I realize that I am long overdue for a post about Henry – the poor, neglected star of this blog. We’ve been doing a lot of dressage at home since our January show (probably 75% dressage rides) in an effort to just… be better. I think once I realized we could actually survive Training level, I became more determined to suck less at it.
Our month of dressage bootcamp between the Jan and Feb shows paid off with a score that was 8 points better, which, as it turns out, is a fabulous motivator to keep working. Last week in particular we hit a big milestone when real sitting trot suddenly became possible. All of you dressage folks out there know the saying “the horse has to give you a place to sit” – meaning that in order to have a good sitting trot, the horse’s back has to be relaxed and lifting, not stiff and braced. A lot of horses have that right off the bat, or it comes quite easily to them. Henry is not one of them… he basically lives with every ounce of his tension stored in his back. I can honestly say that until last week, he had never really given me a place to sit, thus our sitting trot work has been minimal.
But Monday I sat a little bit in the haunches-in on a circle, and instead of a tense tight back, I found a soft relaxed one. So I stayed sitting, moved off straight again and then into some shoulder in and leg yield with still no resistance or tightening of the back. I pretty much just halted, jumped off, and shoved Henry full of carrots.
But… was it a fluke?
Tuesday was conditioning day (ERMAGERD GALLOP) but Wednesday it was back to dressage tack for the moment a truth. I warmed up as usual, then started some lateral work, then spiraling in and out, then changing the stride length in trot, then eventually starting spritzing in some sitting work. And honestly? I think it was the best dressage ride he’s ever given me.
Not only did he accept my seat, all of his lateral work improved when I sat and was able to use my seat bones more effectively. I still kept the sitting portions short and always rewarded with stretchy trot afterward, but… I’m pretty thrilled with him at the moment. Dressage has always been such a struggle bus, especially when it comes to tension.
The positive trend has continued. I dunno what, exactly, is responsible for the magical progress lately, but I’m not going to question it. Now we need to get back to dressage lessons (of which we’ve had none since, uh, August). Maybe we’ll finally be able to take some of the derp out of our derpsage???
I said some, not all. I’m not delusional. Let’s remember what horse I own.