So I posted Laura Bechtolsheimer’s Olympic performance in dressage from 2012 because it is incredibly beautiful. Also, because while watching it, I can now identify many of the movements she and her horse are doing and that’s just really freaking awesome. A few years ago, I would’ve just thought this routine was beautiful. Now after having been working on dressage for almost 2 years, I not only think it’s beautiful but I understand and appreciate all the hard work this rider and horse had to put in together.
I sent this video to my trainer who is familiar with the rider. I said to her…goals for me and Alfie. 🤷🏻♀️
No, we aren’t going to the Olympics – unless there is an old horse category where everything is done at a walk – then we are totally there lol. But, my goals for Alfie after watching this incredible amount of talent are to be able to dance with him. And that is totally doable.
I make the long walk up the driveway to Alfie’s paddock. He sees me coming, he pops his head over the fence just enough so that our eyes meet and he walks to the gate. I love that. I love that he knows who I am. I love how he still lets me kiss his nose before I put his halter on. These are the moments I cherish every bit of.
As we walk to the barn I ask him how his week was. I tell him how crazy work was for me this week…he’s always the strong silent type, he never interrupts me when I’m speaking lol, but he does lift his head and tilt it towards my face as if to say, I’m sorry you had a hard week.
While he chows down on his hydro hay, I start the task of brushing the incredible amount of dried mud he’s managed to get himself dirty with. I don’t mind the mud, he’s a horse, he’s gonna get dirty. It makes me happy that he loves to roll in it to get so dirty. His claim to fame with mud – he manages to get it so ground into his mane that the only way to pick it all out is by hand. 😂
I get him tacked up and we enter the arena. There are 2 other horses in there and he’s super excited to see that he’s not the only one who’s going to be tortured with a ride lol. But alas sweet Alfie, they are done with their rides, and are just standing in the middle of the arena – their riders are chit chatting and Alfie does everything in his power to get himself close to them. But my sweet Alfie, not this time, I’m way ahead of you, lol. I keep him focused and away from the other horses and we begin our warmup. During our warmup he decides he’s going to spook at normal sounds of the barn he hears every single day…the filling up of a water bucket, a horse kicking their stall gate…oh Alfie really. All of this just to stand still and hang out with your horsey friends lol. The old Judy would’ve been scared of his very mild spooks, but this new and improved confident Judy, just continued to ride.👍🏻
We worked on our shoulder exercises and get this…we advanced to the next level of exercises without even knowing it!! No more shoulder fore, now we are shouldering in!! And in Alfie’s harder direction, for the first time he didn’t object and actually got some really good fluid movement in on the exercises. There was a lot of foaming at the mouth and chewing – it means he’s thinking.
While we aren’t ready for the Olympics yet, we are learning how to dance with each other. By the end of the lesson, my trainer has me lengthen my reins but separate my hands. I look at her very confused because all this time we’ve been working on keeping my hands pretty close together. She explains that I’m now going to train Alfie….say what??? I’m going to train Alfie?? She says yes. Because I’ve learned proper positioning and proper aids such as how to work the reins, by separating my hands, it will encourage Alfie to come into a more round position and continue looking for the contact of the bit. So I keep my elbows bent and slowly separate my hands. I’m directing the focus so that the power of his walk can come directly from his beautiful butt. And holy cow, it worked. He dropped his head low, still seeking the contact with the bit and he picked up the most beautiful forward walk. I was stunned. Stunned that he moved so beautifully and so properly, but also stunned that I am now able to train him. Sure, this is a small step in training, but wow, I’ve reached that level with him.
Our ride ended and he got the biggest hug from me. Lots of pats, lots of praise. ❤️
When I think back to the beginning of our journey together. I knew NOTHING. My horse experience was small, my horse understanding even smaller. I look at us today. I trust Alfie with my life, and he trusts me with his life. I am confident in ways I never imagined I would be. I couldn’t have wished for a better dancing partner than Alfie. The heavens truly were looking out for both of us when the universe brought us together. ❤️🐴