Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dressaging It

It's been an interesting week full of emotions and I'm not really sure where my brain is right now, but I can't wait to get back in the saddle tomorrow that's for sure. I just spent the last 24 hours without a cell phone and back when I had a "normal" job it would have been fine... But being self-employed and it being the busiest dog-walking day of the week plus a meet and greet I didn't make because of it? Not having it really really sucked. Luckily, I was able to get in repaired for some spare change in the amount of $250... Kill me. It's fixed though, that's what matters.

The BO and I have been having a blast. I think she really enjoys having a galloping buddy, especially when I can get some shots of her jumping some natural jumps on the new trail I found this past fall. It's really good to get out with a horse that can really keep up head to head with Brantley and help him learn to be a better follower versus having the need to be in the lead.

We were discussing the eventing goals we have this year and I mentioned I was the most nervous about stadium jumping... And then this happened.

I knocked the 2'6 vertical so I had the BO drop it down to 2' since this was like our 4th or 5th time going through. Brantley was absolutely super. After I watched the video I said, "Wow, this wasn't that bad." And she laughed and said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but that was the your worst trip." I had technically given B the idea that we were done because I didn't think to have her video anything until she offered so we were a bit sloppy but I'll take it!

... So we're pretty confident galloping alone in the woods over jumps... and apparently over stadium jumps... Guess that leaves dressage right? Right.

How I picture me "Dressaging-it" - for realz

Dressage has always been an interest of mine. I think mainly because of my first introduction to musical freestyle. I remember screaming at a video, "THIS IS A THING?! I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE!" But I never really had the opportunity to take lessons or really dabble in it. Until now.

A couple years ago I made a super awesome friend who I've become really close to and dressage is her thing. She had to take some time off due to being a super awesome baby momma, but recently started riding again with a trainer out near here. I don't even think she waited until her second lesson to text me and say something along the lines of, "OMFG YOU NEED TO RIDE WITH THIS WOMAN!" and went on and on about how wonderful she was. Of course it just wasn't the right time and I wasn't ready but I kept it in the back of my mind.

After keeping up with my friend's lessons and listening to her go on and on about her... I finally said, I need this. So, this past Tuesday, I had my first dressage lesson. I was worried that I wasn't going to prepared for anything she'd ask me to do. We were still learning to relax at the poll and onto the bit with contact and the last few flat lessons I've had, their ways of getting Brantley to relax just made him more chompy and tense. Plus with my current anxiety levels... But S talked me through it and said that it was going to be amazing. I tried to take her word for it.

The face you make when you know you're sexy AF - "Hey ladies. Check me out."
We tested out our dressage riding skills the night before and damn did my boy look sexy. I borrowed the BO's super comfy, blocked AF, custom saddle which was nerve-wracking anyway. Try new things on my horse? Um... no? I just wanted to trot around for shits 'n giggles but I definitely wanted to stick with what we new for our lesson.

Noon came and I was all tacked and ready to go. I thought about getting in a 10 minute ride before she got there but S recommended not to and to show her what we go through. As soon as she walked in she picked up on B's stranger danger. He was curious about her but she pointed out everywhere he was tense. Most people just look at his calm puppy dog face and call it a day. I gave her a little history and we were ready to head out. Of course I was so afraid I'd get stuck on the block, but I didn't and B was okay. We had a nice walk around the arena and we talked about what I've been doing with him and how we're both a little mentally f'd up but we make it work.

She wanted to see how we normally went around and asked me what exercises I do with him. I told her about his tendency to get burnt out and how we do a lot of direction changes or sometimes I let him just cruise around until he gets settled which she liked. We started trotting around a long rein and he felt super. I kept waiting for her to ask me to shorten my reins or ask him to lower his poll when he got above the bit but she didn't. She talked about focusing on moving him forward and not worrying about him getting high above the bit just yet which I really appreciated. I told her about how most horses I've worked with, I try to start them long and low and then collect them up but B always starts out high. She was okay with that.

I went around both ways a few times and he really started to lower his head and she'd have me ask for a slight change by lengthening him. Every time I'd ask he has that "ok" attitude and I'd feel him come up underneath me. We had a nice canter in both directions asking for the same slight changes in his gait while letting him stay long and low. He really appreciated that for sure. She had me do a small circle and spiral out in both directions on one end of the arena and let me call it quits and trot out on the long side. No drilling or asking for more than what Brantley could give and she trusted that I knew my horse.

Then she got to see some of his attitude when she asked us to do some trot/canter transitions in the middle of the arena on a big "circle". Brantley wanted nothing to do with it but I got him going and once I got a good forward trot, I'd cue the canter, then bring him down to the trot after a few nice strides keeping the same speed in both gaits. It was definitely hard for him but instead of focusing on where his face was, I was able to just focus on his body and what I was asking.

I think the best part was when she asked if we could walk out on a loose rein, "on the buckle almost" and I was like, "Oh hell yeah we can." ^.^

It was a nice easy lesson and I felt like a million dollars after. I'm really hoping to be consistent with her. I really enjoyed her and Brantley did too. There was even a point where she came right up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. I was ready for him to shy away like he always does and he didn't even quiver. She stood right beside both of us with one hand up by my back almost and the other on his rein... Nothing. He did absolutely nothing!

Of course, I haven't been able to ride since between getting sick and then the phone thing plus work... But maybe next week if I can scrounge up a little more spare change!


  1. Sounds like a great lesson!! I'm so excited for your eventing adventures this year

  2. Hahah that dressage gif is amazing!

  3. Woohoo!! Glad you had such a wonderful few rides.

    As a sidenote, I just wanted to let you know I have changed my blog name, so it may not show up in your reader list anymore. The new url is www dot twoandahalfhorses dot blogspot dot com. You may have to re-enter it into your reader list to follow again.

  4. I'm glad the lesson went well. I generally just consider dressage the price I have to pay to do the fun galloping and jumping of things.


Brantley & I would love to hear from you!