blessing would be up to showing off. Just one month hitched is pretty green and the wind always brings dangerous smells and weird sounds. But her steady nature prevailed and she did marvelously well, far better than expected of her. She’s learning to relax into her work and doing very well at it.

Here she is modeling her new driving bridle. She’s also graduated to a french link snaffle from her pacifier bit that stopped her from bunching her tongue up under it.

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I think she looks quite smart with her decorative browband, like a grown up girl. She also acted like a grown-up girl and stood quietly while we waited to hitch. Standing quietly is so important for a driving horse and she’s been a bit of a wiggle worm before now. It’s youth though and I can see the mature mare she’s becoming.

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This time, I got to ride along the entire time and she did wonderfully well–two passengers, the driver and two dogs were on board and while she clearly thought that was sort of a lot, she didn’t at all refuse to work.

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She’s settling in nicely and leaning to bend in her corners and keeping her pace regular. Malen says she likes to go so she won’t need any encouragement for speed. Francine warned me last week that “she’s a mare” and I’d never be able to just make her do stuff, I would have to get her to think it’s her own idea. That should be interesting and I’m looking forward to driving her.

While she works hard to catch up, her brother continues to enjoy his spring pasture and his time off.

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Hes’ quite pretty though, in his dark red dapples and flaxen trimmed mane. I keep dreaming of how fabulous they will look together one day!

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The Do Over: Update

amywink April 9th, 2012

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Wildflowers are in full swing this year, a wonderful sight and evidence of the ended drought in Caldwell County. Will has been having a relaxed spring but we got back to work yesterday with my newest goal: ride. After some recommendations from Francine, I’m moving forward to see what he remembers from his riding days, some 6 years ago now. I had a huge triumph with Saturday’s riding lesson. I rode outside for the first time! And I had a great time! Moving out of the enclosed arena, and the very controlled environment, could have triggered a set back but the experience was a resounding success. I rode the entire dressage field, which I am used to driving, and was able get Dol collected and steered correctly. My obsession with driving straight lines (and yes, circles) paid off and I was able to do a pretty decent straight line as well. Next time, I may strap on that GPS and see what a riding lesson looks like!

Because of Saturday’s triumph and with the recommendations for seeing what Will remembers, I saddled him up on Sunday and lunged him at all 3 gaits to see what might happen. Nothing happened. Whew. He walked well, trotted well, and trotted *very fast* well though I asked him to canter. He eventually oooooomphed into the canter with a little heave (not really a buck) and did reasonably well too. Of course, it was clear that his off time had caught up to him and he was more than a wee bit out of shape. We’ll be doing some lunge work to get him back in shape and improve his topline. After our lunge work, I harnessed him up for a nice short drive too and we enjoyed Easter Sunday together in the spirit of renewal and rebirth.

Blessing continues to impress in her training and looks wonderfully fit and completely gorgeous.

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She’s looking at a miniature horse here and getting ready to show her stuff. Somehow, though, she’s taken on her brother’s forelock and clearly needs a bit of product to get that unruly thing under control!

Of course, in harness, the forelock is not important and she showed her stuff on the dressage field. As usual, every week, she’s more and more confident in her work and looks fantastic.

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She is still concerned about unusual things but her response is relatively calm as she gets a bit taller and looks hard at any concern. Here, she’s noticing a person walking down to the dressage field, still pretty and working but cautious.

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But after checking things out, she got back to work and did her job very well.

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I had another ride along, though no photos because of the jiggling, and can’t wait to get into the driver’s seat for a test drive. It may be a while still, since she’s just 3 weeks into her carriage work. She looks so good, it’s hard to remember she’s only beginning.

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