Monday, April 23, 2012

Not Exactly Prix St George

Posing for peppermints. It's the only way.
I took Cuna for a nice long trot in the hills yesterday morning. He was super by himself, but sort of thought he was a wild racehorse coming up the hills. Manageable, but he wanted me to know that he was capable of going way, way faster. Old man cracks me up. I did let him canter/gallop up the next hill, which was superb.

Interestingly, about half way up the first hill, Cuna just arched his neck and pranced right on up. If he was a normal, bendy horse, I would have said he connected through his topline, went onto the bit, and carried himself. Since this is Cuna, I just say pranced. It was a fun feeling while it lasted.

That brings us to today. I wanted to get him out and just do some nice, forward, long and low type work to make sure he was comfortable and not just standing around getting stiff. Of course, what I think of when I think "long and low" and what Cuna think of are not the same thing.

Shamelessly kypped off google - not me
I think of this: harmonious forward movement, very light contact on the reins as the horse balances over his haunches and takes the contact towards the ground through the rider's soft, following hand. The seat is light and relaxed and the whole picture is one of grace and comfort.

Do not ask me why I envisioned my ride going like this.

Anyways. I spent a good long time walking and trying to move Cuna off my legs. He was ok, but a little quick. In keeping with the general dressage-ish principles I know, I put my leg on and picked up a little contact before asking for a trot.

As per his normal, Cuna stuck his nose straight out in the air and trotted off.

Well, ok. I put a loop in the rein, thinking we would have this nice, powerful, forward stride.

Cuna fell on his forehand and got quicker and quicker, nose still out in the air.

This was obviously going nowhere productive. Also, the old guy clearly feels fine. I ditched the magical dressage picture in my head and focused on riding the horse under me. I noticed that he got quicker and fell towards the gate, the bulged out near the gate, then got behind my leg and slowed as we went away from it. Maybe we can't be magic, but we can have a consistent tempo. I used my posting to regulate his stride, and gave him a kick when he backed off.

Then I picked up a little more contact. We did figure eights in one end of the arena. The individual loops were small enough that I had to really concentrate to keep him straight down center line, then bend(ish) around the circles while staying off my inside leg and on that even tempo.

After a few loops, I noticed that Cuna was staying balanced and connected. Instead of sticking his nose out like a pony, he came on to the bit a little bit and pushed off his hind end. Yes, I had about 60 pounds in my hands, but that's par for the course with us.

It wasn't the magical dressage ride I wanted, but it was the best sustained dressage work I have ever seen out of him.


  1. Sounds like a fabulous Sunday morning! How does it feel to have a horse with some opposite strengths and weaknesses as Izzy? It sounds like you're making good progress in Dressage by just focusing on the basics with Mr. Cuna. =]

  2. All sounds good! :) Hopefully Cuna will eventually learn to be more accepting of the bit, but he is, of course, a marvelous jumper! Sometimes you just can't have it all, can you?

  3. heehee, were we riding the same horse this weekend? Cuna and Bobby: kindred spirits!

  4. Ride the horse you are on that day, but also keep the image of the horse you wish him to be in your mind. It worked. You got some nice dressage work in there with bends and forward. Well done.

  5. Go Cuna - there might be a little dressage pony in him after all!

  6. God... I've had that 'dream ride-real ride' disconnect. This entry cracked me up. <3

  7. Good job ditching the dream and riding the horse you have lol! It's hard to remember to do that sometimes. Keep up the great work and someday you guys will make it there. Even Mr. Cuna. :D


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