Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dressage Week

This is a dressage week at the riding barn, which means that we work exclusively on flat work, no jumping. I find dressage week very difficult and until relatively recently, I wasn’t enjoying it nearly as much as the jumping weeks. But, I don’t know. Suddenly I seem to sort of be “getting it”, I think. Last night with Ann was pretty intense. She actually spent an extra half hour with me, working with me after the others from the class were long gone, trying to get me to reach that perfect place where I had Lulu in the right frame. The entire time I felt like I was so close, but just not quite ... there. It was both very productive and very frustrating at the same time. Near the end of the lesson Ann got on Lulu to show me what she had been talking about. It was both humbling and extremely illuminating. Humbling to see how easily Ann got Lulu in frame, on the bit and using her back and hind quarters and very illuminating to see how Lulu really can do it, and do it well, when ridden right. I found it very inspiring to see and it gave me something very concrete to strive for.

So tonight was dressage with Kelly. As I’ve said before, I really am enjoying riding with both Ann and Kelly. Both bring something very valuable to my program. The two styles really compliment each other very well, most times emphasizing the same or very similar things, just sometimes in slightly different ways, or maybe stated a little differently. Working with Kelly the day after Ann really gives me the opportunity to right away work on all the stuff I had gone over with Ann the night before. Tonight I felt like I got a little closer to where I wanted to be, everything I did with Ann from yesterday was still pretty fresh and so I had the opportunity to push it further, I think. I’m still not there yet, but I do feel very excited that I am starting to get it in dribs & drabs. Kelly spent some time with me at various times of the session tonight, with me circling her while she gave a running commentary on what I should be doing each stride. Ann had also done a lot of this with me the night before. It is very individualized and very effective. Anyway, at one point Kelly said, “I’ve never seen Lulu go this well” which is a huge compliment. But I had to answer, “Well, you should see Ann on her.” Seriously. Like I said, it was humbling.

The other thing about dressage is that it’s such hard and constant work. I mean, it ends up being a REAL workout, one where I’m pretty much drenched in sweat and exhausted when it's done, even if it’s only 20 degrees or whatever. And I know a good workout when I feel one, trust me.

So, every week, both in jumping and in dressage I am feeling pretty significant improvement. I know that I can’t expect this kind of progress for forever, but I sure am enjoying and appreciating it while it’s happening. And it sure is making me really enthusiastic and excited for riding too! Life is very good.

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