So today I hauled my sorry butt back into the saddle after tending to family matters the past three days. My dear mother-in-law fractured her wrist last week and required surgery; she is an awesome lady who comes to the dressage shows to support Ike and I in our endeavors. She also loves to listen to the crazy barn tales and gracefully allows me to tramp through her house in my dirty riding attire (she has the whitest carpets and I fear that someday I shall cause some non-removable stain). My husband and I have been helping her with daily tasks made difficult by the cast on her dominant hand. She could teach a lot of people how to be a gracious patient.
We also celebrated my husband’s birthday yesterday. He is the unsung hero of my life. He gets all the credit for reintroducing horses to my life; he gave me riding lessons for Christmas 2004 and it was all downhill from there. My Thoroughbred joined the family the following Christmas. Three trailers, countless riding lessons,thousands of dollars, a trip to Florida, and here we are. A two-horse family. None of this would be possible without the support and love from my husband. The poor man has been bitten, dragged and pulled off his feet (thank you Cigar), but god help him, he still drives the truck and takes us to our dressage shows. He patiently waits for our scores and is always the first to congratulate or console me when I see the score. Luckily recent history has been more congratulatory…but I know the day will come again when he will be the shoulder I cry on, but I digress…
We were back in the saddle again today as well as under the close scrutiny of the divine Ms. C. Lesson day! Boy did we need it after three days of rest. Ike and I were lack luster to start. There was no pop, no snap, no va-va-voom. Were we awful? No. Did he run like a banshee for no apparent reason? No. Ike felt lazy. Perhaps I was a bit lazy with my aids. Ms. C fussed at my lack of preparation for circles, “Where was your half halt?? You were too little, too late.” Ugh. Maybe three days off is too much for both of us. We started the lesson with no whip to see how Ike would act. He was a perfect gentleman. Ms. C then handed me the whip to see if there was a difference. There was, but in a good way. Ike perked up and we finally started clicking. We rode elements of our Training Level tests. Most of our errors were mine. I know, big surprise there. Centerlines were solid, but our halts were slightly crooked. Ike was not through and over his back – that lack of connection was evident to Ms. C. I bet no judge is going to miss that issue either.
Ike struggled a bit with his canter transitions. Hmm, perhaps if his rider kept him straighter between the reins with the weight shifted to the correct hind leg we’d struggle less. Ms. C had us down transition and work on moving Ike’s shoulders from side to side starting from the halt. Ah, by doing so we also shifted the weight to the inside hind. Light bulb moment for the rider!! That better allows the outside hind to take that first step of the canter…The lightbulb might be on, but that doesn’t mean that I will be successful shifting Ike’s mass as we cruise along at the trot.
Our only big bobble today came at the end of our lesson. We were on one of our final canter circles when I felt Ike’s right shoulder slam into my thigh. We kept our wits about us and pressed on at the canter. What the ___?! Why did that happen? It was then I heard Ms. C telling me that it was a butterfly on the summer phlox. A what? A swallowtail butterfly caused unmitigated panic in a 1200 pound horse? Please let the show grounds be butterfly-free on Saturday.
Great ride times for Saturday – 9:01 and 10:12. Keep fingers and hooves crossed that we bring our A game!