One step forward, two steps sideways

I’m a little later than my usual on posting. 

Between a physically exhausting job as a full-time working student, part-time web developing gigs, filling out entries for my thoroughbred to compete in her first recognized horse trial in a little over a week, and simultaneously hemorrhaging the last, sad remnants of my “emergency” fund, I’m surprised I can still form coherent sentences. I’m physically, mentally and now financially drained. The dark circles under my eyes are beginning to rival TV detective Perry Mason’s and “tired” is no longer a feeling but a personality trait.

Back to dressage. Last Thursday Nautica lost the ability to yield his shoulder. I’m not even talking about turns on the haunches—we’re not there yet. Nautica can’t even contemplate giving to leg pressure in any way except swinging his hind end around in circles. At least we have that, I guess.

After twenty minutes of obstinate circling, hind-end spinning, and even a very Saddlebred “parking out” and refusing to move in any direction (“That’s your cue to get off, lady.”) Nautica earned some in-hand work from our instructor, Kelly. In response, we received a very pitiful expression from Nautica and an even sadder half-assed attempt at him yielding his shoulder. He is just now starting to realize dressage is hard. Bummer.

That was the whole lesson. It took thirty minutes to get one teeny, baby yielding of the shoulder. After achieving some sort of resemblance of what we were asking for, I hopped back on for a light ride. We did some super easy stuff to relax Nautica’s brain. Poor thing! He quickly bounced right back to his typical, cheery self.

Today, Tuesday, our lesson was canceled, so we took some time to revisit the idea of lunging. Nautica long-lines great. He lunges horribly. It goes along with the whole speedy trot, falling-in on a circle habit of his. Unfortunately, lunging in side reins offers more benefits at Nautica’s current level of training.

Like most things, our lunge did not go as planned. Upon picking up the trot,  Nautica immediately emulated his best impression of a road horse. By the time I was able to convince Nautica to switch gears from Louisville green shavings and back to dressage he was already lathered and panting. We got nothing done. It was a very pretty “show horse” trot though.

So here we are. I’m likely going to hack him out tomorrow—probably not going to be nearly as uneventful as one would imagine—and hope for a productive training ride Thursday. I’m still very thankful Nautica is sound, comfortable and trying his best every ride, even if he has off days (or weeks.)

He’s still the best.

Happy Birthday, Nautica!

Nautica had a birthday on April 1st. He turned 13! It’s hard to believe I’ve known him since he was only five years old. The time goes by too fast. We threw a big party for him last Monday complete with balloons, cake, and his favorite horse cookies!

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