I got to ride today for the first time in what seems like ages. I picked out two exercises from my “101 Dressage Exercises” book, but didn’t really get to work on either of them because there were other people in the small pasture where I ride. One of the boarders had her 3 kids out there playing around with two of the horses, so I only had a few minutes in the arena by myself. My original goal was to work on 2 things: controlling speed at the trot and halting squarely. I ended up working on halting and bending through the corners.
I wanted to work on speeding up and slowing down, but it was kind of a zoo with three kids out there, so I did slow trot circles around the pasture and practiced halting square. That was kind of boring and so nothing to report. When the mini arena cleared out and I could ride in there alone, Baron was being fussy about trotting on the rail so I slowed to a walk and worked on keeping him straight along the rail instead of drifting to the middle. I also noticed him cutting his corners, so I put a lot of inside leg on him through the corners and he started to bend beautifully around my inside leg. He was curving his whole body through the turns instead of leading with his neck and cheating. Granted, it was just walking, but I was very pleased with the work we did today. I kept him at an even tempo, he lowered his head nicely, and he bent like a real dressage horse!
Then came the second part of our ride where Baron did his impression of a Lipizzan at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. I took him out on the trail with another boarder and her Arab gelding who is an ex-endurance racer. He HAS to be in the front because he thinks trail riding is a race. I don’t know what was going on with Baron, but the horse who 5 minutes ago was walking beautifully and calmly around the arena suddenly turned into a fire-breathing dragon who wanted to RUN. I had to hold him back with every ounce of my upper body strength to keep him at a trot. I absolutely could not slow him to a walk. It wasn’t happening, so I settled for a trot. Since I wouldn’t let him move forward with his energy, he took it UP. He did the most gorgeous trots I’ve ever ridden- big and bouncy with tons of suspension. He arched his neck and curled his nose almost to his chest and lifted his legs higher and higher until I swear we were practically piaffe-ing. I let him canter a little bit but I had him on a tight rein and it was just as beautiful as the trot- neck curled and perfect three beat steps. I would have killed for video of that ride!
By the time we got back to the barn, he was drenched in sweat and I was exhausted. My thighs and biceps were worn out from holding on and holding him back. I un-tacked him, let him out into the pasture and watched him take off like a runaway train, galloping across the pasture to find his buddies.