After two wretchedly hot days, it “cooled” off enough today to attempt my dressage lesson. Weenie was resting comfortably in his stall when I arrived as was his friend Wussy. Poor Ike was crusty from having sweated profusely the past few days. There were white lines of crust like zebra stripes along his hind end. It was tempting to hose him off even before starting our lesson, but opted for a bucket and rag. I was sweating even before our lesson started, so I knew I’d be rather crusty by the time we were done.
Ms. C had us working on walk-trot and trot-walk transitions. Ike was a bit heavy in my hand today to start, but at the same time, behind my leg (i.e. lazy) with the hind end. The quick transitions woke him up and helped him connect and bring the hind end into sync with the front end. We then refined the exercise so that I’d half halt and aaaallllmost walk, but then quickly squeeze my legs and trot on. Sometimes I’d be a bit loud with my half halt and we’d walk, sometimes I’d be too strong with my “trot on” aids so my up transition was a bit abrupt. Ugh, always rider error. I can’t blame Ike because all he is doing is trying to understand what I am asking. As I become more educated in dressage, I’m learning that not only is the half halt the secret aid of the rider, but that transitions are very important. I’ve spent some time recently watching the Grand Prix rides on the USEF Network (http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2012USEFDressageFestivalofChampions/). So many of the scores are for the transitions, so you’d better do them well if you hope to have a respectable score. Of course, their transitions are from piaffe to passage or extended trot to collected trot, but we all have to start somewhere right?
Before Ike’s tank went empty, we did practice the Training 1 and Training 2 canter transitions and patterns. The bugger was spot on with his canter transitions today and we even produced some roundish circles. We won’t head out to another schooling show until July 29th, so hopefully by then Ike will be ready to try two Training Level tests. And hopefully there will be no scary water trucks or big tractors in use while we attempt our tests. We did not overschool canter and moved on to shoulder in and haunches in. Ah, my favorites. Yes, I know we need this work, but it is HARD making all those body parts stay in place. I was working so hard that I was blinded by the sweat rolling into my eyes. Also found that my dressage whip came in handy to speak to the hind end…I might have long legs, but sometimes they are just not long enough to speak effectively to Ike’s back end. What are we going to do if his body length stretches anymore? Carry a lunge whip? Now that would be a sight to see.
By the time our lesson was over, my face was bright red, my clothes were soaked, Ike was soaked, and there was white lather from the bridle and reins. A vision of loveliness. Took some doing to get Ike hosed down…I let him graze as I hose him and I’m pretty sure he delibrately steps on the hose every time I try hosing certain areas of his body. Stinker.