Thursday, March 17, 2016

Werkin' on them Dressage Skillz

Fancy prancing. In all the patterns.
Horse dancing is hard. I don't know if that is why I have this disdain for it, because it frustrates me and my pony, and if we had to choose we would much rather jump things. Anything. But, this year is a fresh new year and we need to get better at this. And, you know what, if I feel the right feels during a ride, it isn't too terrible. And that, my friends, is progress.
We likes the progress. And the bend!
Last week, I got the Bacon out for a dressage day. We kept is super simple, and that was the first ride that she relaxed quite a bit. I tried to not pressure her or ask for a lot. Just, a bump bump with my inner calf in hopes of creating some bend. And it worked! I finally realized that I had been just pressing and pressing my calf into her, and after reading one of Emma's posts, where she mentioned legs off unless we want and mean something, I went DING DING DING. A little bump bump, and I could get the ribcage pushed out around my leg and see a corner of eye. Whoa.
Oooo, more bend! Even in the bad direction!
She remained responsive, yet pretty soft and calm, so it was a quick 30 minutes and I patted her and put her away.
We stretches.
Yesterday, we did much of the same. Bump bump here and bump bump there. She isn't perfect yet, of course, but the fact that I am getting any bend and not just shoulder diving and motorcycles around is pretty cool. We also worked on stretching and although that is hard for a giraffe, she is starting to realize it feels pretty good. Especially at the walk. When I would bring her up, she would kind of lose the contact and invert and curl and then come up and then back down. I realized that if I pushed her a little more forward, she more easily found the contact and remained there (for the most part!) Another huh.
I curl under? Yes? No? Damnit. I stretch? I giraffe?
Once we picked up the pace, she started to get a little fiery, but not too bad. I tried to remain giving with my elbows (when I remembered) and to try to keep my legs off (unless bumping) and when she got too strong or fast, I would half halt. My half halts are pretty big right now, mostly because she isn't too sure on what they are because I SUCK AND NEVER USED THEM UNTIL NOW but she is figuring out the concept and responding better and better. I may have to throw multiples in a row at her, but then she would come back and be soft for a few strides and I would be tickled purple. Yes, purple, because it is better than pink.
Madam, I decline your request to go slower. FU and your half halts.
Alright, fine. I take it back.
And cool things happened when I stretched up tall and softened my thighs. Because my horse would have a very nice downward transition, you know, without me bracing on her. I attempted some sitting trot, but I am really not very strong yet and that was very very difficult. I think part of the difficulty is that it feels like Bacon is moving a lot more this year thanks to some joint juice instead of being tenser and taking tiny steps. I am trying to ride it this year, and I am just having a harder time. It may not be a HUGE change in the way she moves, but I can tell you it is doing something.
Me attempting to sit the trot. Yeah.
Smile for the camera!
We ended trying to do some stretchy trot. I tried to ride this as keeping the contact and slowly trying to reel her out and down, and whenever she came back up, I would try to follow that contact up and just try to bring it down again. You want the contact Bacon, and you like it. KEEP IT. FOLLOW IT WHEREVER IT GOES. She stretched the best she has before for me in the trot. It wasn't a great big stretch, but heck, I will take it!
So nice. And look at the paint shelter coming along in the back!
Blurry, a bit fiery, but still cool. AND SHE HAS SOME CURVES!
We are making changes and trying different things this year, and hopefully it will get us somewhere pretty cool. And maybe we will be able to break the 30 barrier for a test, but even if we don't, I like what I am feeling compared to last year. And maybe someday I will get to wear my bedazzled spider stock pin at a show, and everyone will remember just how cool and nice we looked.
Damn, this stretchy stuff is hard mom!
Oh hey, there goes that girl with the spider stock pin. And her cool leggy bay mare. They looked awesome in the dressage court today. I hope I beat them.
I am going to have to sit back to be the winner in the long run, but we are working on it!
That's the dream, folks.


  1. Looking good!! Dressage is such a journey. :-) Glad you and the Bacs are making progress.

    PS that clip job never fails to impress.

    1. You are part of the inspiration to make me ride better in my journey! I want to be cool like you. And I have no idea how I am going to top that clip job this year.

  2. Flatwork is hard. And sometimes boring. But SO GOOD for everyone... and also helps make jumping better.

    1. I know I know, but, ugh, can't I just gallop and do xc every day?

  3. oooooh Bacon's lookin fancy!! sounds like an awesome schooling ride!! sometimes i get kinda demoralized thinking about how i'm still just learning how to use my leg aids, where my torso should be, when to use a half halt (or what that even is)... but i think that'll just always be what dressage is. the horse will just move in cooler and cooler ways as we tweak and refine those pieces!

    1. Yeah, I should rephrase it to "what I think I'm doing is kind of like a half halt". But you are so right!

  4. Wow! Look at how nice you both look. Nice pics!

    1. Thank you! We are trying to keep up with you fine ladies.

  5. But them Dressage Skillz are hardddddd.