Monday, September 21, 2015

In Which I Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

So lately we've been trying to find a good turnout group for Tucker because he has worn out his welcome after several relatively happy months with his turnout buddies (this happens when you are a 17hh obnoxious nudge), and I finally pulled the plug when the bites started becoming more frequent and more brutal (although I am totally fine with little nips, even if they are a regular thing, because boys will be boys).  So my (very patient) barn manager has been trying to find him a new group.  First try was a fail, and resulted in a very swollen and painful-to-the-touch kick in the neck.  He quite literally appears to have stuck his nose where it doesn't belong.

So that resulted in a lot of bareback in a halter with a glass of wine rides this week.  Because what else do you do with a horse who says he can barely turn his head?  

The lumpy view from above
(Tucker wasn't sure why his neck wasn't stabilized while we ruled out a spinal injury, and why I didn't order an x-ray, a cat scan, and a full cardio work-up, because he's pretty sure he felt his blood pressure spike when it happened, and you can never be too careful. He's been self-monitoring for signs of more serious injury -- dizziness, poor coordination, tingling, numbness, balance issues, etc.)

Less lumpy.  Still needed wine though.
He was finally back to his old self this weekend, so we had a jump school on Saturday (cause I'm the worst DQ ever) and a brilliant dressage ride on Sunday (cause I really want to be a DQ let's face it). Brace yourselves, I'm about to dork out on you pretty hard.

After reviewing the photos of my last show, I decided to focus solely on my left wrist.  I have a habit of breaking at the wrist, so my wrist is pointed up and my knuckles are down.  (This is another one of those times where my trainer mentioned this in a lesson and I fixed it for about thirty seconds and then got distracted and didn't think of it again, until I saw the photos and realized "OH that's what she's talking about. I need to fix that.")

And here's the thing -- while it takes literally constant vigilance to fix this habit, because I'm not really consciously doing it to begin with -- if I fix only that one thing, it actually changes everything else.  If I straighten my wrist, I have no choice but to bring my elbows to my side if I want to maintain contact on the reins.  And if my elbows are at my sides, I can't really lean forward.  And when there's a straight line from bit to elbow, I don't give Tucker anything to lean on, so he doesn't brace against my left hand and fall out of my right rein.  

It felt like I was unlocking the secrets of the Universe.  When he ducked behind the vertical and tried to avoid the contact, I could lift my hands a little and close my leg and get him to take the contact back, instead of fidgeting with my hands, which never really works.  Every time I felt like I was losing the connection on the right side or he was starting to lean on my hand, or bulge out through his left shoulder, I'd look down to see what my unruly left hand was up to, fix my wrist, and the problem would solve itself.  Amazing!

We had the most beautiful left lead canter work in recent memory.  I didn't break in the wrist, he stayed solidly connected on my right rein, and got nice and round and perfectly straight, no throwing his haunches out or resisting the inside bend.  He did some of his best collection work to date, as well as some great lengthenings where he didn't flatten out but kept that round bouncy feeling when he opened up.  It may not have looked all that impressive, but it felt like heaven.

Who knew something as simple as a little break in your wrist could change all that?  Oh, right, everyone knows that.  That's why all of us try to hard to improve our positions and fix weird little quirks like this.  

So you guys, dressage is hard (like really, really hard, it is so much more than just longer stirrups, boy was I naive, lolz) but rides like this are so satisfying!  I think I might be addicted.  Is there a support group?  Twelve step program?  No?  Just a training scale?  Ok then, I'll just be here trying to get by until my next fix....


  1. Hahaha! I laugh because I've been having the same revelations. Like. Sit up and look up. It puts your seat bones more on the horse, which lets you feel his back end, which keeps you from getting distracted by his front end, which reminds you to drive him forward from behind, which means DUN DUN DUN shorten your reins.


  2. I mean, I think the bareback rides with wine ARE your support group for dressage :)

    1. That would explain the free wine available at my barn, guess we need a lot of support ;)

  3. Dressage epiphanies are the best!

  4. I had a good breakthrough recently on bent elbows, which was that if your elbows aren't bent, something else is wrong, because it's impossible for everything to be perfect except the elbows. Bam.

    I'm so jealous you have a horse you can ride while drinking wine.

  5. Bent, point, heavy elbows are key to prevent wrists acting up. (piano hands being my go-to sin) ;D Hope you get the turn-out situation sorted out.

  6. Bareback with wine sounds glorious. Fingers crossed Tucker finds a group that works out better for him.

  7. lol i love these pics!! and also yea... trying to work on the same things but have yet to unlock any universal mysteries... le sigh

  8. I'm drinking a glass of wine, so I laughed at your descriptions. I'm sure you understand, but I can't explain it, because I'm drinking a glass of wine.

  9. sharing with Sophie today as just learning why all of these seemingly little things work together...Good luck with him finding his group!

  10. It's those little things that make all the difference, because they're the foundations.

  11. I like your while you ride......nice! :-)


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