In which dressage lessons (aka "couples therapy") continue

Flower is inexplicably lame* which means two things:
1.  Patty can't ride in lessons with us right now
2.  Patty is available to take pictures and video!

Probably an abscess.  What a pain in the tail!

*Flower will probably survive, given the video (below)

For the rest of us enrolled in lessons, a.k.a. "couples therapy," this means that there is a photographic and video record of our successes and failings.

Patty isn't shy with my camera--she shot more than 200 images and 7 videos at the lesson yesterday!

The camera is set on "rapid fire," so we often end up with batches of 5 to 10 photos taken in quick succession.  That's how the numbers add up so fast.  In this case, "many" is "good" because it means I can hunt through each series to find a good, representative image for the group.

Our friend Sally joined the Suspects for the lesson, and that is good.  One more friend to cheer for.  We like cheering for our friends.

Most of the victories are minor, of course.  But there's the big bugaboo lurking over my head, as explained in a recent post:  
my canter work sucks.

I've identified four problems with cantering that I need to address for success:

1.  I don't practice riding the canter very often, and so I don't have very good skills.
2.  Fiddle doesn't canter much at liberty.  We have observed that when she canters in the pasture, the gait is usually preceded by, and often interspersed with, bucking.
3.  Fiddle is not very balanced at the canter under saddle, and her transition to canter usually involves bucking.
4.  When she bucks, it hurts me.  Even though she doesn't buck very strongly and she isn't sincerely trying to unseat me, the concussion slams the muscles around my repaired hip, and it jolts my organic semi-busted hip.  And if I think I'm going to get hurt, I tense up and do all kinds of unhelpful things, which makes her transitions even more dreadful.


The first problem to address is me.  At the recent lesson, I asked to practice cantering...on Hana!

I'm not afraid to canter on Hana, so she can help me overcome my lack of skill.

I will also practice on other horses, but since I know Hana so well, she is perfect for beginning to get me past the first mental stumbling blocks!

The next step will be getting Fiddle stronger at the canter--first in a round pen at liberty, then on a longe line, and finally on a longe with a rider.  Stay tuned for that.

There is one place where we can canter (err, gallop) together without too much fear:

The buck-to-canter transition is less of a problem on trails, too.

So we'll be practicing that some, too.

Stay tuned!


  1. Looking good! It sounds like you have a good plan for Fiddle.
    I was wondering if she acted out quite so much on the trail... Have you ever tried doing a 3pt. position at canter? It would be less jarring to the hips I would think, as your knee and ankle would take up more of the shock absorption.

  2. I still wanna see Dory ride Fiddle at a canter: )


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