We're having a brief window of warmer weather - from mid 20's to the 40's - so Friday was the time to ride, because it's not expected to last. A coastal storm is on the way. Apologies to those folks who live in the frozen north... I know you all have it much worse.
I stopped in at the barn yesterday for a mid morning ride. It was one of those days when Val challenged my leadership under saddle from the get-go. I caught myself (early) getting frustrated, losing refinement in my aids and generally making things worse. I took a deep breath and focused on correctly aiding, making sure to escalate the aid until I got an answer. Val reacts to stronger aids (dressage whip) by making an audibly shocked gasp - which I interpret as "holy cow - she really means it!". This always makes me laugh, which probably helps as much as anything else.
Once we re-established leadership, the rest of the ride went really well. We got some nice halts off of my seat. Maintaining steady / consistent contact with the outside rein is getting easier, and Val moved out well off of my leg with good energy. I rode without gloves and again the contact felt great. I guess I need to find some different gloves that don't interfere with sensitivity in my fingers... any suggestions would be welcome. We finished the ride with the best on the buckle work we've ever done - steering well in both directions and even some turns on the forehand.
When Val and I have started a ride with this kind of disagreement in the past, I have often let my emotions get the best of me, and struggled just to salvage the ride. I'm really pleased with Val, and myself, that we moved forward and even broke some new ground. Yea team!
Today (Saturday) is our village Christmas parade. Val and I are not riding - the weather won't be fit, I'm sacred of noisy fire engines + kids on tiny motorcycles, and he still needs to break in his Simple boots. Next year Val!
For most of the last seven years my parade mount was Ginger (Virginia Dare), the coolest ever Banker mare, who reintroduced me to riding. She is the reason I'm here blogging, that I'm learning dressage and that I found Val as well as my little farmette. I can't imagine how my life would be if I hadn't met her.
Sadly Ginger passed away this spring as a result of a choking incident, at 34 years old. She participated in every Christmas parade we've had - 15 or so. No matter where she started out in the lineup, Ginger would make her way to the front of the herd before the end of the parade route, passing horses way bigger and way younger. She understood parades, and knew where her rightful place was. We will be missing her terribly today.