Taking the Derp out of Derpsage

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.

 that one time Henry was called “obedient”

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.

still snorts and spooks at unplugged shop vacs, though

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.

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18 thoughts on “Taking the Derp out of Derpsage

  1. ha i remember that one time isabel softened her back and ‘gave me a place to sit.’ and it was like, ‘huh so THIS is what everyone keeps talking about!’ lol…. way to go Henny!

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  2. He’s ten now, remember? That is a magical age, I am telling you. It all started clicking at ten for Clay, too. Big boy pants…check! Also he is clearly feeling fit and pain-free and you can pat yourself on the back for that! Honestly the hardest leap in dressage is from First to Second and you’re crossing over that lovely little hump right now. Everything gets easier after you have those crucial foundational pieces in place, so get ready to reap some serious reward for all your hours of work! There will still be off days, but they’ll be more in the minority.

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  3. Sitting the trot is an ever elusive beast for me and it doesn’t help that I am on the north side of 50 and not very flexible. However, I recently took a lesson on a 3rd level PRE schoolmaster and learned I actually can sit the trot. Now, to just figure out how to switch that PRE mare with my 14.2 Mustang gelding in the middle of the night with no one noticing and I will be golden!

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  4. “I dunno what, exactly, is responsible for the magical progress lately, but I’m not going to question it.” It’s me, I am the reason. So don’t question me.

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          1. Actually I think you’re working super hard to impress me and also so you can skunk me at Feather Creek. Regardless, you’re welcome for your improved dressage.

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  5. Well… If I had to guess what’s causing all this progress, I’d say it’s probably all the hard work you’re putting in.. But also, all of the vet work you did with him probably really helped. Either way, whatever it is, how exciting!

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