"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


We did it! Charles came to the barn with me on Monday, and filmed most of our 30-min workout in separate clips. I did a lot of the stuff I've been talking about here so you guys can actually SEE it. Of course, Lily had had Sunday off, and was UP, and somewhat distracted with the horses playing in the field outside and the comings and goings of the outdoor arena. So our figures are not as perfect as they have been, and she is slightly above the bit because she really wanted to ZOOM, but MAN her leg yields!!! Sorry-there is a lot of video with leg yields after I realized we were doing them so well! (We have mirrors in the indoor, but they are small and set in the far corners, so you can only see yourself from the front as you're coming down the rail.) It has taken us 8 months to own them like that-due to poor instruction, Lily had come to HATE them at the trot (see March in 2012 in Review). Now we look like a real dressage pair when we do them. :D My greatest pride in that is that I taught both of us how to do them like that, single-handedly.

But first, I want you guys to be able to also see how far we have come!

Our first (and only so far) show, back in October 2011. Dressage Intro Level C, riding in a snaffle with NO contact:

These were taken May 2012, after the clinic in Stuart, FL with Manuel Trigo. We had just started using the Spanish bit. I was having a really hard time with the double reins (they are flopping against her neck half the time), but she was pushing off from behind correctly maybe 75% of the time, and looking more like a First Level horse thanks to the low port on the bit. Thanks to that bit, she is also doing a lot of head tossing (why I never posted these videos on here before-I wanted to fix the issue before showing her off), and you can appreciate how pissed off she is about lateral work-she is constantly wringing her tail! Also, her body-she was just started to beef up muscle-wise. We had just started this more advanced stuff-collecting at the trot and canter (this was her at her most organized at the time at the canter, without getting flat and fast) and springing forward into a more medium trot when asked down the long sides of the arena. She was irritated with all of it because it was HARD for her! For this series of videos back in May I had her do a much more intense workout because I wanted to see what we looked like when doing all of the little exercises we'd been practicing. In our regular sessions, I was only asking for one or two of these and mixing it up with regular w/t/c work.

Fast forward to the videos below. This is a typical workout for us. Sometimes we do less, sometimes we do more. She is usually a lot more on the bit. I forgot to do the trot-halt-back-up-trot exercise-I wanted to see that one on video! But I had something else planned for us for later and I didn't want to wear her out. She was in the soft rubber pelham, and like I said above, she was responsive but fairly distracted-she usually focuses a lot better than this, and she usually looks a lot prettier, too-nose a lot more vertical. The open arena door behind Charles faces the big field, where all of the horses were clustered at the gate, and you can also see the outdoor arena from there-there were a couple of riders out there too. Lily kept looking that way, and at Charles himself where he was sitting on a stool with the camera. Judy had mentioned this a long time ago-from the ground you can't tell when Lily is nervous/zoomy. Actually, you can't tell when I'm nervous either, as you'll see in the videos in the next post. But you can certainly feel Lily's tension when she's "up"-you get the sensation that she's going to fly away from underneath you at any second, hence my old nickname for her "Lilybird". Judy never realized that this was a frequent sensation during my first lessons with her, until she actually got on Lily herself and got thrown. She was astounded by how cool and collected we look, even when we're both feeding off of each other's nerves. It was enough to make her change the entire way she had been teaching us.

I wasn't nervous in these videos in the indoor. Lily was distracted, but listening. If you pay attention, you can see a couple of times where she seems to try to get fast both at trot and canter, and suddenly slows down. Sometimes she swishes her tail or tosses her head in protest-this is because I've half-halted her to bring her back. I was doing a LOT of half halts with my seat in these videos.

As an aside, I can't get over how much I LOVE my Alta Escuela saddle-I've never had suck a kick-ass dressage seat or leg before. I always had a tendency to sit in more of a chair seat. You can see it in the videos from May 2012. What a difference a saddle can make!

More videos (and photos!) to follow!

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