Nautica has officially entered his third month of dressage training! We have thrown an insane amount of new concepts at him and so far he is taking everything in stride. Our biggest challenge has been getting him to engage his hind end and take larger, more forward steps. We’re finding out that a strong hind end is essential for doing literally anything dressage-related, so it has been our number one priority.
During our progress, Nautica has undergone some major changes:
- A big jump down from our full bridle (saddle-seat) to a dressage legal, copper lozenge loose ring snaffle. Taking away my leverage bit has made me realize that I am extremely weak in my upper body and Nautica is also
a major jerk who takes advantage of meuneducated to any form of true, correct bit contact.
- Learning to accept and yield to leg pressure rather than speeding up, leaning or falling in. ‘Forward’ may be ‘first’ but bend comes before all else. Nautica is about as flexible as a chunk of rebar.
- How to canter with no bit contact whatsoever. Nautica has taught me to rely on bit contact to counter-balance at the canter and was essentially leaning on me. 1000 lbs vs. 130… wonder who will win that one in a pulling match? Contact will come as we both learn to soften.
- How to canter in general. We forgot.
It’s been a very eventful two months and, all jokes aside, Nautica is making progress at a breakneck pace. In addition to being bombarded with all of this new riding knowledge, Nautica has had to learn “regular horse” things such as an entirely new schedule and daily turnout with other horses (it turns out he gets his social skills from me. 😬)
This has been a lot to take in, but I’m starting to believe that I have had more anxiety about all of it than he has. As a breed, the American Saddlebred is resilient and adaptable. Nautica is no exception!