Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dressage Dilletante Channeles Charlotte

My horse is a mensch. Mensch is a Yiddish word meaning "great guy, a real sweetie, someone you'd want your daughter to marry."

I spent three days in the hospital at the end of August with a shocking bout of colitis. Not something I'd ever dealt with before, but it left me weak and grouchy and barely able to hold my head up or drive for two weeks. My horse was mainly left to his own devices for most of that time. I had my trainer ride him once, but otherwise, he was pretty much hanging out with his buddies, eating hay and farting.

Finally Tuesday, I hopped on and hacked around on a loose rein. He knew something was up because he reverted to his "pony ride walk." This is the walk he does when I put my eight year old non horsey daughter on his back. Plod. Plod. Plod. Each foot goes down deliberately like I'm a glass of water he's trying not to spill. Then we did the pony ride trot. Nose out in front, slow, slow slow. Then I decided to call it a day. Baby steps. I. Was. Exhausted.

This is a horse that had been sitting in a field for two weeks. No shenanigans. Nada. He sensed I was weak and not myself and he took care of me just like that. My previous horses I had in my twenties were so high maintenance. They needed to be ridden every day. Or else they were crazy fire breathing dragons who saw snakes and monsters in every corner of the arena. Spinning and bolting was a regular occurrence.

I credit this temperament to his superior Connemara brain. His sire JEF Sir Lancelot throws sane babies. I also know that it's partially due to the fact that he lives outside 24x7. Horses just weren't designed to live in a stall. More on this in a subsequent post.

Then Wednesday I felt up for a more normal ride. I pulled out the dressage saddle and used the whip because he can get a bit pokey and behind my leg. Just carrying it is usually enough to keep things perky.

Trot felt good if a little wiggly but once we warmed up it was great. Then I decided to see if I could still sit the trot with any consistency. This is something I've really been working on. My son and I have been doing the Couch to 5K which has completely stalled, due in part to a heel injury and my hospitalization. But the basic change in my fitness level that happened when I started running was stunning. I could sit for shorter then longer periods of time.

So, I decided to channel Charlotte Dujardin. You know, she of the gold medals, tacky voice and amazing dressage seat? She sticks to Valegro like somebody crazy glued her to the saddle. I watched part of her freestyle at the recent WEG. Yes only part, because even for me watching dressage on tiny video is about as interesting as Candelpins for Cash. She just sucks that horse's front up with her abs and it works. Abs up, heels down seat bones to hind legs and for a few strides you can feel it all coming together. Or maybe I just looked like a big sack of potatoes bouncing around up there.

We did the same thing today for a bit longer with more canter. I'm still not 100% but feeling so blessed I'm able to ride.

Here we are in July doing our first dressage test ever. 59% Bah.

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