Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Excellent Ride

Yesterday, the wind was blowing so hard that I was pretty sure any attempt at riding outside would result in me literally being blown off my horse. That, or I would act as a massive sail, and Izzy and I would be blown over together. Either way, not a pretty picture. Since I was feeling super brave, I decided to nix riding in favor of a lunging day.

Until I saw how Izzy was going. She may only be 7 years old, but most of the time, she acts like she's 27. Calm, cool, unconcerned. After a brief attempt at lunging in which I could barely even get her to canter, I decided that maybe I could risk riding after all. I mean, we were indoors. What could go wrong?

Despite a long, easy walk to warm up, Izzy was rather stiff and definitely not forward. One of our goals for this month is to be able to do w/t/c transitions with no whip. Riiight. I could barely get them with the stinking whip. We fumbled our way through a basic workout. Nothing was really "good", but she wasn't bad, either. As we walked around to cool out, I let her have the reins to stretch. Her walk improved a little bit and I grumbled in my head about how I probably needed to just spend months getting her stretching down to the bit, since she wasn't wanting to take any contact again today.

She tried to stretch her nose all the way to the ground and fall on the forehand. I pushed her forward with my leg (and tapped with my whip) and kept the reins a little shorter so she could stretch into the contact.

Immediately, she came up.

Hum... I remember doing this in a dressage clinic last summer. We spent the next 5-10 minutes just stretching at the walk. She got more relaxed (in a good way) and engaged as we went along. Then I thought, "I wonder if we could do a decent trot transition now..." We tried one. It wasn't good, so we tried again. Much better. We did lots of walk/trot transitions going both directions. I focused on keeping the stretch down while asking for the transition.

Then I thought, "Well, might as well try some canter transitions." She was definitely more comfortable to the left, but we got some decent ones to the right. Then we did canter figure eights with simple changes through the trot. Guess what? I sat the trot. Reasonably well, even.

I'd say that was one of my best rides ever. It wasn't that Izzy was super amazing and I had some sort of glow afterwards; it was that we had a definite problem and I found a solution to which she responded remarkably well.

Two notes:
1) Exactly as I finished and dismounted, an annoying boarder lady showed up to ride. Do I have perfect timing or what?
2) Next time we do a dressage ride, we're going to start long and low and stretching for a long time. Let's see if we can't make the whole ride better.


  1. That stretching down work can be so good for both the horse's mind and body. That does sound like an amazing ride!

  2. Perfect timing for the win!

    I love, love, love good constructive rides like that. To me one of the best feelings involved in riding is coming up against a problem, thinking about it, then testing your solution and finding that it works. So satisfying.

    Izzy sounds like she's acting like a grown-up pony :) You'll be out on the eventing course in no time!

  3. Nice! P and I have started working about 75% of our ride in a "stretched" frame, and its reaaaallly helped her work into the bit and seek contact. Sometimes she wants to dump on her forehand, but when she doesn't, it's brilliant for helping to unlock her back!

  4. Correct stretching is always good for the horse.

    You did a good job coping with and working through a not so perfect situation. Well done.

  5. I will agree with above comments! taking a breather to stretch "unlocks" all the tenseness in a horse and really gets them to relax.
    NICE :)
    Yay for excellent timing btw


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