Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In the Arena #14

Dressage is the return of freedom to the horse under the rider.  Herman Koopman

Wow... Val and I had a super pleasant ride this morning. Nothing special in terms of what we did, but more about how we did it. Nice, calm, free movement... willing turns and transitions, reaching and stretching down and a happy playful attitude the whole time. Such a pleasure.

I believe there are a couple of reasons why our ride went well:

We tried out the new girth I ordered this week. I read about the Le Tixerant Dressage Girth in a blog I follow (Thank you Grey Horse Matters!). After researching further, I thought this girth might help with some of the issues I've been having with Val, which I hoped were physical rather than behavioral. I have definitely had trouble with saddle placement, both deciding where to place it, and keeping it there. On the rides where Val has been a bit resistant, even offering to buck occasionally, when we untacked after riding, the sweat marks showed the saddle had slipped forward, probably impeding his shoulder movement / pinching his withers. When I would tighten the girth up enough to keep the saddle in place, it was likely too tight.

The Le Tixerant girth is designed not to pinch or constrict breathing and movement, as well as to keep the saddle in place - front to back and side to side. Val was extra sweet and affectionate after we rode... I swear he was letting me know how good he felt. We heartily recommend this girth :)

Aside from the new equipment, I had an epiphany about how we train. From now on I resolve not to have any agenda for our sessions... not to be goal oriented. I will go with the flow - staying in the moment - so that my decisions are appropriate for both Val and for me. It's all about the process. I knew these things intellectually but have failed to put them into practice on a consistent basis. Having my horse enjoy himself so much today really helped this lesson sink in.

Enjoy the holiday and thank you to everyone who serves or has served our country in the military.


  1. I'm glad that you liked the girth. It seems to help with our horses especially (no withers, broad backed Dusty and Blue). I'm never really comfortable recommending something just in case someone spends the money and then doesn't like it. So I sort of try and keep to how it worked for us. As for the thinline pad you asked about, the truth is I don't remember what kind of pads we use but I'll get back to you on that after I check out our pads in the barn.

    I like your new philosophy of riding in the moment and going with the flow. That's pretty much what I try to do as I'm teaching Dusty how to be umm, all that she can be at the moment.

  2. I took a chance with the girth as it is not cheap, hoping that I could keep it clean when I tried it out to be able to return. No worries - it's just what we needed.

    I'm very comforted to hear that other horsemen feel fine taking the patient compromising approach to training. I know I can tend to be too soft sometimes, but arguing will get you nowhere fast. And I'm finding if you can modify your perceptions / expectations then every ride is successful :)


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