Dressage Soldier

If this is your first time on the blog, welcome! If not, Thank you for coming back for the second week!

The theme of discipline was brought up during my Thursday morning lesson, except it was in the context of telling me I lack it. It was even said, in undertones, I am a barbarian. I believe the phrase was “It is my job to take barbarians and make them into dressage soldiers.” No one else was in the ring so using the process of elimination, it was down to me and the WP.

In the defense of my superior, at one point during this week I managed to have two lunge lines on the same surcingle (which I didn’t realize until Paul pointed it out), forget my gloves multiple times, and also tried to convince him to rescue a miniature pony to teach it airs above the ground.  The first two won’t happen again, but I will give you weekly updates on the third item.

After my gloves were put on, the lesson of this week began. I will forever be working on my seat, but it was said that my upper body looked pretty good, while my legs are still not quite there. In compensating for being told my lower leg needed to be pushed back before, it was too far back this week. Figures.

However, there were two new concepts taught that I want to touch on. First, the idea of the space between your hands and seat being a pillow. This pillow should directly emulate your horse. If you want your horse to compress, compress the imaginary pillow. If you want them to extend, loosen the hold on your pillow. This visual helped me to think of the space between my core and my hands as something important; it is not simply dead space. It also helped to think of shrinking my horse down, or to think about how what I am doing in my body will affect my horse. I cannot expect my horse to move freely if I am death squeezing the pillow equivalent.

This pillow also helps to formulate the whole picture of the horse for me. My seat (ribs to knees), hands and legs are one in order for the horse to be through and connected. Charles Harris, a Spanish Riding School student, said “only correct application and coordination of all the aids can bring about perfection.” It is impossible to only use hands; you would go nowhere. You can not only use legs either; you could go anywhere and never stop. You must be connected in order for your horse to be the same.

Second, we started to work on the daylight between the saddle and my seat in the canter. I wish it were as easy for me to think “sit deeper” to stay in one place, but, alas, this is dressage. Paul told me instead to imagine pulling the hindquarters of the horse forward every canter stride with your hips. (He also said that some people better connect with the idea of pushing the horse forward from their whole core.) Elbows should not give and take dramatically, and your upper body should not rock back and forth. I discovered I have a nasty habit of grasping with my calves when riding without stirrups, so that’s another thing to work on.

While I am still set in my barbaric ways, I have only worn white polos and saddle pads for the last week (really only because they put bleach in every load of wash and I would be devastated if my pink pad came out no longer pink.) Paul is doing his best to make me a dressage soldier, and I am doing my best to keep him on his toes.

Until next time-I am off to report for {dressage soldier} duty,

Erin and the WP







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