Do you know how hard it is to make a horse go in a perfect circle? Pretty damn hard.
We rode Intro Test A in my mini arena for the second time. It’s basically walk/ trot, do a circle, walk diagonally across the arena, do another circle, trot some more and then stop perfectly square. Sounds easy enough, right? Not so much. We’re pretty rough. Things that sound simple and look simple when performed by well trained horses (like stopping perfectly square, trotting in steady rhythm and walking in a perfectly straight line) are surprisingly difficult when performed by greenies like me and Baron. We have our work cut out for us.
I must say that I am enjoying immensely our little foray into dressage. I always liked yoga and gymnastics because they were about muscle control and core power. Dressage is the equivalent for horses. I am also a teensy little bit of a control freak and a perfectionist. In dressage you don’t just trot, you trot perfectly- with rhythm, impulsion, and perfect posture. You don’t just walk haphazardly around the arena and stop any old way. You walk proudly in a straight line and you stop square, with all four of your horse’s feet firmly planted. It’s about quality.
If you read this blog you know that I don’t have as much time or money as I’d like to spend with a trainer so a lot of what I’ve done with Baron I’ve had to figure out for myself. After riding the test, I asked myself how in the world am I going to get better? What do we work on first? So I looked up the dressage training scale. It’s a pyramid that shows you how to progress in training a horse. Here it is:
Here’s the website I stole this from: http://www.artofriding.com/articles/trainingscale.html
At the bottom of the pyramid is rhythm. There’s my answer. The first thing we have to work on is getting rhythmic gaits. Baron’s default response when he doesn’t understand what I’m asking is to go faster. I’ll put my leg on him to ask him to move a little closer to the rail and he thinks I’m asking him to go faster. At the racetrack the right answer was always “Go faster!” From now on, whenever I ride I’ll be focusing on getting a slow, steady trot, not an “I’m tired, can we walk now?” shuffle, not a hurried “Please, please can I canter?” jiggy dance. Again, way harder than it sounds. 🙂