Friday, December 24, 2010

Rogo's Christmas Present To Me

Today was a typical ride until almost the end. I was happy to discover that with a few minutes of practice Rogo got over not wanting to leave the rail. Oddly, after making sure we stayed off it, he seemed to want to avoid it on his own. Is he becoming an anticipater? (I don't mind a little anticipating - as long as I keep mixing things up I'm fine). Sometimes he picks things up with only a repetition or two. Unless it involves trotting. Then he isn't too enthusiastic.
I'm learning about the trot though. Some days he needs a long warm up before he'll trot with any quality, and I'm getting so I can tell which kind of day it will be before we even get into the arena. I've been doing the same warm up for months and maybe I should revisit it. Trotting certainly isn't Rogo's strength but I'm hoping that with training - lots of transitions, ground poles, hill work, etc. he'll improve. Of course, my riding needs to be the best it can be as well, so naturally that's an on-going goal.
Then we worked on canter and leg yield, and they are coming along - nothing spectacular, but good trying on his part and I'm starting to get the weight in my left stirrup / on my left seat bone a little more smoothly when needed.
I'd decided to have a final trot, going large to stretch out the muscles after the leg yield and then call it a day. This is when I got my Christmas present from Rogo :) When I put my legs on he cantered and my first instinct was to bring him back to a trot, since that was what I asked for. Then I decided, hell, it's Christmas Eve, he's been good, he likes to canter, just have an easy canter, no lesson work and let him finish on a high note. So we cantered, and then I thought, as taught, "I must totally relax my hips", and because I had no lesson in mind and no one was there to judge if he broke to a trot, I became very relaxed. We just cantered very easily and a couple of times I felt Rogo hesitate and almost trot (he's used to me pushing more with my hips), but I didn't try to correct him, just stayed completely relaxed, whatever he wanted to do was fine (I know, this isn't correct). I had some music playing and without thinking about it I began to keep time to the music with my seat, staying very loose, followed by a light impulse with my reins and Rogo went with the rhythm very easily. I thought circle, and he went onto a circle. I was still completely relaxed and we did a fifteen meter circle, but this was the amazing part - the beat was kind of slow, and Rogo did what I'm sure was a collected canter. As we did the circle it felt like I was sitting on a bouncing ball. He was going vertical with just the smallest steps forward, and it was as light as a feather - I barely had more than the weight of the reins in my hands and I wasn't pushing him at all and he was just springing along like a bunny rabbit :) in perfect rhythm and straight on his circle. I took him off the circle as soon as he completed it because I knew what he did was quite an accomplishment for him. I asked for a trot, threw my arms around him and told him over and over what a good boy he was. I actually got teary, which I've never done before when riding. I know I'm a flake, but it felt magical. I don't have a school master to ride, I've never ridden a horse trained past level one, I don't know what my relaxation and light aids are really supposed to feel like, let alone collection ...
So not only did he give me those magical few moments, he taught me that he does best when I'm light, and that often I don't need to try so hard. I honestly think it may be one of the most important riding lessons I've ever had.
I honestly and genuinely apologize if I sound like I'm bragging about Rogo's canter too much. I see it as completely separate from me. And I'm sure we'll bomb in all our canter work at shows next summer just to teach me to be more careful about what I say. I can never recreate my good moments when there are other people there. I think most people are like that, so it's an equal handicap.
Our weather continues rainy and windy. I'm so used to it I was surprised to read that we're (the Maritimes) being offered federal disaster aid. I'm just happy it isn't snow.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!

15 comments:

Annette said...

Oh, Carol, Rogo gave you a GREAT Christmas gift!!! You aren't bragging at all. This is a wonderful post. I am so happy for both of you!

Rising Rainbow said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

juliette said...

Tears and smiles and soft slow canters - no flake in sight!!! I am so happy for you. You are exceeding in "levels" that aren't mapped out by an organization. You and Rogo are working together into your own territory. He will do anything you ask! What a sweet Christmas present.

Carol said...

Thanks soooo much for the feedback and not laughing at me :) And thanks for the reminder not to get caught up in mapped out levels. I'll loose the magic if I try to box him into a path where he should be.
Thank you.

Barbara said...

They give us these magical moments so that we keep coming back. I'm convinced of it.

TBDancer said...

I think moments like these are part of the magical journey of dressage, what the experts talk about when we newbies are feeling frustrated. I have an OTTB and he warms up way better in canter. After a long slow walk on the buckle, we canter for awhile (doing circles, shallow weaves and then deeper ones on the same canter lead, speeding up, then coming back--all at canter both directions). Afterward, his trot is fantastic. No "sewing machine" trot, but some "hover" in the trot and lots of overtracking.

I think it boils down to this: Sometimes WE get it, and our horses let us know. All the videos and auditing and actual riding lessons with "eyes on the ground" pay off, and voila!

Congratulations and be sure to give that fellow extra treats today (Christmas day).

Jeni said...

And Rogo says "Merry Christmas !!" I think we forget that our horses can naturally do the things we ask when they are running free. No fool for crying not at all! You see this is something us riders must learn.. to be light and listen. Our mounts will teach us if we just listen.

I too appreciate your comments, insight and friendship. Have a great holiday Carol !

allhorsestuff said...

Oh Carol, I too am laughing and tearing at the sound, and almost bouncing light "feel" of what you described to be a visual art piece!
I mean...have you ever looked to the back page of "Dressage today" magazine? They have an article called 'Solutions" and it is beautifully described movements of dressage riding...in a beautiful drawing. One may ususally see something like a rider, in a canter, on a 15 meter circle, below her is the horse and =a large round ball...bouncing her vertically so! You, no doubt had one of the moments they have had featured there, on the pages past!

AWESOME...how could that be flakey, when all you did was simplify your ride to focus upon loose and light...LOOK what you got offered!
Love it~
Merry Christmas form ROGO~ is delightfull- even from here!
KK

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

The best present ever!!

Our horses are always telling us what we need to know... we just need to listen :(

Xtra hugs and kisses to Rogo!

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

That was supposed to be ":)" lol

Story said...

It's that wonderful!

Merry Christmas!

Jan said...

Carol, What a wonderful ride and a wonderful Christmas present from your sweet Rogo!! A joy to read (and you're not bragging, please don't worry). And such a good reminder to all of us readers that sometimes being light, and going with it, and not trying as hard, can free our horse up to do great work! I am so happy for you that you had such a good, and insightful ride with Rogo!
Thank you also for your kind comment on my blog. I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blog and appreciate your many kind comments to me!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Just wanted to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. Glad you and Rogo had a great ride.

Carol said...

I'm blown away by the nice comments. Thanks everyone. I really appreciate them.
All Horse Stuff - I know the pictures you mean. Yes, I can see it! :)

achieve1dream said...

You aren't bragging at all! You're proud of your boy and telling us about it because we care. I think that is soo fantastic! Good job. Merry Christmas!