Some days I ask myself that question over and over and over and over again. Ike can be light as a feather for a few strides, and then moments later, I feel like I’m running around the arena with a 50-pound bag of feed in my arms. I struggle to maintain my position in the saddle. I squeeze my fingers until they ache. My arm muscles cramp. My abdominal muscles jiggle from the effort. We down transition and halt. Ike then tries to yank the reins from my tired fingers. I don’t let go. He sighs, I sigh, I ask him to soften in my hands and we try it all over again. Am I alone in this struggle or does anyone else feel this way?
Even during my weekly lesson with Ms. C with her giving me almost constant instruction and guidance, getting Ike through and using his back is hard. It isn’t that he is being naughty, he just still doesn’t always understand. We also think that he hasn’t developed the strength or stamina to maintain a rock steady connection. His hulking body, while not as gangly as it was this time last year, is still not fully developed. Ike is starting to “blossom,” but we still have some time before he is done filling out. Heaven help me once he does…more muscle to use against me. I’m not sure I can carry a heavier bag of feed.
For the first half of my lesson no matter what gait we were riding, it felt like I was riding two different horses with me in the middle trying to make them work as a team. Ike’s front end was rolling along at one rhythm and his hind end was dancing to a different tune. That should make the clinic tomorrow a bit interesting. We are attending our first musical freestyle clinic. My local dressage chapter is hosting Michael Matson. He is a well-known clinician in this area known for helping riders with musical freestyles. He helps you determine your beats per minute at each of the gaits and then helps select music to enhance them. Sounds easy enough, but when you have two different rhythms, how do you pick which one to use for the musical selection?? I jest here. I am well aware that you can’t. It should make for an interesting ride. We could very well be the first rider and horse pair to come away from the clinic with no music. “I’m sorry, but you would be better off riding to a baby banging on some pots and pans.” Bet that would elicit some interesting comments from the judges.
Will let you know how tomorrow turns out…would anyone like to take a guess at what music Mr. Matson will select?