On Thursday, after all of my epic dressagery earlier in the week, I had kindof a waste-of-time ride on Murray that put me in a fairly foul mood. I had to stop in the middle of my ride to get something, and Murray ended up sitting around a little longer than I wanted while I sorted it all out. That was only 15 minutes into my ride though, and I really wanted to practice some of the walk-canter transitions from my lesson, or at least get something other than a warm-up done, so despite my better instincts I got back on and kept riding.
To nobody’s surprise, it was unpleasant.
Getting back on was not the better choice, riding-wise, and I go back and forth on whether or not I should have done it at all. There will be times in the little horse’s life when he has to perform after sitting around (you know those pesky things called shows), so there’s something to be said for practicing that. But at the same time, part of me feels like it’s more important to keep Murray feeling good about dressage, and not worth the fights.
Anyway, a friend and I had committed to taking some video of one another during our dressage rides, as we’d both had wonderful lessons on Wednesday, and take video we did. And I’m super, super glad I got back on and took the video. I wasn’t asking Murray for anything challenging — just to stay steady in the contact and give me some sold trot-canter transitions. Nothing surprising there; I ask Murray to give me quality trot-canter transitions during every ride, so his assholery was definitely in protest to something — either five straight days of dressage or the thought that he was done for the day already.
So mostly, this is what I felt like I was riding. Inverted giraffealope is not an urban legend.
But the video evidence suggests that I was actually managed to get a fair bit of this.
We weren’t totally steady in the contact or through, but we definitely had moments. Much better moments than in the past. Compared to our December humble-keeping ride.
To say I’m pleased with the improvement is underestimating it! The photo from December shows pretty much our level best (at the time), and Thursday’s was a bad ride for us, and we still got better moments!
Murray’s deeper in the contact (a huge goal of mine), and his back is more lifted. Even when he’s not totally through, at least he’s tracking up and using his whole body to trot. We used to get this shitty little typewriter trot when Murray would lift his head, with steps about 6″ long and the jerkiness and absurdity that went along with that. A year ago that was basically what I got in errrrey dressage ride.
Our canter work has also improved a ton! Murray’s left canter used to be full inverted giraffealope, even while his right lead was coming along nicely. While he’s not quite as soft and low as I’d like, he is at least using himself here! I recently learned how to trick him into softening by overflexing him through the inside rein, and gently balancing with the outside rein. When I added a more open hip angle and soft dressage legs to the equation, Murray realised that he could, in fact, canter left and accept the contact.
So despite my general disappointment about our ride Thursday, I found a huge silver lining. I’m so glad I have the footage to watch over and over (and ignore the crappy canter departs). Silver linings areeee the best.