It is foodtime now, yes?
Yesterday Dino and I finally got back to serious work after what seems like a long break. Our favorite flatwork spot was freshly mowed, the intense heat and humidity had subsided a bit, and I suddenly remembered that I had sent in an entry for a dressage show next Tuesday.

So, I thought we should probably get down to business.

It seems the balance of days off vs. easy days vs. work days has been a bit skewed as of late, since while generally compliant, Dino was back to his old trick of sneaking onto his forehand and getting heavy in the bridle. At the walk he was quite good, if a little reluctant to work over his back at times, but in the trot and canter he would hold himself up for a few strides, seeking contact with the bit, and then 'seeking contact' turned into "Mom you can hold up my entire front end, right?"

And he is SO subtle about it and SO nonchalant about shifting all of his weight into my hands that I just accept it! Until he also starts speeding up, which is when I actually notice what he's doing and drop the contact and kick him onto a circle.

I've started thinking of it as my Magic Circle, because it does all the work for me to get Dino off of his forehand and thinking about his own balance. When I send him forward and onto the circle on a floppy rein, he has no choice but to step under himself and sit down because he will lose his balance if he doesn't. It's a bit counter-intuitive for my micro-manager brain, but it works, and it's an easy-to-implement tool. Suddenly he says, "Oh, crap. I'm going to fall over. I should slow down and sit on my butt." And that's that.

Practicing his model face
I worked a lot on small circles, quick changes of direction, and transitions to help Dino find a better longitudinal balance. Whenever I would ride in a straight line down the length of the field he would get really strung out, heavy on his forehand, and very quick and freight train-y, so I quickly abandoned that idea and rode movements that would 'break up' the straight line of his body and prevent him from just plowing along like a runaway bowling ball. I quickly figured out that going straight for any length of time really needed to mean 'riding shoulder-in'.

By the end of the ride we had done some really lovely left-lead canter, some delightful trot work, and gotten some great bits of free walk and stretchy trot. The right-lead canter left a lot to be desired, but did improve a bit by the end. I'm trying not to worry about it too much since we haven't properly flexed our dressage muscles in a while.

Do I feel ready for my dressage tests next week? If Dino goes like he did last night, not particularly. He wasn't BAD, but he wasn't as good as he can be. I definitely fell for his tricks more than a few times, and I need to get my own Dressage Brain back in gear. Also making sure I know the tests would be good.

Completely unrelated to dressage, we are also quite possibly going to have our first experience riding out with the local hunt this weekend! I am VERY excited and I think Dino will be a rockstar foxhunter!


  1. Ooh! Fun that you get to go ride with the hunt club!

  2. I feel your pain with the heavy draggy-ness, my beast tends to turn into a total freight train too. She just gets worse and loses her balance if I drop the contact though, so our solution is to squeeze her up into the bridle. Funny how such a similar situation can have such different solutions for different horses!
    PS- I can't wait to hear about foxhunting because that sounds amazeballs awesome

  3. Ooo foxhunting!! That sounds amazing, I can't wait to read about it! It's totally obnoxious to be minding your own business and then suddenly (but not suddenly) have a million pounds in your hand. Rico was really good at that too. Good luck at the show!

  4. oooh lots of fun stuff coming up! (tho how is it that you always end up with week night horse shows? i didn't even know those were things lol). i love the 'magic circle' idea too


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