Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

How to have a dressage lesson

(from GRS blog)

So where were you all night? I had a dressage lesson. It took you *that* long? I wasn't gone *that* long... Only 2... 3... 6... and a half hours. Ok maybe I was gone for a while. But let me provide a short summary of what's involved in this process:

1. Leave work. I never manage to get out of work on time, so this eats up an extra 15mins all in itself.
2. Crawl through early-rush-hour traffic (which I would've missed entirely if not for step one!) to the barn.
3. Park car.
4. Pray to auto gods that the Beast will deign to start.
5. Start Beast.
6. Thank auto gods
7. Back Beast up to trailer.
8. Pull Beast forward and try again, this time at least pretending to pay attention to where the middle is!
9. Lower trailer hitch onto ball.
10. Forcibly push/pull/shove trailer into place since step 8 was less accurate than it perhaps should've been (who nees the gym?!?! You lift weights - I lift TRAILERS!)
11. Pull Beast and Murray (that'd be the trailer - see Nicole's Guest Post if you want in the loop on how that came to be) forward to safe place to load.
12. Intelligently park facing the direction we need to leave.
13. Put down ramp and chest bar.
14. Fill haynet.
15. Attach lungeline to side of trailer "just-in-case".
(has anybody noticed I haven't technically seen my horse yet?)
16. Pack tack and gear in Beast
17. Fill water bucket even though I *know* she won't drink it
18. Collect shipping boots from Murray and bring them to the barn.
19. Bring grooming kit to crossties
20. Locate pony's halter (it'd gone for a walk) and put on pony.
21. Put pony in crossties.
22. Groom pony.
23. Wonder why pony isn't making nasty faces.
24. Put boots on pony.
25. Put shipping boots on over regular boots.
26. Watch pony do the shipping-boot dance.
27. Lead pony to trailer.
28. Wonder why pony walks on trailer like a pro.
29. Give pony treat and pats
30. Leave pony munching in trailer and go behind her to do up butt strap
31. Return to front of pony to tie her
32. Replace chest bar
33. Pat pony
34. Close back gate
35. Close people door
36. Recheck everything is done up/attached correctly (I'm a little paranoid about this - esp as Murray can be, well, temporamental :)
37. Remove lungeline from side of trailer.
38. Start Beast.
39. Realize Beast is very hungry. Too hungry to make it to the lesson and back w/o food.
40. Realize oh-so-intelligent parking to leave in the right direction sets us exactly the WRONG direction for gas.
41. 3-point-turn in w/ Beast/Murray combo. And it WAS 3 points. Sadly this is not nearlly as impressive as it sounds as I had a fairly huge and straight area to work with :) But we don't need to mention that.
42. Feed Beast
43. One last loop around the parking lot to get back to the original exit.
44. Back into the traffic crawl.
45. What's with all the HUGE trucks?!?!? Poor Murray's starting to get a complex.
46. Hit every red light in Guelph. There are a lot of them.
47. Get to coach's barn.
48. Yeah for round-about! Park trailer facing the exit.
49. Open people-door so Sienna can see out. She's significantly happier with it open.
50. Put on half-chaps (only item it's really awkward to put on while holding a dancing pony).
51. Drop back gate.
52. Attach leadline to pony.
53. Detach bungee.
54. Undo butt chain.
55. Reverse pony (she's a pro at this!)
56. Laugh when pony stops with front legs STILL on trailer gate and starts looking for grass.
57. Very quickly pull off shipping boots and store in trailer.
58. Sigh when pony realizes that far more interesting than the grass are the scary tractors and the horses in the distance.
59. Realize pony has grown significantly and can no longer be referred to as "pony".
60. Admire horse who has turned into a statue.
61. A very large, very strong statue.
62. A statue that could randomly jump in any direction at any time.
63. Contemplate the wisdom of using the statuesqe moment to quickly tack up horse.
64. Contemplate for too long and get taken for a jog by horse who's deemed standing still is a good way to get eaten.
65. Realize it's *really* hard to put a saddle on a horse who's standing on her hind legs.
66. Laugh when said horse takes half a second between landing and trying to run away to grab some grass -- clearly this is more a game than anything. Teenage. Thoroughbred. Chestnut. Mare. On a cold windy day.
67. I should know better.
68. Turns out I *do* know better.
69. Choosing to pick my battles, take TTBCM into the barn and put her in cross-ties.
70. Put her in cross-ties far away from the door.
71. Where it's quiet.
72. And there's nothing interesting going on.
73. She's still *very* tall.
74. Debate the wisdom of leaving her unsupervised in cross-ties to go get tack.
75. Realize I have no choice.
76. Leave Sienna (who does cross tie remarkably well now -- although I still remember all too well the days she didn't!)
77. Go get tack and gear.
78. Return.
79. Pat Sienna for still being where I left her :)
80. Groom horse.
81. Wait, didn't we do that already?
82. Yeah well when your horse burries her head in her food and flings it everywhere, she always gets off the trailer covered in hay. At grain time she's covered in beatpulp. It's actually fairly entertaining. If a bit of a pita.
83. Tack up horse.
84. Tack up rider.
85. Lead very tall bouncing horse to arena.
86. Notice jumping lesson going on.
87. Stand surprised and watch. Remember, dq barn. People just don't jump here. But sure enough there's a great tiny course. Jumps are little but interesting -- complete with a painted wall and an empty brush box (which we all know is *way* scarier than a full one).
88. Ask permission to ride around jump lesson.
89. Permission granted.
90. Lead Sienna into ring only to discover she's returned to her usual size and entirely relaxed.
91. Apparently friends, indoors (she loves that ring for some reason -- maybe it's the mirrors?), and jumps are a good thing.
92. Warm-up around jump lesson
93. Trot over random fences
94. Jumping is a great w/u for dressage :)
95. Make friends with other riders in the ring.
96. Watch as lesson jump-crew disasembles entire course.
97. Boooo
98. Warmup for a bit
99. Warmup a little more. Either I was way early or my coach was late. But I'm really not sure which. Last time it was my fault so I'm thinking this time it's up to her :)
100. But I could be wrong.
101. Have lesson. (ummmm will elaborate on this point later :)
102. Note, we're past step 100 when the lesson begins!
103. Be totally shown up by the Superstar CTBM (yeah how often do you see THAT combo together?!?!)
104. Spend a lot of time goofing around making smart-ass comments which my amazingly patient coach tolerates while getting best results ever from the superpony.
105. Finish lesson.
106. Cool out horse.
107. Untack horse.
108. It turned into winter again :(
109. Boooo
110. Locate blanket for Sienna.
111. Sit and chat for a while.
112. Offer water to horse.
113. Watch horse reject water.
114. Offer to let horse graze.
115. Watch horse turn back into very tall, very strong, statue.
116. Get boots from Murray and put on Sienna.
117. Repeat steps 25-54 but substitute "feed Lauren" for "feed Murray" and "junkfood" for "gasoline". Why are there still SO many huge trucks on the hwy?
146. Put Sienna back in her stall.
147. Let her chill for a bit.
148. Unpack Beast
149. Take blanket and boots off Sienna
150. Groom Sienna.
151. Put sheet on Sienna.
152. Return boots to Murray and blanket to Beast.
153. Put brushes away.
154. Give horse night feed
155. Clean and refill horse's water after she dunks night feed.
156. Clean Murray
157. Park Murray (lots of fun in the dark let me tell you!)
158. Detatch Murray from Beast.
159. Park Beast.
160. Pull fuse from Beast, so it might deign to start again next time.
161. Make beat-pulp for tomorrow's feed.
162. Chat with other people finishing up with their horses.
163. Double check that everything's done and away and Sienna is fed, clean, dry and happy.
164. Drive home.

