Today I am beginning a new journey.
Everyday, all of us begin a new journey (isn’t making it through each individual day a journey?!) and within that journey we may have many mini-journeys.
Well, today I am beginning a huge journey: The Blogger Journey.
I am focusing this journey on sharing my prior, current, and future mini-journeys in equestrianism, horsemanship, and dressage.
I am, by no means, a professional. I am an amateur rider and competitor. However, I am excited to share my finds, my light bulb moments, my frustrations, my achievements, etc. with you all and maybe I can help you and you can help me!
I am actually going through a frustrating time in my riding right now. My horse has always ridden a bit stiffer to the left, which is funny to me because he can bend so far in both directions from the ground to get a carrot that he practically touches his tail. But, add me and you get a horse who wants to fall in on his left shoulder and grab the bit and look right while riding around a circle to the left. So, naturally, the problem must be me! I am very much right sided. To combat this problem, I’ve considered forcing myself to write with my left hand, sweep, shovel, and pick manure with my left hand at the top of the handle, and do other things dominantly with my left hand. UGH- but easier said than done! So, I’ve been trying to be hyper-aware of my left hand and arm while riding. I think this is helping a bit.
But, the majority of our problem comes apparent at the canter. Now, this is not so much a me alone issue as it is an Aragorn (my lovely riding partner) problem. He is a friesian/saddlebred cross, a registered Georgian Grande. Think about it- what is a friesian’s best gait? The trot. And a saddlebred’s? The trot. These lovely, flashy horses with their upright necks and fairly straight and upright shoulders tend to canter quite tightly, causing themselves to exert much energy at the canter. So, take the combination of me and my left side problems and combine them with Aragorn’s lack of strength at the canter, we become quite the messy package.
Now let me discuss a previous journey with you all: I have done all of Aragorn’s training myself. I purchased him as a two year old from his breeder and he was very minimally handled. I started him very slowly, spending years on manners and groundwork, alone. He was a huge 16+ hand baby who wanted to buck, rear, bite, play, and have fun all of the time! Needless to say, we’ve had many hiccups in our journey, but now he is one of the best behaved horses on the ground you will come across. Prior to May 2014, I never worked with a trainer with him. I did everything myself. However, in the Spring of 2014, I realized that we had reached a plateau and I had maxed out my toolbox in improving his suppleness, gaits, and submissiveness. I employed the aid of a local trainer (and good friend) to aid us in moving forward in our dressage journey. Since then, we moved from only being comfortable at showing introductory level dressage (mostly because his canter was absolutely out of control) to showing first level! I only work with my trainer once or twice a month, but it has made such a difference- my toolbox is full again!
However, I feel like I am on another plateau (with a slight down slope). This winter has been rough. My barn is only a few hundred feet off of the Intracoastal Waterway, so the 2-5 days a week of rain that we have been having has wrecked havoc on our riding ring. For the months of January and February about 50% of the time there was only about a 20 meter square section that was decent enough to canter safely without slipping and less than 10% of the time was our entire dressage ring rideable at the canter. The remainder of the time I was reduced to riding on the hard dirt road leading past the barn. But, all of these things combined still only allowed me to ride 1-2 days a week. Not a good scenario for trying to show upper first level this spring! My first show was supposed to be next weekend (March 21st), but I am too frustrated with our canter right now. I am going to wait until April to begin showing this year. Aragorn’s fitness level has decreased, and so has mine, this winter. I need the next few weeks to a month to get the both of us back into shape before we are strong enough to compete at First Level tests 2 and 3. Aragorn makes it quite obvious when he is getting tired of working our left side canter.
Canter discussion to be continued….