Wednesday, May 18, 2016

From the Beginning Again

I'm at a rather unique place for me right now--Courage actually feels prepared for what we want to do at shows this year, which is show first level dressage. I mean, yeah, we'd never actually done a lengthen canter (ever) until we went to the show, but we got a 7 on one of them, so hey.

It isn't the movements that are giving us trouble. It's the whole adding-stress-at-a-show problem. I can fix that (hopefully) by going to more shows and actively schooling it, but there are other things too.

As I mentioned Monday, Courage came home and was all bent out of shape about life.

So I let him be. One of my favorite trainers once commented that when a horse (or human) has had a lot of stress build up, sometimes they just need to run. Much like when you're scared because you see a predator, so you run like hell to get away and then feel fine. Makes sense, right?

And as I said, the obstacles now aren't training. I need to find a way to communicate to Courage and move forward, not mindlessly drill movements that we both know he already knows.
this is my horse on a bad day. suck it.
So we've changed it up. I know dressage is a very demanding sport and I know that if I push Courage, he'll just burn out. Instead we're spending time together and enjoying each other.
We did spa night and a handwalk down the ditchbank. Courage kept his feet on the ground and his brain in his head and we just relaxed (ish) together.

We had a toodling day. We hung out with the farrier, who called him "a very cool horse" and got a gold star in my book. I got all excited about jumping and dragged my short-flapped brown saddle back out to the barn.
look ma no boots!
We didn't actually jump anything, but we did have a nice walk/trot/canter hack in the outdoor while a cool storm rolled in. I didn't push Courage or really ask for much of anything. It was a glorified toodle and we both had a good time.

Even when I went back to dressage tack, I didn't go school a bunch of movements. Instead, we walked.
yes in white polos. have you met me?
We used the magic contact bit and did simple things. Working walk to free walk to working walk. I played with putting different mini-exercises together to really help him step under and reach forward and after we tried each one, he got to free walk more.

And you know what?

It was great. He stayed relaxed. I stayed engaged. By the end of the ride, Courage was giving me an incredible walk and neither of us was upset.
not impressed by shocking lack of sparkles
So I petted his nose and gave him carrots and put him away.

I tend to be a very intense person when it comes to chasing my goals. Courage is a great horse for me because he's constantly challenging me to find new ways to think about problems. He forces me to drop all my baggage at the gate, take a deep breath, and spend the next 90 minutes focused only on one thing.


Things outside of horses are a little crazy right now. I'm learning to let Courage be my zen, and for 90 minutes a day, all is well with the world.


  1. Ah yes that wonderful forced baggage let go. I'm glad that you guys are finding your zen.

  2. I love showing, but it sure does add a lot of variables to the equation that have to be worked on and trained. Yes, I can jump a jump, but can I do it with people talking in the bleachers on one end of the area, the loudspeaker blaring, and a horse lunging in the arena next door?

  3. Toodling is highly under-rated. I love a good toodle myself. I'm glad Courage is providing you an oasis from other life problems.

  4. I love this post. I'm right there with you sister. Horses are awesome at forcing us to chuck our baggage for a couple of hours. Especially when life is crazy.

  5. I have been struggling majorly with our return to arena-less-dom meaning we can't do much srs drsg bsns. Thank you for the reminder that it is OK to keep things low key for a while.

  6. This is so great and a great reminder for me. Too sling is important but sometimes it's easy to forget that once I get to the barn

  7. Glad you guys are having a low-key, fun week hanging out and toodling together. :0)

  8. This is so hard for me right now. I just want to work on all the things and be ready for this or that, but my horse doesn't know we have an upcoming clinic I'd like to be prepared for, and he doesn't care. He just knows that I've asked him to do hard stuff for the past few weeks, and he'd like an easy ride.

  9. The term toodle makes me smile. So glad you are appreciating some undemanding, bonding time with Courage. Everybody needs that, but it seems like Courage may have been asking for it lately more than usual.

  10. I had to chuckle when you said that don't prep lengthen canter. I get it.

  11. Sounds like a great way to decompress after a show!

  12. Sounds like just what the Dr ordered.

  13. I love the place you're in with him. Makes me smile. :)


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