This winter is really just not cooperating with my riding plans. We did manage to squeeze in a dressage lesson with Barbara last Wednesday morning, just before the latest winter weather event rolled in. Since Cally hadn’t been doing much hard work and was just a bit stiff from not being able to move around much, even out in the field due to footing conditions, I asked if we could just keep it simple and work on some good suppling and bending basics that I can use on a daily basis to keep us on track.
It turns out that can be a lot tougher than it sounds! We’d been warming up on the quarter-line serpentine exercise Kelley had us doing when Barbara came in, and she said she really liked that as an exercise for Cally, so we started by working on that and refining it a bit, with me really concentrating on using my body to straighten her and then gradually change her bend over as we came across the centerline. Then we moved on to another favorite exercise of ours, the spiral. She had us really concentrating on the quality of trot, and really working to keep a good bend and contact into the leg yield step out, going out just two steps at a time, making another circle, then taking the other two steps. Revelation of the lesson: my outside knee controls the horse’s outside shoulder! Is this another of the things, like “inside leg for canter” that they just don’t tell us Hunter folks when we start the switchover to DQ land?
Anyway, we progressed from sprialling in to a 10M circle, to a few steps of lovely leg yield out, to a few steps of lengthening, to a few steps of collecting, and then to a shoulder in down the long side. It’s so much easier to get the correct feeling for that coming out of a really correctly ridden circle; tracking left, we actually eventually got one that felt GOOD. Going right was harder, as it’s her stiffer direction, but we got a few good steps. I was happy to end with that, as the horse felt phenomenal, and I felt like we got some good pieces of information and exercises to build on top of exercises we already know and have working for us. Training scale, indeed!
Then nature proceeded to drop 2′ of snow on the DMV. So Cally got a few days off and I hunkered down at home watching the Olympics. When I did finally venture out into the snowy wasteland again, on Sunday, I found a horse with a freshly bloody hind leg from a cut just below her right hock. After some cleaning off, it looked like she’d just caught herself high-stepping it through the snow. Not too deep, and while probably technically stitchable, not an area that would be likely to hold well, as it moves too much and is too thin, and would really only have taken 2 or 3 anyway. So some betadine and colloidal silver cleaning, and a bit of triple antibiotic for her. I haven’t gotten any calls while I’ve been at work, so I assume her leg is still attached.