Monday, December 31, 2012

Adios 2012!

One last post this year... just for old time's sake...   New Year's Resolution:  START BLOGGING AGAIN!

I have been a terrible blogger as of late, but (prior misrepresentations and broken promises notwithstanding), I am resolving to start writing again in 2013.  Life has been getting in my way again, but I have a few blog post fragments that I've drafted in my absence that I'll finish up and share with you at some point next year, including:
  • Jeff Cook Clinic Recap (Tucker was brilliant, and Jeff was inspiring as always),
  • Hurricane Sandy Success Story (I swear, something good did come out of the horrendous storm that ravaged my home state and almost destroyed my childhood home),
  • Bernie Traurig Clinic Recap (a.k.a., that time I traded mounts with one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse), and 
  • The Tale of Goldilocks and the 300 Dressage Saddles (still a work in progress). 
For now, let me catch you up on what we've been doing.  We are still learning dressage, and I love it (go ahead DQ's, tell me you told me so, tell me how much fun your sport is and what all I've been missing, I get it now).  Tucker loves it too.  In fact, Cindy's been riding him once a week and he's picking it up way faster than I am. 

Dressed up like a dressage horse!

I always suspected he's smarter than me, and this basically proves it.  These days, when I ask for something, he won't do it if I don't ask right.  While he used to just humor me and "kind of" give me a shoulder-in, even if I didn't ask perfectly, now I get: "um... that's not how you're supposed to do it."  This results in conversations such as the following:

Hmph. Teacher's pet.

Learning dressage reminds me of when I was learning Italian in college.  I had ten years of French under my belt, and when I would struggle for a word, I'd fall back on the French word, with an Italian accent.  Which was sometimes close, but almost never right.  That's what it feels like learning dressage.  I've been riding my whole life, and I feel like I should know how to ask for something, but it's all just a little different these days and while I have a pretty decent background, it still feels pretty foreign sometimes. 

There are some awesome "Ah ha!" moments though, and I live for them.  The first time I felt his haunches actually get lower behind my saddle (who knew this thing came with hydraulics?), or the other day when I got him to engage at the walk and squealed out, "OooOOh!  He just got bouncy!" -- those are pretty awesome.  They usually come in between me grunting and sweating and cursing under my breath (which by the way is a really bad idea when you're wearing an ear piece with a mic -- "I heard that").  Just when I feel like I'm really getting somewhere and I put in a really good workout, Cindy tells me that was just the warm-up.  I'm beginning to understand why other disciplines call us Hunter Princesses.

Speaking of Hunter Princess, we haven't ventured too far to the darkside just yet.  While I am shopping for dressage saddles (more on that later), we still consider ourselves hunters.  I went for a jumping lesson with Alicia last week and we both agreed that the dressage is really, really helping Tucker (and me).  Turning to the jumps was just like steering a car.  No bulge in the corners, no drift in the lines, no haunches slipping to the outside as we turn up the diagonal.  Best of all, Tucker is -- for the first time in his life -- opening up his canter in the lines and staying balanced and level.  No more falling on his nose and getting strung out when I ask him to move up.  This is coming partly from me learning to use my core, and partly from Tucker learning self-carriage. 

Very proud of himself after his jump school.
So we're using dressage as a training method to get the horse and rider stronger and straighter... I feel like we are really onto something here!  Oh wait, that method's been around for thousands of years now, hasn't it?  Well no use reinventing the wheel....