Several Firsts

Well I've had a week of wonderful firsts. I'll start with the subject of my blog, and one of my favorite subjects, Rogo.

1. Rogo - first time forward AND light
This happened in my lesson last Thur., Jan. 3. You may recall I struggled with Rogo from age 4 to 6 to get him forward, before achieving it last winter in my lessons with Sue Fraser. She rightly pointed out we had to get that and contact before we could do anything else. When we did get forward, it often came at the expense of control :), with Rogo sometimes taking off and generaling blowing through my aids. I'd have to use a lot of strength and innumerable half halts to steer him when he was forward.
He lost the forward again in the spring when his shoeing got off and he was off work, followed by the summer heat. We're just getting it back now. Will we keep it through the summer this time? Time will tell.
There was an amazing new development with it last Thur. though - he was sooo forward, but light as a feather. What a wonderful feeling! I've always had to really push him to do his 10 m canter canter circles, but that day he soared around them. I had to fight the urge to grab hold of him to steer, and concentrated on just steering with my seat and legs, with a little bit of rein.What an incredible feeling to have all that energized power springing under you, yet responding to your lightest aid. I was laughing and calling out to Sue how incredible it felt. I couldn't stop going over it in my head for hours, woke up in the night thinking about it and generally felt euphoric for at least a couple of days. I guess this means he's become a grown up? At seven it's time :)

2. First time doing my whole lesson in sitting trot
I did sitting trot with Savanah, but it was much easier with her. She was consistently round and her stride isn't as powerful. I find it so much easier to ride properly, time/ give aids, etc. sitting, but with Rogo it's been a struggle to sit. We do a few minutes at the end of each lesson, but on the forward but light day :) I sat all the trot work except a couple of long side mediums. His shoulder in and travers came more easily, but that was no doubt part of the forward but light phenomena as well.
When I rode the next day we did some good work, but the lightness wasn't what it was the day before. I know it's there now though. He showed me what to work towards.
The issues we need to focus on currently are the left bend and listening to my left leg, and also to keep his shoulder from leaning out on the right rein. We're doing lots of circles and serpentines, and lots of bending. I'm going to return to and keep lots of bending in the walk warm up. It seems to be the right thing for him.

3. First Piaffe
Yes, you read right - piaffe. It happened today, but not with Rogo. I was riding Doug's wonderful draft cross mare Savanah. I lover her SO much. She hadn't been ridden since the fall, with all of the other things we have going on, but I couldn't resist today. There's about 6 inches of snow on the ground and big flakes were floating down through the sunshine. I put her bridle on and off we went for a bareback ride. I love riding her bareback - she's wide and comfortable, and I feel very safe with her. Today she was very happy to be out for a hack - her snorting was so continuous that it sounded like a gigantic cat purring. As we headed for the woods and I realized how excited and energized she was I began to question the wisdom of no saddle :). I trust her though, and tried to come up with some exercises we could do to keep her busy.
It occurred to me that conditions were perfect to ask for piaffe. She passages frequently in the field, so I thought she could do it. I wanted contained energy, so this was a perfect plan :). I've never piaffed, but thought I'd try clucking while holding with my seat and lightly on / off with my hands to match the rhythm I wanted. The first time I asked she did a couple of steps and I was amazed. I asked again and she shook her head - it didn't male sense to her to be asked to go forward but stay in one place, but she tried a couple of steps again. I lavishly praised each try. The third time, a light bulb had come on with her. She knew what I wanted. She tucked her hind quarters, elevated her forehand and swayed from side to side in slow, rhythmical trot steps. Wow! She did eight steps and then I asked for walk. I was so happy and excited! I came home and Mom came out on the steps and said she'd been watching out the window and that Savanah looked like a Lipizzan stallion. Mind you Mom is biased, but not crazy, so I have a witness :) I'm going to see if she'll do it again so I can get some video. 
Doug and I are talking about breeding her and jokingly arguing over which one of us gets her foal. She just upped the ante on that argument :)
Here are a coupld of pictures of her from today, looking decidedly UNlike a Lipizzan stallion:

 I'd like to enter the above in the hairiest chin contest. Can anyone beat it?

My adorably hairy girl. Don't worry Savanah, I don't like shaving my legs in the winter either.

4. First truss up on our arena - here comes Five Fires Equestrian Centre.
 The first truss went up on Jan. 3. I'm pretty excited.

Happy New Year Everyone!


So many exciting first things, you guys have done really well!
Super post Carol!

Really happy for you and Rogo (and a teensy bit jealous)... your hard work and dedication are paying off. :D

Looking forward to video of you and Savannah piaffe-ing. She is so adorable, and needs her hairy chin up there in the frozen north!
Anonymous said…
Lots of great things - wonderful to read such a good post!
juliette said…
Congratulations! What a happy time for you all! Rogo and Savanah. I love her piaffe story. That is exciting!

I would like to try to beat that hairiest chin photo. Might try to see today on my boys.

That first truss is exciting - it is really happening! Wow!
juliette said…
oops...forgot to say that I especially like the freedom of your bareback rides on her. Feeling safe with a soft, round sweetie pie under you bareback is the very best ride in the world in my opinion.
Lori Skoog said…
Boy! Are things looking good for you. Would love to have seen the piaffe...bareback no less. Those trusses will go up quickly, can't wait to see the progress. Yey! Rogo!
Savannah is beautiful.
Congratulations! I am happy you are making such great progress with Rogo and with your arena. 2013 seems to have started off wonderfully for you
It seems your new year is starting off with a bang. Congratulations on all your accomplishments with Rogo. Savannah is a dream and very talented. You must be on a wonderful horsey high right now!

The arena will go up in no time. How exciting. Happy New Year!
I can beat that hairy chin! My mini mare has a full goat beard!

Rogo is growing up! It's such an amazing feeling to take a horse from nothing to a real, trained dressage horse, isn't it? It makes me giddy. Seven is just the right age for Rogo to reach this point. It takes time to build up the strength and training!

Congrat's on the piaffe! And the new arena looks amazing!
Julianne Padillo said…
Dressage is teaching performance horses to be supple, balanced and responsive. The goal of this dressing training is to develop a horse’s flexibility, responsiveness and balance.