Back to Dressage-ing

Whoo-ee, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. My black eye has faded, and I have since been on a heckuva fun trip that’ll get its own post later this week.

Nothing like returning home from vacation with one week to spare before your first recognized horse trials.

I had a dressage lesson right before my trip. It was frustrating but got better. Rode dressage on Sunday. It was frustrating and got worse. I haven’t really mentioned this, but my left ring finger has been super sore and swollen for the last six weeks. My very scientific internet research indicates it’s likely an A2 pulley strain (aka a tendon strain in my finger). How did this happen, you ask? Stryder’s favorite vice is locking against the left rein. Doesn’t matter which direction we’re going, if it’s the inside or the outside rein. He pulls on it. Really hard. All of the time.

We’re working on fixing it. It’s one of those things that’ll just take a lot of time and building his strength to carry himself without leaning on the left rein. Which is not helpful with a show coming up.

We also have this problem where he likes to trot really fast and on the forehand and blow through half halts, all while making me feel like I am holding up the entire weight of his front end with my hands. Stryder is a draft cross. He has a lot of weight in his front end. I thought we’d fixed the problem before I left for vacation, but it returned with a vengeance on Sunday. I tried the “fake it till you make it” method that had worked pretty well in our pre-vacay lesson, but it was just a hot, hot mess. It does not help ease my frustration when my left hand just hurts worse and becomes less useful throughout the ride.

Stryder: “We shall trot like the wind!”
Me: “Oh no please slow down okay half halt crap whoa”

Ugh. I hate being frustrated. I hate unproductive rides. It’s not his fault. I should’ve probably lowered my expectations for our first ride back post-break.

Dressage sucks. (Does this sentiment make me a true eventer?)

Okay. Enough with the negativity. Positive things about our ride on Sunday: Canter work felt pretty amazing. Very uphill, lots of jump, very rideable. (Why, why, why can’t we get the trot to feel that way?) We free walked and medium walked, almost completely without jigging. Big win!

Dressage ride again tonight. Cue the ominous music. Just kidding! We’re being positive now, remember?

Things I vow to do better for Stryder: Softer hands. Try to push him up into the bridle instead of pulling back. Calmer attitude with less pressure. Resume better warm up routine, to include long walk, and better long-and-low trot time before expecting too much at the trot. Accept that he is a heavy-in-your-hands type of ride.

Tools I will try to use: “Marbling” my inside rein (though this gets really tough with the left rein; see injured hand/reduced mobility); many transitions; remembering to think about uphill-ness in the trot; shallow loop serpentines. Lower expectations.

I would like to be able to run through my test for this weekend once without having a total meltdown. I’m not saying who’s doing the melting down. Could be either of us. Or both. You never know.

I mean, look at this face. He deserves better.

11 thoughts on “Back to Dressage-ing

  1. What a beautiful horse you have, those eyes would melt anyone’s heart! I have a draft cross, a beautiful bay roan. She is a PMU rescue baby that I bought when she was 2 yrs old. She is 13 this year and is my whole world, she melts my heart. I grew up riding hunter/jumpers, thought she’d make a good hunter. But she ended up with a fractured stifle that has healed and she is permanently lame in her right hind. She’s serviceably sound and we trail ride walking all over our local trails, she loves it. 2 yrs ago I adopted my sister’s warmblood. He’s 21 now and I thought it would be fun to learn Western dressage. Those lessons were so hard, dressage is a difficult discipline, I was riding your ride as you described your lesson, so much frustration. Leaning on the forehand, making them engage behind. I had to stop since the warmblood has hock and stifle issues. He’s a retired hunter. I think it’s good to share frustration, we all have been there done that, over and over again. It’s what makes our riding better if we don’t give up. But I do agree with trying to be positive, its difficult sometimes. Don’t our ponies just try their heart out for us? I love your post, your photos – so cute what he says, what you say! It’s so true! Haha! thank you for sharing, and I hope your hand heals quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much of what you’re saying is bringing me back to the days when I rode the best Perch cross mare! She was heavy, she was draggy, she was a freight train, and she was the MOST FUN EVER. Rooting for you guys!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She sounds like a very similar type! Stryder is really a gem but man he’s testing my patience and abilities this week. Fingers crossed (heh. Draft cross. Fingers crossed. No? Okay.) we can pull it all together for the weekend and put together some semblance of a dressage test! Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you about the heavy in the hand stuff. Biasini can be a ton weight and pull like a freight train! I have had to learn not to get involved in the pulling game. Things are much better now but still there are some mega half halts needed to give him a reminder and the most important thing I have learned is to half halt( seriously!) and then GIVE just give! Then he has nothing to pull against. The photos are very nice and he looks so nice with such a handsome head and kind eye.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome. My coach is always reminding me to not accept any pulling, leaning and to give a
        major half halt and then be light. In a couple of strides give a light hh fingers only and that should work. If not halt and repeat.

        Liked by 1 person

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