Dressage training has taken on a new level the last several weeks with Carter and I learning leaps and bounds. Laura, our trainer, says we’re having breakthroughs. I have to say, I agree with her.
We competed Training Level this past season and are on to training First Level with some early learning of more collected movements, more lateral work, and all around gymnastics work. I still haven’t mustered to courage to actually jump more than a trot pole, but Carter works with Laura on two-foot jumps regularly. I will, before the end of next year, have checked this off my list, as well – even if it’s only an “x”.
What I’ve noticed about Carter is that he is a “sponge” lately with his training. He picks things up so quickly right now. It’s truly phenomenal to experience. To see him working on a half-pass. I get giddy. I mean two-year-old at Christmastime giddy. My horse is a dressage horse. My horse can do things I only dreamed he’d be able to do. It is so cool. So rewarding. So inspiring. He works hard and it shows.
What I’ve noticed about Carter and I together is that we’re clicking. We’re a team. We seem more in tune with one another than we ever have been. He is patient with my slower-than-his learning and the fact that I’m still finding my balance on him (he is still young and likes to be wiggly… a lot). But, we’re clicking. We’re on the same page and on the same team. It’s an awesome feeling. He gets self-carriage more and more and, that, is incredible.
There are still moments of “I need to save your life, Mom!” Like earlier this week when we were working on the classic 20 meter circle shoulder-in half-pass (yes, it’s a mouthful to say it AND ride it). We nailed it, with spurs, to the left. When I switched directions all I can think is that (a) I was tired – we’d already had a full lesson, I mean FULL lesson and (b) my left leg decided that instead of toe in, it wouldn’t position itself any other way than two out, which also means spur in. Remembering all the placements of my appendages for shoulder-in, half-pass, on a circle is hard enough. Anyway, I digress… he kept reading “canter” instead of “trot” which increasingly made us both frustrated and after what seemed an eternity of misreading each other, we were off in one of his saving us run for your life moments… and in a split second I realized not one, but both spurs were in his side telling him FASTER, FASTER, as I picture we were displaying what had to be the best rendition of vertical/horizontal teleport, zig-zag with a mix of Panicked Pirouette, Back that Thang up…and some unique moves all his own. I managed to stay put in the saddle and came to a halt once I realized, LEG off(!), seat IN(!), and sit BACK(!). It didn’t hurt that Laura planted herself in our path. (We went on to finish the whole exercise to the right sans spurs, so we ended on a great note: accomplished!)
What I’ve noticed about me. I am focused on learning. I am loving each ride, each challenge, each breakthrough, and the time I get to spend in and out of the saddle with Carter. I am also sore in places I forgot, or never knew, I could be sore. Shoulders, hips, legs. This dressage experience only looks seamless and easy. I’ve found a renewed vigor for getting myself in the best physical shape I can be so that I can sit his every-growing trot. (Yes, I’ve joined the 24-day challenge, have you? It’s hard work. It isn’t something you can just pick up and think “I’ll ride dressage today”.
Beginning today, we embark on our two-week homework assignments. On it is lateral work. At the walk, at the trot, at the canter. A mixture of snaffle and double-bridle rides. Laura, our trainer, is leaving for her two-week Wellington sabbatical today and I am hoping we will have been able to maintain some semblance of our current training when she returns. We’ll see how it goes (sans spurs for the canter.)
I love this sport. I love my horse. He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.