Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dressage on Fergie

On Wednesday night I had a riding lesson and got to ride "Fergie". Fergie was the very first horse that I rode at ATF so it was interesting to give her a try again after all this time. I remember that first time that I had a lot of trouble getting a decent pace out of her and forget about getting on her on bit or bending. At that stage I was really just trying to remember basic aids and trying to re-establish my own balance on a horse. Shortly after that first lesson I started leasing LuLu and then I bought Ruby, so I didn't ride Fergie again until this week.

There is a guy who is sometimes in my lessons who has ridden Fergie a lot, and I've listened to him complain about her before, so when I saw that I was going to be riding her, I wasn't thrilled. But it turns out she was really quite nice! Getting a good forward pace out of her was a bit of a challenge (she also had been ridden in another lesson that day, so it probably wasn't ideal timing), but I found that if I was aggressive about asking for it, and if I kept after her, that she gave up her resistance and did what I wanted. This is a different approach to how I was told by Pat Spettel to ride Ruby. In Ruby's case, she is confused or dulled by constantly nagging with the leg. With Fergie I think she just has to know that you are not going to give up. I guess that she is so used to lesson kids riding her that she probably does get away with a lot if she resists enough. Once she realized that I was not going away, getting the forward out of her was easier. It wasn't a rocking pace by any means, but it was much better, once I was able to get her going. But it was her lovely, light contact that I really enjoyed. Once we got going, she got nicely round, kept such a light, elastic feel that I was amazed. I found it somewhat eye-opening to ride a horse like this, it really was a bit of an "Aha" moment for me. Kind of like, "aha! So, this is how that is supposed to feel!" LuLu tends to lean and get heavy in the hand and with Ruby, while we have our moments of the right contact and feel, it's not yet very consistent, so it can be a bit of a struggle. It was a great lesson for me to see how little you really need to do, or should be doing, with your hands in order to get this result. I'm hoping that I can remember the feeling and that I can carry it over to other horses (especially Ruby, of course). At one point during the lesson we had been trotting around without a break for a long period and Ann said something like, "you're all probably dying at this point." And then she looked me and said, "Well, I'm sure Debbie is anyway." And I said, "I'm actually really enjoying this. Yes, it's tough, but I'm enjoying it."

After my lesson this guy at the barn (same guy who had the complaints about Fergie) said to me, "My horse is like a different horse now that your's is in South Carolina. He's so much happier." I wasn't really sure quite how to respond to that. Am I now supposed to feel terrible that his horse doesn't like my horse? It's not like a child's play group or something. What was I supposed to say or do about that?

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