This past weekend I took Tucker to a Western Dressage clinic to ride with Richard Schouten of Remount Horsemanship. This was something ENTIRELY new to both of us and pushed me WAY outside of my comfort zone.
We’ve all seen the above graphic, but I gotta tell you, nothing about this weekend was feeling magical.
It’s hard to even write up all we learned and did this weekend as I am still processing it and there was just so much information and new things to play with.
Some of the things we learned we were set up pretty well for and really made sense to both of us right away. Things like leg yields, side passes, soft feel and turns on the front or hind end we got pretty quickly and could start working on the refinement.
Other things we learned were a total mystery to us and I was not sure how to ask for it and my horse was totally confused about what the heck I wanted. Things like perfect circles, shoulders in, haunches in, gaits within gaits and moving between free or working gaits was challenging for us and I spent an enormous amount of time fumbling around trying to figure out what the heck we were doing on my very very patient and tolerant horse.
Now let’s talk about contact. I don’t ride with contact. We spend the majority of our time together on the trails and everything is on a loose a rein. In fact if I pick up my reins it is because he has blown off some other aid. This weekend, however, we started picking up the contact and when he offered it, when he truly connected with me in my hands it was HEAVY. So heavy it made me uncomfortable.
Twice during the weekend I felt him shape up, power from the hind and really start to move like a horse that actually knew how to use his body. It was amazing. It was also incredibly brief and really just a glimpse of why people do this elusive thing called Dressage.
At the end of the clinic we all got to ride a true test and as I was exiting the arena at the conclusion of mine, I was not feeling like this was a discipline I could devote a lot of my time and energy to. I learned a lot that I would definitely like to try more of, play around with and work with my riding instructor to develop more BUT to dedicate enough of my riding time to this so that we could be successful in shows is probably not in our future.
I had a moment of pride and conflict at one point when the clinician had to hold my horse so I could go to the truck, when I came back he was messing around with him and really asking for A LOT of flexion from. I commented that was way more flexion than I ever ask for and the instructor said…yeah, you have a lot of really good things going on with this horse, he’s ready for more.
YAY..my horse is ready for more and I’ve done something right. Shit..my horse is ready for more and I’m not sure I am or how to provide it.
When exactly does the magic happen?