Monday, May 6, 2013

The Prequel

It only gets better from here
In order to properly recap our show experience, I have to start with Saturday. We kicked off the day with another dressage lesson from S. She had me hack Cuna around outside the arena on the bit for 10 minutes before we even got started. I did a lot of bending and stretching, trying to get him warmed up for our last lesson before the show.

Cuna was very grumpy when we met S in the middle of the ring. Why? She brought tools for us to use. He does hate tools. First we popped on a set of draw reins. Given Cuna's long, stiff self, he's worn them pretty regularly before I got him. I'd been told they were the key to unlocking his dressage, but I am sub par at handling 4 reins, so I'd never gone there.


That is all I have to say. I kept the draws loose and held contact on the snaffle rein so that the tools only came into play when he attempted to evade.

Because he's worn them before, Cuna pitched a MASSIVE fit for about 10 minutes, then trotted around like a good boy. We picked up the canter. S had me drop my stirrups and turn down the longside (eek! not usually a good idea).

I was completely awed by Cuna's balance and softness as we went around the whole arena. Usually, he flattens, tips forward, and hauls me out of the tack on a canter straightaway. Not so! He was uphill, connected, and comfortable. We kept our work in the draws to a minimum because it's asking him to work very, very hard and he needs time to build up muscle tone, but it was a total lightbulb for me. I didn't know he could feel like that.

Then we dropped the draws and picked up a new tool--a makeshift baucher*. S thought the action would help us communicate better, and she was right again.

Cuna and I finished off the lesson with some ~lovely~ transition from all three gaits.

He was a little peeved about the lesson, more peeved that I turned him out after (HATE ALL TURNOUT), and most peeved about the unfortunate incident with the measuring stick that night. I have to admit, I was not optimistic about our chances at the show.

To be continued...

*The rules for a do-it-youself baucher: take a 3 ring bit with your favorite mouthpiece. Put the cheeks on normally, but attach the reins to the large ring. Not show legal in dressage, but it simulates a baucher's action if you want to try on out.


  1. Haha! I love when you finally outsmart them (if you're me, it takes awhile to figure out how to outsmart them but that's a different story!). Can't wait to hear all about the show!

  2. Sounds like a great lesson. I can't wait to hear about the show!

  3. It's so cool to get those glimpses of brilliance; that's why I'm not anti-training tools, since they let you see how things can and will be :) Can't wait to hear about the show!

  4. Huh, I have never used draw reins on Connor, but I am currently having the same problem of him tipping/pulling me forward in the canter. Maybe I should try that.

  5. It so good to have tools to use. They're only "gadgets" when they are abused in my opinion:) Riley had some major opinions with the neck stretcher yesterday, oh... and his arch nemesis is the measuring stick!

  6. Tools are nice! Although the 3-ring will have a different action than a baucher due to the sliding rings. The baucher does not have any leverage, it simply stabilizes the mouthpiece, while the 3-ring will rotate a bit, even on the big ring, putting on a little poll pressure.

    sounds like a great lesson though!

    1. I've seen the baucher action argued both ways. Until someone rigs up a realistic equine model that moves like my horse and runs it through tests with pressure sensors, I withhold judgement.

      I do agree that the 3 ring isn't a perfect simulation, but it's a lot closer than the eggbutt we were using.

  7. Sounds like it was a real eye opener for you. I don't understand all the hate against tools myself. I think if you use them wisely and don't get dependent on them they can be great for giving or establishing that "aha" moment.

  8. If he's like my former horse, Elvis, he thinks measuring sticks are the root of all evil. Draw reins can be a great tool!

  9. Oh man now I need to know how the show went!!! :)

  10. You've left us hanging!

    Sounds like a really quality, productive lesson.


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