Thursday, October 21, 2010

Definitely Better.

Methinks I have my wonderpony back! We had a dressage lesson with Leslie on Monday night and, despite being in a seriously raging heat, McKinna was awesome.

I mean really. Raging. As in, suddenly desperately attached to a gelding that she's not even turned out with and calling for him when they get separated. As in, squatting and peeing at everything in sight. As in, snuggling up to the fence next to a different gelding and cheerfully letting him bite her crest.


But, despite her apparent wild distraction and inability to hold still, she was a star for the lesson. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to get very good work, since she tends to be very tight and resistant when she's in heat or a few days before - I've always suspected she gets a little sore or something. But nope! She settled right down to work as usual.

These lessons have been so much fun lately. We're slowly but steadily nudging our way into 1st level territory, increasing the connection, asking her to trot in shoulder-fore to strengthen and straighten her, leg yields, fun stuff. Our canter work was *amazing!* I actually said 'woohoo' several times through the lesson. And had several intelligent epiphanies. Sample: "Wow! When she's leaning at the canter, if I ride her from both legs into both reins, she straightens out!"

Regular genius, right here. Yup.

It's a good thing Leslie and I are so perfectly matched. I say stupid things, she says stupid things, sometimes I laugh so hard I run the risk of falling off my horse. Every dressage lesson is kind of like a party with some really good training thrown in.

I tried out a 'new' dressage saddle for the lesson, too. It's 'new' because we've had it for quite some time - I got a screaming deal online, we tried it on her and it appeared to fit her very well, then we sat in it and went "WTF these stirrup bars are WAY too far forward to put you in a decent position" and decided we'd sell it. So I hadn't ridden in it at all, really.

Well, we hadn't got around to selling it yet, so we tried it again and actually rode in it a little. Surprise surprise - the stirrup bar looks super far forward, but it actually doesn't put you in a chair seat. It's an Albion Original Comfort, for the curious. And it appears to work great! Leslie checked out the fit and was really happy with how it works for McKinna - no tightness up front, sits nicely behind, and best of all IT DOESN'T SLIDE FORWARD onto her shoulders while I ride! Hooray.

The saddle also puts me in a pretty good position, ironically. I think my posture was more upright and my hip angle more open, because my hip flexors were feeling awfully stretched-out by the end of the ride - just like when you drop your stirrups and stretch your heel down and do sitting trot and canter for awhile. So, that's good. Once I adjust to the different position it should be good as gold. And Leslie says my leg was stable.

I haven't had a chance to ride since then, as school is kind of kicking my butt and I've been teaching lessons to a couple ladies out at our barn. (Which is really really fun, by the way, and super rewarding to see how they and their horses keep improving every time!) Tonight I'm helping with a Pony Club fundraiser, but I'm thinking about driving out to the barn afterward so I can get a schooling ride in.

So yes. I'm happy to have my happy horse back. She is just so dang much fun to ride, it shouldn't be allowed! There's nothing better than sitting up there and feeling like you and your horse are so much in sync that you could ask for anything and get a happy, willing answer. This is why I love dressage. I'd be bored out of my mind if that's all we ever did, but when you mix it in with the jumping it's so satisfying. I guess that's why I'm an eventer :)


summersmom said...

I would love to come watch a dressage lesson some time. And by the way, I love our lessons too! I am still on cloud 9 since Tuesdays lesson. Can't wait for more!!

Val said...

How exciting! I have an Albion Original Comfort too! My horse has been working in this saddle for almost a year now, and he has never moved and felt better. He had the same problem which you described: saddle sliding forward into his shoulders. The Albion is stable, level, and gives him plenty of room to move. And I have finally found a saddle that is truly comfortable and helps me ride my best. I hope you continue to enjoy your Albion!

manymisadventures said...

You absolutely should watch one! I highly recommend it, we're very entertaining.

Val, I am so happy with this saddle! Leslie commented that it looked like McKinna was moving more freely in her shoulders. I'm very glad we decided to try it again.

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