Actually, I’m not a big fan of metal bands, even German ones, but I did grow up in the ’80s–which along with unfortunate fashion had a lot of unfortunate music. But here we are, a day away from shipping in to the Raleigh Labor of Love Dressage show, and there is a hurricane just off the coast. I hope that Raleigh gets little more than some rain and breezes, which would be welcome, actually.
The work this week has been good–almost TOO good. Bravo has been eerily compliant. I’ve lost the ability to canter in either direction, which is unfortunate since it’s his best gait and features prominently at First level. His trot, however, it really developing (and yes, I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true–it keeps getting better). He had so much swing, hind leg thrust, and suspension today that I couldn’t sit it for more than half-way around the ring.
For those of you following at home, yes I realize this means I can no longer canter or trot.
Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m getting off his face, and he likes it. For the better part of 2 riding weeks now (over the course of almost a month with our down time), I have REFUSED to pull on the reins. I have used the bit for suppling only, tiny motions to vibrate the bit when he locks in the poll or snarks his head, as needed. I also took off my spurs in favor of the squeeze, squeeze, TAP method of really getting him in front of my leg aids. I went back to the basics and made Bravo understand the aids for the halt from the walk with just my seat (with the reins pitched away), and how to turn on a loose rein anywhere in the ring–serpentines, 10 m circles, etc.–with just my legs. I also pulled out the Zuckermeister and have been bribing the bugger with sugar throughout our rides. The reward is shoulder freedom like I’ve never experienced, and probably the reason for Bravo’s better behavior as well.
And then, gawd and my husband forgive me, I tried a new saddle on Wednesday. Yes, my Prestige Academy is less than a year old. No, I still don’t have a job. I LOVE my saddle. It has always fit Bravo superbly, even when he has minor fluctuations in his fitness and weight. It’s a really pretty saddle to look at too, with these interesting nut colored leather “cut outs” in the stirrup keeper and the cantle. But, truth be told, it rubs me the wrong way. Literally. I can manage it with the right combination of underwear, breeches, and Monkey Butt powder, but when I don’t have the right combination–OUCH! Because, as I mentioned last time, I am a fan of all things Catherine Haddad; I took her (online) recommendation and tried out a Stübben Genesis with the Biomex seat. It’s not the same saddle she uses–that crazy ex-pat has little more than a postage stamp between her and her horses–but it’s definitely less “confining” (which has pros and cons) with a flatter, slightly wider seat and itty-bitty thigh blocks. The saddle did feel heavenly on my bottom, but coupled with Bravo’s new TROT I felt like I was struggling a bit. Major purchases are out of the question for a while, but I do want to experience a bit of what’s out there which may be a better match for my anatomy down the road.
But for now, I have to pack for Labor of Love. Don’t forget the rain gear, just in case.