Last week I got to ride a new-to-me horse, SB, in a dressage lesson. It did not inspire confidence when my trainer came up prior to my ride and said, “I’m interested to see if he behaves.”
The end of the story is that he did, in fact, behave! No shenanigans, even though it was very possibly his first time being ridden in the dressage field. And definitely his first time out there alone.
It was just so nice to be back in the saddle. SB was semi-retired and is potentially coming back to work. He’s a sweet old guy and has some fancy pants in there. He just has to remember how to put them on!
This week, I got to lesson on Duke again. It’s been so long since I’ve ridden him and it felt like home. I called for him when I arrived and he popped his head up with a loud nicker and it just makes my heart so happy.
We got to do some jumping in the field and while I was woefully out of practice (and Duke not in the best shape), it was a blast.
We worked on changing my position a bit, which was challenging. The result was that I felt a lot more secure and my ever-swinging lower leg was actually steady. A miracle. I struggle with this so much. Turns out I’m pushing my ankle down too far and I brace there, which loosens my lower leg. Dang all those years of being told to put my heels down! It feels very odd to think more about putting weight in the ball of my foot rather than my heel, but boy does it make a difference (and makes my calves burn so that must mean I’m changing something!).
True, my eye for distance was off for a lot of the lesson, and my reaction to this was to take a tug and bury him to the distance rather than pressing forward to the base of the jump, it was just so fun to be back out there.
Eventually, I did loosen up and remember that riding backwards to a fence doesn’t make it better. This was after I managed to fit eight strides into a six stride bending line.
To fix this, all I had to do was sing “Uptown Funk” out loud during my whole course. True story.
Trainer B said I need to think about rhythm. Uptown Funk happens to have a great rhythm for jumping and it’s way more fun that chanting, “one, two, buckle my shoe.” So, had you been standing nearby as we went merrily by, you’d have heard me singing, “Up. Town. Funk you up. Uptown funk you up.” Try it sometime. It’s pretty great.
It also worked. We had a lovely smooth course to finish the night.
I love this horse so much.