Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In the Arena # 119 - We can have high times, if you'll abide...

Change of plans on Friday, just as I was preparing to mount.

Literally. Arena dragged, riding clothes on, Val groomed and tacked up. Who should appear, but a crew of camo outfitted, gun toting teenagers jumping out of a van next door, (picture a circus clown car), itching for a paint ball battle. The guns aren't a problem really, they're rather quiet, but the camo'd up, mask wearing kids crashing through the brush next to our arena... that's more than I can take.

Fallback to ground work. I've got Val moving his hindquarters around and stepping under freely, sort of an in-hand turn on the forehand. Now I'm attempting to get him to move his shoulders around while pivoting on his hindquarters. I've rewarded any lateral motion I get up front, but am unsure how to encourage keeping the back legs still. One step at a time... ;)

Yesterday was absolutely miserable weather-wise. It drizzled non stop, except when it was all out pouring. I spent the day on a major landscaping side job that will help pay for this summer's hay. I got soaked, but it wasn't too bad, and I finished up in time to ride this afternoon, just as the sun came out.

Val was majorly distracted during grooming and tacking up, but we eventually managed to get our minds on our jobs. (and today, we were all about the canter) After warming up, some transitions and big walk, I checked out the go button for trotting. My aids were answered immediately, and occasionally, with a canter depart.

How delightful is that?! I wasn't even planning on working on the canter, but apparently my horse wanted to. Val has a beautiful canter, and I cannot wait until I am able to do him justice in my riding of it.

The other day I paid no attention to whether we had the correct lead or not. Today, I noticed that we got it right all but once. I'm sure that was pure-D luck. My focus was still the depart, and my position, which will without a doubt require me to video myself, as I am so overwhelmed by our new gait I feel like I have no control over my body. I suspect that I need to sit back, or rather, not lean forward.

As a young girl, I studied classical piano, rather rigorously. My teacher entered me in a number of competitions. I was constantly having to memorize long, complicated pieces of music. Lots of pressure. One day, after having recently discovered Scott Joplin, I brought in the sheet music for the Maple Leaf Rag.

"Do you think I could learn this one next?"

"No dear, playing that music is pleasuring yourself at the piano."

This afternoon as I let Val canter around the ring, I felt like I was "pleasuring myself" in the arena.

And I liked it. :)

I'm going to take a picture of us after every ride from now on. 
One day, when I'm old and grey... when I can't haul my ass up into the saddle anymore, 
I will look at these pictures, read these words, and think what a lucky girl I am. :)


  1. You can never have too many pics of your horse, or too many pics of you with your horse and a big grin. This is a great plan.

  2. Love your idea of the pictures! I'm very glad there are no camo-wearing bush-crashers in my part of the woods!

  3. No way would I be riding wit paintball firing camo crashers in the woods!!

    Great job on the cantering. Amazing how things that used to seem so hard can become easier and easier when the time is right.

  4. The paint baller's must be annoying. Glad you did get a ride in and the canter was a pleasure. There's nothing wrong in doing something that makes you happy, now go find a piano and play the Maple Leaf Rag.

  5. Pleasuring ourselves with our horses is the best! Nothing wrong with that. I love the music story.

  6. OMG, the piano teacher comment made me laugh out loud. I had a very strict German piano teacher when I was younger who felt the same way about anything that wasn't classical. She was *liberal* with her use of the ruler under our wrists in order to keep them lifted. Ouch!

  7. *laughing*

    Glad you had an awesome ride!

  8. Wow, what a strict teacher! She basically said playing piano is not for fun! Why do it then?

  9. No way would I take on riding around those kids! That's how I got to be old and gray and still riding!

  10. I totally want to steal your idea of taking a picture every time I'm at the barn...I'm constantly berating myself for not having enough pictures, but it's usually because I feel like I have to have the perfect "photo shoot" atmosphere with lighting, clean horses, etc etc. Most of all, time to do it. Eff it, you're absolutely right-I want to look back on these days with more than just the memories in my head. Also, I like pleasure riding-it's pretty much all we've been doing lately:) It doesn't make for great writing (or maybe even great progress), but it sure is fun!

  11. Rollin' in the bushes down by the least you made the best of it with the ground work. You and Val should have sneaked into the bushes and scared the camo pants right off of them!

    Love your canter stories - Val is the boy! Pie has a beautiful canter too and I am so inspired by your tales of Val. Enjoy!

    Your piano teacher must have really missed the point - of music! What a shame. Glad you got it! Can't wait for a post title from Doin' That Rag - not Joplin, but my all-time favorite G.D. song. Pleasure away, that is what it is about, in my view.

  12. Oh you are a lucky girl all right! having a horse like that! Not so lucky in getting a clown car full of camo wearing paint gun toting teenagers right as you are preparing to go out for a ride! Argh! What rotten luck! Sometimes though, ring work is just what the doctor ordered!

  13. enjoy your blog, just found it. we have a lot in common. i also have an OTTB and we are learning dressage on a rural property.

    regarding teaching turns on the haunches. my trainer had me on the ground with the horses butt in the corner of the fenced arena. helps him keep the back in place while you encourage the front end to move. really helped get the point across. Mo

  14. Val is GORGEOUS! (I've got a grey bias:) Looking forward to following your progress together.

  15. If you don't ride for pleasure...why ride at all? Enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!

  16. I'm literally excited to read that you and Val are cantering! Rogo and I didn't canter for over a year, and this winter we had to go back and fix much about our canter, so I know about taking it slow. Sounds like it's going to come along quickly for you and will make your rides that much more fun.
    And the 'pleasuring yourself' had me laughing. What better thing to do with our horses? :)
    Love the pictures!

  17. How could you NOT photograph that lovely Val!!! :) Great idea! I'm all about pictures too-they say so much without saying a word.

  18. Loved the comment about taking a photo a day!!! I am working on a post...and have linked to you cause of the photo I took(tried) my arms or positioning is on a shorter base!

    Plan b sounded nice. Camo boys may have added a new, unwanted gait, to riding that day indeedy.

    Love to see some video of canter, Val style!
    Glad you now pleasure at piano!

  19. I had a piano teacher who used to whack my knuckles with a pencil if I made a mistake, so I say go, girl - pleasure yourself and your horse! And the photos of you and Val are priceless - great idea to take one after each ride - we love looking at your happy face!


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