Sunny, warm, and most especially no bugs. Perfect weather to ride. Breakfast, grooming, tack and we were off. I'd be lying if I said that I was a 100% confident about how the ride would go, but much of what I worked on at my trainer's was organizing our sessions, not getting bogged down, and keeping the momentum going. Happily there was no need to worry :)
We warmed up with some work on the loose rein, then proceeded to transitions, turns and 20m circles. Billie from camera obscura has a wonderful post today exploring the concepts of "on the bit" and "on the aids", where she discusses thinking the transition, thinking your aids, before you act - the result being you can employ the lightest aids possible.
Val and I worked on this idea at our clinic, and again this morning. I "thought" about my turns, allowing only my eyes to go where I wanted us to follow. And voila, a smooth turn with a straight neck and the lightest of aids. Conveniently, this concept also addresses one of my most persistent issues - getting ahead of my horse with my upper body - as well as the ever popular "inside rein-itis", which I am well on the way to conquering.
We moved on the trot. Did I mention that this is the first time I have asked for the trot (at home) in many, many weeks? My last request was met with crow hopping, shoulder lowering and head shaking which I'm certain was mild in the big scheme of things, but still intimidated me. Today's success reinforced that my problems (and they are my problems, not Val's) were due to lack of confidence, persistence and resolve. My request for the trot this morning was met with a lovely transition and a horse who was reaching. Also, I was pleased with the state of my seat... it felt deep and even.
To finish up we did some squares with turns on the forehand at each corner. A funny thing about my horse - I really can't get away with just drilling exercises predictably. For instance, he anticipates our rein changes the moment I switch the whip to the other side. That Val - he keeps me on my toes lol. Extra
While at the clinic I had time for some reading. I highly recommend the book "Dressage Unscrambled" by Bill Woods. It's a collection of short essays that tackle the sometimes way too serious world of dressage riding with an entertaining yet informative point of view. It had me laughing out loud and marking pages for future reference. After that I moved on to Franz Mairinger's "Horses Are Made To Be Horses" which I am still in the midst of. This book is included on Grey Horse Matters' excellent book list, found here. Also a high recommendation. Happy reading :)
Now, back to the missing hoof chunk...
Wednesday was my day to check in with the farrier. Next week makes six weeks, so we're due to see him. Our farrier travels three hours and stays over night to do our horses. I am the organizer of the visits - setting up the appointments and reminding the owners, keeping track etc. It takes a little legwork, and some notice to get everyone on the same page.
When I called I caught him working a horse, so he told me he'd get back to me. Tried him again Friday and still haven't heard back. The following week being Thanksgiving, we'll be on to eight weeks between trims by the time the holiday is over. If I had heard from him while in Virginia, i.e. in a timely manner, I had options for other farriers, which I do not have here at home. Of course this happens when Val has the worst looking feet he's ever had. I'm trying not to be super irritated about the situation.
I did recently order a good hoof rasp. Any advice about how to tide Val's feet over would be greatly appreciated. I am familiar with how to use the tool, just not sure what my goal should be :)