I would have to say that if someone told me 3 years ago that I would actually love Dressage, I probably would have laughed at them. At that time, my only exposure to Dressage had been one woman I had seen ride only in 20 meters circles for 45 minutes two days a week, being yelled at by her instructor. It didn’t look fun, and I just wrote it off as something I personally just wasn’t that into. After all, I like to jump!
Then I took my first lesson with my current trainer on one of her school horses, a little Appaloosa named Neville. (Sorry for the awful photo, it is literally the only one I have of the two of us. Although, there is a video somewhere of him running away with me).
Here’s the thing about Neville: either you ask for something correctly or you pretty much get the exact opposite of what you wanted. Want to slow down my pulling on the reins? He might take off with you. Want to turn left by yanking his head left? He will pop his shoulder and go right everytime. It makes him the perfect school horse for those of us who somehow convinced ourselves that we might know how to ride.
When I got May, the below is what we trotted like when I got her and then after the first month. I see so many problems with this, but the biggest ones are of course being on the forehand, not having my leg on, and not tracking up behind.
In contrast, this was at the end of the season last year, so roughly five months of work. Of course, it’s not a perfect picture, but I think it shows a lot of improvement.
We did a lot of transitions. There were days where we had to do a dozen w/t/w transitions to get her off of her forehand before we could even attempt to do anything else, and it took us about 6 months to get a reliable t/c/t transition. Let’s not talk about how there is still no w/c/w transition, However, there is something so rewarding about Dressage, and the development of your horse. Friday was just one of those days where it all seemed to click. No I didn’t miraculously have a w/c/w transition, and yes, she still tried to fall through my left leg on the downward transitions, but she stayed on the outside rein, put a little jump into her canter, and stayed light and off her forehand for almost the entire ride.
Maybe I finally figured out how to ride her… or maybe she just knew we were going xc schooling on Saturday. More on that next time!