Dressage – it’s dancing with your horse. Beautiful fluid movements that not only showcase the athleticism of the horse, but the rider.
Dressage saddles are not only comfortable but with padding in certain areas it places your legs where they need to be. When you are first learning any discipline, the length of your stirrups plays a role. Dressage riders tend to ride with longer stirrups than say a person who is jumping. Having ones leg long and extended with only a slight bend in the knee means the rider has to have a strong core seat where both legs can work independent of each other. It takes time to build that strength.
While on my Facebook feed last night, one of the top dressage stables in NY posted a beautiful picture of one of their boarders and her horse. Her body position was stunning – long legs, elbows properly bent and her hands were even, together and low. So I send the picture to my trainer and proudly tell her – I want to look like this, so let’s make it happen. So for today’s lesson – I lengthened my stirrups by 2 holes. Go big or go home is what I always say.
The first thing I notice – my arthritic right hip feels much looser – and my left hip was the one that was a bit tight today. I also notice that my heel position was great, my heels were down but it wasn’t a forced movement, they just sort of went into position naturally.
I give Alfie a squeeze to walk on and he takes a few steps and stops. I squeeze him again and he does the same thing – a few steps and stops. I realized it was because he felt my different position and thought something was wrong. My legs were not where they normally are, my entire balance was different and he wasn’t sure of himself. I gave him a pat on the neck, told him it’s all good and tapped him with my stick of influence. He walked forward and I could feel how his body was moving. He exhaled and realized ok, she knows what she’s doing, she’s strong and balanced, so yeah, I’m good.
Our lesson went very well. Alfie is moving into the contact, he’s rounding his body, he’s carrying himself so beautifully. Today, I felt like an actual dressage rider. Granted my stirrups have a ways to go with more length but today was a huge leap forward for both of us.
After our lesson, it was time for more hydro hay while we waited for our appointment with the farrier to get new shoes.
When people look at Alfie, they are stunned at how old he is. He doesn’t look his age at all, and this last full year of consistent weekly lessons – even the break we had to take because of COVID – his body has transformed into one of strength, balance and health. ❤️🐴