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A skilled dressage rider makes riding seem so quiet, beautiful and effortless. Riding is easy but the sport of dressage is actually physically and mentally demanding. It requires focus. The slightest shift of balance, hand or leg movement can affect the quality of the ride. Tension is the enemy and unfortunately I have that in abundance.

Charlie and I moved around the arena at a trot in the early morning sun. I massaged the inside rein, sat into his back and tightened my calves around him. Charlie responded by coming over his back and rounding his neck. I laughed as he switched to passage. Bouncing beneath me like a huge ball as we continued moving in a slow trot.

“Stop showing off!” My instructor shouts from the opposite end of the arena. Her voice is tinged with laughter too.

“I’m not,” I replied. “I just can’t trot!”

“That’s because you’re too tight!”

Blech, those words of wisdom again. I’m too tight. I have admit that passage feels great! But what I really want is a trot. Just a good old fashioned trot. Please!

Oh, there it is! Oops. Back to passage. Laughter bubbles up from within me.

Bounce, bounce, bounce

Okay, let’s focus and attempt to relax. I need to make it around at least once at a trot.

Woot, woot success!

I love school masters! That is when I’m not busy hating them for exposing every fault in my position and aids.

Riding a dressage school master is like flying first class. Once you have a taste you’ll never want to return to coach. Of course I don’t even own a horse so, dressage diva in the making that I am, I’ll take anything I can get.

The warm up rider. Never underestimate the value of a warm up rider. I lucked out that the school master was already out for a lesson just prior to mine. All the other schoolies were being prepped for a show so I got to ride him. This was both good and bad. Good because he’s awesome to ride and warmed up. Bad because it’s been two weeks since I last rode. Can you say rusty? I’m going to ache later.

The gist of things. Away we went to warm up in walk and trot. We then started to trot down the centerline and leg yield out to the rail. I was having trouble containing his left shoulder and I was waiting too long to start the leg yield so our angle was too steep. Funny thing is that my instructor didn’t really mention any of this. I was telling her and the student watching what I was doing wrong.

To change things up we picked up the 20-meter circle at C. Amazing how I didn’t dread them this time. Do you think it has something to do with riding a horse that knows how to bend? I was looking a bit too far around the circle for this particular horse so I wasn’t hitting the touching points. I needed to bring my eyes back to about a quarter of the distance. The schoolie I normally ride needs a half circle.

The finale. As we trotted the circle the school master started to mess with me. All the sudden the tempo changed and although I was still trotting it was much slower and BIG. I sat the HUGE wave up and down with a puzzled expression on my face. Then I broke into giggles, almost fell off, and said “What was that?” My instructor and the other student grinned back and said “Passage!” I’m hooked! I did a little more passage and the horse seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

Watch out Dancing with the Stars! I can dance with horses. Sorta.

Contact Me

leecullen@comcast.net

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