Thursday, January 29, 2009


I rode the big guy today. We did about an hour of walk-trot stuff. This time I carried the real dressage whip. I think Daun was right, long ago, when she said some horses just need to know you have the whip - he is definitely more responsive to my leg when he knows I've got a whip to back it up.

Mainly I concentrated on me. Keeping my hands still, following him with my seat, keeping my legs still and giving aids correctly. This shit is hard! Worthwhile, but hard.

My dressage book said to use the whip as an aid for yourself - that if your hands are correct and your legs are correct, the whip will "lie close behind and nearly parallel to the rider's lower leg, resting lightly across the thigh." This seemed like great advice, and it kept part of my brain constantly checking in with my hands.

My legs are, amazingly, improving. They don't flop around like they used to, and my toes point forward most of the time. The bad habit I'm concentrating on right now is giving aids with the inside of my legs, not my calves. I'm getting better at that. And I have a tendency to ask for a trot with a squeeze, properly, and then if I don't get a response I turn my toes out and boot the horse with my heels. Heels are a good attention-getter but I need to work on delivering the same energy with a proper squeeze, I suppose.

I found a new (unapproved) use for the whip, too. There's a long straight flat stretch in the back part of their pasture - I trot Poppy away from his buddies, turn, and walk back. There are two little paths that turn left, eventually circling back toward his buddies, so he tries to dart down them whenever we trot away. I kinda remember I could use the whip for more than a hand-position-checking-device, so I started whapping him in the shoulder when he'd try to veer down the little paths. They weren't even hard whacks, just a "hey I mean it don't do that" reminder, and it worked great.

My elbows at the trot are improving too. Most of the time, anyway :)

After our ride I fed Poppy a half-scoop of his grain. The light was right and I got a good picture of a Happy (Dirty) Percheron. (I know, I'm too lazy to be a real dressage rider - I brushed where the saddle went and left the rest of him muddy.)

Happy Poppy


  1. I rarely groom more than the saddle are for riding. What's the point? Have I mentioned our average annual rainfall recently?

    If I don't have a whip on me I will take my foot out of my stirrup to boot Tonka in the shoulder if he tries to nap out on me. (I have no clue where the word "nap" comes from, but that's always what we called that shoulder-deking maneuver -- I think it might be British.)

  2. Haha, I was thinking about Julian when I mentioned what a lazy groomer I am. In the tongue post he mentioned that he grooms his horses to get them clean and keep them healthy, which is a truly worthwhile goal. However... mine live in a field that's slightly less muddy than yours, and they love to roll, and I am pretty lazy.

    Glad you explained "napping out" - when I first read it, I assumed you were waking Tonka up from a short sleep. Falling asleep while being ridden sounds much more normal for him than going to the effort of evading you!

  3. My horses always seem to have mud caked on their faces...and butts...this time of year :)


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