Early last Sunday morning, I dragged myself out of bed. The sun was shining reservedly, hiding the hints of the blisteringly hot day it would later become. My drive to the barn was quiet and contemplative, as I wondered what the morning's lesson would bring.
Guinness greeted me as the first horse at the gate. His eagerness was heartening, especially after our recent arguments under saddle. As I curried a deep shine into his shoulders, I gave thanks that he was still spotless from the night before's bath. He stood quietly, not dancing as before. I fitted his saddle and bridle to him and we headed out into the arena for our dressage lesson.
It was excellent. The whole lesson we focused on tactics to get Guinness to stretch down into the bridle, relax his head and neck and lift his shoulders. We were very effective, and the ride felt incredibly productive, if also incredibly hard.
My instructor pushed me hard, and after the last two weeks, I really needed it. She challenged me to stay soft and seeking in my hands and to work hard on stretching my legs down and around, instead of letting them creep up and driving my heels into my horse. Since I have moved to spurs, this is more important than ever. My riding flaws must get better before I can advance this horse.
Guinness will never be a packer pony, he makes me work for every bit of relaxation and impulsion. I have to thank him for that, as I tend to work harder and care more when riding a horse that really makes me work for everything.
We have a schooling show on Saturday, and I'm nervous. It's a first for so many things. Let's hope I don't forget anything, let my brain stop working or do something incredibly stupid. I think we'll be okay though. Just stay relaxed and let that back swing through. That's all, right?
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