A winter of no lessons

It’s been six months since my last lesson. At this point, I’m almost embarrassed to have a lesson. I know I’ve developed bad habits, and I’m doing weird contortions body wise while riding. I’m not entirely sure what is going on with that, but it’s definitely not helping things.

However, on the plus side, not having lessons for so long really makes you dependent on yourself to “self-regulate”. I have a mental checklist of body position issues I run through whenever a ride starts to fall apart. Most times just running through it is enough to fix whatever was going wrong.

The one problem I’m having is I still can’t get Ava consistently relaxed every ride. Some rides are fantastic. You can feel every muscle in her body loosen and stretch and flow. Other days it’s like riding a steel band. I spent several months this winter working on the forward, down, out idea (focus on getting her to round over her back). It’s helped, but it taught me that she always squeezes out the right shoulder. Always. If she won’t relax and round her whole body then it’s the right shoulder. An issue with turning.. right shoulder. Etc. I’m more aware of how she uses it to make the work easier on herself. Sometimes I can catch it right away and the whole ride goes wonderfully. Other days, I can’t figure out how to fix it, everything that worked before no longer works, and I spend the entire ride just trying to get four steps of real straightness before we quit for the day. In Ava’s defense… it’s probably my seat causing issues on those days.

Ava and Beau

Ava and Beau


Anyway, it’s still too cold here. There’s still too much snow. There’s this vague thought in the back of my head that show season is right around the corner, but it seems so impossible when everything is still hidden in snow and ice.

Winter Doldrums

My bird bath is gone. Somewhere, in the vast expanse of snow, is a blue ceramic, 2 foot high bird bath. The snow is so deep that when I’m standing in my yard, I am higher off the ground than my bird bath stands. I could walk over it and never even notice.

This winter has got to end at some point!

Due to the weather and extremely cold temps (it was -5 this morning with wind chill of -20), my riding has been rather sporadic. I try to ride several times a week (Thank goodness for indoor arenas!), but some weeks have been too cold to do anything other than walk with some short trot work.

Basically all I’ve done since November is work long, round, low with a focus on relaxation. I figured it can’t hurt her as long as I don’t put her behind the vertical, and I was hoping it might help her learn how to relax.

Part of me thinks it’s really helping. The rest of me thinks I’m full of… uh, it.

The nice part is I can now get the big, bouncy trot with big forward movement pretty much whenever I want now. And for quite a long time. Last year we could only do it for a few strides during an entire ride, now we’re doing long stretches of it.

The bad part is I can’t sit it. It launches me out of the saddle like a high tension spring. Boing!

I look like a newb trying to learn how to post.

You know, people always say you should buy a horse you can ride. But they forget to mention that the more training you put on a dressage horse the bigger the movement gets. So remember… that horse you can’t sit the trot on now will get a bigger trot later. Yay!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Haha

Last note… I cut my thumb today at the barn. My hand was frozen and I didn’t notice until I saw blood on Ava. Then I freaked out trying to find where she hurt herself… only to be relieved it wasn’t her.

I hate winter. This white stuff can go away any day now.

Here’s a bad pic of Ava. 🙂