In between setting up for our last one-day horse trials (complete with Hallowe’en themed XC fences! be still my beating heart) and going to Oregon for a family wedding, I have in fact managed to ride my horse a few times. It’s been magical! Or something like it.
After some nice easy rides and a few days off post JM clinic, I put Murray back to work and tried to achieve some of the straightness and power that I’d felt during my coached ride. Murray responded by being insanely wiggly, evasive, and generally noncompliant. We couldn’t seem to stay straight to save our lives, and at the canter his drifting haunches were so out of control that when I pushed them back into alignment Murray happily responded by changing leads behind. The most terrifying part was that our ending circle of stretchy trot was filled with that terrifying out-of-control feeling you get when you’re running downhill and gravity starts to overtake your ability to move your own limbs.
I promptly called my trainer and asked for a lesson on the weekend. I felt a bit better after talking to two more friends and finding out that their horses still had epic clinic hangovers even five days later. And I saw a fourth horse from the clinic throw a hilarious and epic temper tantrum during a saddle fitting appointment.
Knowing that these exercises make Murray pretty sore I’ve been careful to spend lots of time walking before and after my rides, and giving Murray easy days in between the work days. So far it’s worked out, and I haven’t felt the madly-evasive noodle tactics of that first ride immediately after the clinic.
The harder thing is knowing if I’m feeling what I think I’m feeling or what I should be feeling. I think we’re going straight, and I feel like Murray is slowing down his front end and taking more weight with his hind end… but is he really? I could be fooling myself into thinking that’s happening when it’s not. It definitely feels better, but a lot of things feel better than trying to coordinate four or five separate body parts at the same time.
The other challenge is that Murray has been waaaaaay more forward lately than he was during that lesson. Really, energy during dressage is pretty uncommon for me, so I’m also not sure what to do with that when it shows up. And a certain lazy SOB likes to use half halts as an excuse to just go back to an easier gait. So I have to keep all kinds of energy going there.
So many questions. Good thing I have lots of time for lessons now!