Weathering the Storm

{This is a post written a few weeks ago that I never hit the publish button on, so here it is a couple of weeks late!}

Life has a funny way of handing you lemons. Sometimes, it squirts lemon juice right in a drink for you. Other times the juice is aimed for your eyes and you have to cry a little then move on to making lemonade. This week, a severe storm moved through Dillsburg and my truck and a tree made friends to make it through the terror. This friendship resulted in a dented hood and shattered windshield.

After surveying the damage, I immediately went to check on Kelso. He came around the corner and knew I needed a laugh; he was safe but had a single branch on his butt as if to say ” Look! Aren’t I funny? Your truck might be crushed but I’m okay and here to make you smile!” He is my best reminder to make something sweet out of even the sourest moments.

Horses are good at teaching us how to weather all the storms. That storm can be as insignificant as not understanding a new dressage movement for a bit, or as shattering as an injury that results in months of stall rest. Through these moments, they put into sharp focus what matters. Kelso has reminded me as long as you have each other and a few cookies along the way, you’re doing pretty good. {I would like to think I have fully understood that things are replaceable and no more trees need to get involved.}

This week, Kelso and I continued to work on our consistent head shape, and I think I am finally starting to ride where he needs me to in order keep a solid frame. Paul will often tell me to “not let him go” because when he became soft in the contact, I would try to give the contact back, but would go too far.  I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered one of the exercises we did in the tack room during my first lesson. A lunge line was placed around my waist and then pulled by Paul; I was assigned with keeping my back solid and resisting the pull with the core. Even when the lunge line was slack, I still had to have an engaged core, which is important to keeping consistent submission. Don’t pull and don’t collapse. If everyone rode with the reins attached to their hips, we would probably have a lot more solid frames and less pulling. Thinking about this reminded me that I need to have passive but definite hands whose strength is derived from my core. This gives Kelso a fair but definite contact from me so he can do the same. By riding in this way, Kelso can stay where he needs to be with his neck which encourages him to work over his back and to gather his power from his haunches. Slowly but surely…

We are also working on making our travers on a circle in the canter sharper and more rhythmic, which translates to our demivoltes so they can become tighter and more collected. I am also pretty excited that we have functional flying changes. If I do a demivolte which brings me to the counter canter, I can use our newfound skill of a flying change of leg to continue to a demivolte on the other side. They are not to the point where I can put them where I want, and we will hopefully be able to start sharpening the aids more to get to this point soon, but I am excited I learned what I needed to in order to set Kelso up appropriately and fairly. I sure am lucky he is so patient and forgiving.

Off to go drink some lemonade,

Erin and the WP





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