Last night Harley and I had our first ride of truly nice work and it was all at the walk. Yes. You heard me. Walk. I know, I know, “dressage is boring as hell” and “what kind of mindless zombie drone enjoys riding in nitpicky patterns AT THE WALK??”.
We had many reasons for staying in the walk including but not limited to: he needs his feet done badly but we are still trying to nail down a new farrier (pun intended); Harley’s tendency is to rush- because it is much easier for a horse to trundle around quickly and not use their body properly; we haven’t had much time together and needed to connect on the basics before we move on to more complex things; and Harley has been a bit hot in the indoor recently and I needed a win, not the spook and bolt roller coaster.
So we worked on some of the same exercises I have been riding with Louie lately. My lessons have been so so great recently and I took a moment to reflect on my way out to see Harley last night. I realized it took a long time to feel this “plugged-in” when I am riding Louie. I resolved to be more patient and not rush my relationship with Harley. I’m not a good enough rider to think that I make whatever horse I sit on go better- BUT I do have some tools and I am gaining more independence using those tools, so with some time and patience, I can help a horse move better on my own!
Harley and I drunken-walked our way to success last night by working a lot of shoulder-in and swapping the bend often to keep him engaged and thinking. In his zest to be a good boy, he tends to interpret all input as “go”. By staying relaxed and asking for a very SLOW walk coupled with switching up the bend on circles and even on the long sides of the arena, I finally felt him stand up straighter and get much lighter. It was a good 20 min of patiently, but firmly insisting that he bend his body whenever I ask for it but under the understanding that I wouldn’t ask for more pace and there would be lots of release so long as he stayed within the corridor. Afterwards, he felt so ready for anything I would want- I know that this is how we will have to warm up every single ride in the near future.
That big, long, body of his and a good sense of self-preservation had me second-guessing my aids. He wasn’t being resistant, just unsure. What I needed to do was trust in my training and be patient. Luckily, I was in a mood to do that last night! It’s not always the case- I’m not this zen all the time. Not by a long-shot.
Maybe it was the new saddle flair!
My friend “K” and I went to Target a few weeks ago and saw those clip-on leather tassels everyone is attaching to their purses and we decided we were going to start a trend- we were going to get something like that and hook those bad boys up to the dee rings on our saddles. Well, instead, she went out and bought me the craziest saddle flair she could find and I wore them all proudly last night.
Now, I am totally down with the mermaid and even the friendship heart that I’m pretty sure says “Best Bitches”… but take a look at the piece de resistance of saddle flair…
What on earth possessed her to get me a cat pouch to attach to my saddle?!?!?!?!?!
Oh wait, yeah…..it was this monstrosity that I made her wear for Christmas.
It all makes sense now. Anyway, Harley and I rocked that collection of random shit so hard last night! Maybe he could sense that she had filled the cat pouch with baby carrots…
I know, you’re jealous. Go ahead, run out and get one- I won’t even make you say you saw it here first!! 😉