So hey, suddenly doesn't seem so excessive does it? Note that your answer to that will reveal whether or not you're a horse person. hahahah Although admittedly most nights I can do it in about 2h less than that -- not entirely sure where that time went But that's ok. It was fun. Yes I just said fun in reference to dressage. Send some skates to your friends in hell, they just may need them >;-P

Fun because....?

Partially because my horse, who's been a *complete* wingnut for a couple weeks now, was a complete and total star. And partially cause I was in a silly mood and M's pretty kewl about that n just goes along w/ it :)

So as mentioned, we get there and Si's a *little* high. Literally. And when I went to go in the ring there was a jump lesson going on, so I wasn't sure how that would go over. But it was like somebody flicked the off switch. We went in the ring n she was an old school pony :) Couldn't care less that the others were jumping. Stayed out of the way and trotted over the occasional fence (I had a good laugh in that she was doing the green-bean "giant leap" over these tiny fences) and was generally absolutely amazing. And when the jumps were put away and the others left, still amazing :) So when M comes in and asks what we need help with... Well ummmm lost her mind and doesn't bend left. I say as my quiet as can be horse does a lovely left bend. *sigh* Maybe I should just show her the video from GV *g* I don't think she'll ever believe me otherwise :)

I couldn't help but laugh part way through as M was reiterating the importance of schooling the "almost" transitions. As in almost walk, almost canter, etc. And my mind immediately follows with "almost" jump. hahaha which would definitely be less than a good thing! And I suppose this would be why most DQs want nothing to do w/ eventers *g* Or part of it anyways :)

The other one was "always be running through the mental checklist" which is great till you have the sewing-machine-on-speed trot happening and realize you're technically not even at step ONE on the list. Kinda makes the list a moot point >;-P

We did get there though and sooner rather than later. And by the end pony was an absolute superstar. Attentive and really trying hard and actually accomplishing something that could almost be considered dressage. Woohoo! There's hope to be had :)

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