I came so close to missing out on a breakthrough yesterday! The seemingly nationwide cold snap had settled in Houston on Friday, producing a clammy, teeth-chattering 38-degree day. I was sorely tempted to skip my private, but two things drove me to brave the elements. First, my mother, who lives in Kalispell, Montana, called and reported minus 13-degree highs. Who was I to complain? And second, we had just received our Eventing Junkie Rider’s Sweatshirts – yes, that’s what I’m wearing – what a perfect day to test one out! (It was great, btw)
So I tacked up a rather miffed Buddy (yes, I warmed up his bit for him), did a quick lunge since he had been inside all morning, and hopped on. We started out as usual, working mainly on my balance and leg position — posting, sitting, transitions — and staying forward and straight. I needed lots of leg since I erred on the side of caution and left my spurs in the trunk, but even without spurs I managed to get Bud moving out nicely.
I’m just starting to get the hang of what a horse feels like when they truly round up. It used to freak me out when he lightened up and went onto the bit in an uphill balance, I’d fall forward and lose it in an instant. But after a trying year breaking my forward seat habit, introducing my butt to the saddle and moving shoulders over said butt, I’m finally prepared when I get it. Even if only for a few strides.
And yesterday we got it — for more than a few strides. Not so much in posting trot, but when we moved on to trot/canter transitions… HELL-O, Big Boy! Where has he been hiding this? A touch of leg, a twinge of seat and we were in a rolling canter. A squeeze of outside rein every few steps and a tap of the inside leg… and he stayed there. No flailing, no pumping or banging on my part. Then breathe and tighten the core, and back to trot a few strides, then pop! Back into canter. Over and over, both ways.
It was glorious. I know that for many riders this is the warm-up before they start real work, but I am an old hunter dog learning new dressage tricks. A warmup for others is full-body workout for me.
And to think, I almost missed out! I probably would have spent the day watching Hallmark channel Christmas movies while swapping out laundry.
Glad I saved that for today – after all, it’s only 33-degrees out and overcast. Brrr!