Back in the dressage saddle after at least six months away. A Niedersuss with a Thinline cushion, comfortable enough. I shortened the stirrups for my stumpy little legs and reluctantly tightened the flash noseband. Chip is a 15 year old Quarter Horse who used to be a rope horse. He’s been at this barn for about the same amount of time that I’ve been out of the saddle. The 15.2 bay has a sweet eye and a habit of cribbing. He yawned long and deep after I removed the bridle at the end of our lesson. Now, I know. Tension release.
What a stumbling, bumbling trip it is to learn about calming signals and to reach into the depths of understanding where our fellow species dwell. While I was putting on my paddock boots and half chaps beside my car after I arrived this morning, Avery, the Border Collie/Great Pyrenees cross came over to say hello. I’d remembered his name and he was casually hanging out with me. I turned to him and enthusiastically made a move to grab his head between both my hands and give him a good rub. He was mortally offended and I deducted a sizable quantity of points from my trust score card. Mostly I laughed at myself, and gave Avery an apology, and being a highly evolved creature, he forgave me by the time my lesson began.
Chip also proved to be a forgiving soul. My instructor gave me a whip to carry. We had warmed up slowly in the the desert-flanked dressage arena and worked on the walk and my seat. She was mounted on her 21 year old Morgan mare, Pia. She asked if I’d like to try a trot and I said sure. My yeehaw days surface way too quickly and I’m prone to lean forward and throw the reins away instead of maintaining contact. Maybe I was holding too much when I asked for the trot, or maybe he just didn’t want to leave Pia. I urged him and gave a bump with the dressage whip, which likely turned out to be an uncoordinated smack right in his tender flank. Chip crouched and jumped a little. Another apology from me. Maybe I’ll forego the whip and work on my clarity and consistency. He quickly did trot easily for me, and I think I mostly posted on the proper diagonal, not that it matters that much. I thought I could feel it. My instructor talked to me about keeping my elbows by my side and allowing my shoulder blades to drop down my back. My back tends to arch, then my heels go up and my body flops forward. She reminded me to push my heels down while I was up when posting. That helped. Not that I did it consistently. There was a fun moment when she looked at me and said I looked really good and asked how I felt. I felt balanced. I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, but there I was, on his back, not perched, not collapsed, up there and in the groove of togetherness and…then it was gone because I started thinking about it. See how it goes? But I felt it.