If you compete in any sport – be it riding or otherwise, you likely already know the importance of cross training. Its good to work some new muscles, learn some new skills, and just take a mental break from drilling through to your main goal.
Bentley and I are no stranger to this, and particularly through the winter we focus our efforts elsewhere. Fall and spring bring jumping into our repertoire (cuz Bentley thinks its pretty fun… until you look down!) Then the snow starts to fall and the jumps get stowed away somewhere safe so as to save the jumps from the elements. This leaves us with dressage work in our lessons.
I have to say, compared to previous years, this year is going pretty well. Bentley is starting to tolerate going around in circles better than ever. We can almost do a half an hour in the ring before tantrums begin to start. The work itself before the tantrums is getting a lot nicer… to the point where one might see a full dressage test in our future, if Bentley decides that ok at any particular moment.
I would also like to thank my beautiful floor length coat that I use for winter riding. It fans out around the saddle and down to my boots keeps me very warm (perhaps my best winter investment ever!), like a sleeping bag you wear while riding. But I have a theory too that its also improving my dressage… because damn, I look fancy! Look like a Lady, ride like a Lady, the horse will treat you like a Lady (so long as he doesn’t see my hot pink tights underneath and know the truth about me instead). I wear it, and I feel so dressagey… it translates fully!
As a result of all this, his topline is coming along nicely, and we keep thinking, perhaps he has grown again? Perhaps not, but he is definitely filling out and getting stronger.
The downside to this… we have created a monster. Hes now so strong and has all sorts of fancy new party tricks to throw into the mix when he wants to have a tantrum.
I took him out the other day when we had a warm-snap. Spring in February. I got there before the sun set and made quick work to ride in the light: throwing on the hackamore, and even debated whether I really needed the saddle for a walk around the roads. Boy am I glad I did… a raging dragon was beneath me the whole time!
So far, here are a list of moves that the bigger, stronger, fancier Bentley can now manage without request:
- extreme sidepass
- mini rear while shaking head side to side
- 22.2km/hr trot UPHILL
- jumping of invisible objects
- galloping bucks
- piaffe and passage
- lateral vertical work (when ditch is available, one must spook into it)
- downhill run, jump, and wet dog shake at peak of bascule
No, Dressage is not for the faint of heart… you certainly make your bed here.