It was the last of my Friday afternoon's off, so I scooted quickly across town to do a bit of grocery shopping and after ditching it at home, sprinted to the barn.
I was dreaming of recapturing Moon's movement from yesterday and was excited to see if it was possible.
I debated grabbing the video camera to try to get some proof, but changed my mind. For one, I don't like videoing others, so if there were others at the barn (and since it's spring break, there's likely to be kids around), I wouldn't be able to video anyway. Plus it just seemed like extra effort and time I wasn't in the mood for. Oh, and the fact that I feel pressured in front of the camera to perform and it all goes to crap : P
The horses were all in the barn when I arrived because everything was pretty flooded from the recent rainfalls. I thought that perhaps Moon would be in a great mood, since he really seems to love hanging out in his stall watching the world go by. Boy was I wrong when I took him out and he was dancing in the aisle. Pumped.
Gave him a good grooming, let his tail down, untangled it and tacked him up.
We joined a visiting rider and Moon's stall-neighbour in the ring and warmed up with basic walk-trot. He wasn't awesome, but he was decent and that was good enough to start. I figured things would just keep improving and we'd find yesterday's "awesome" again.
He started to fight me. Then, when all the other horses left the arena, he started calling. Then tried racing. Then surged, braced, pulled, contorted and every other misbehavior he knows.
I told myself to breathe. I started murmuring little songs to myself, as cheesey as it sounds, because it's REALLY hard to maintain a song rhythym and tense up. I'm pretty sure that it has to do with the fact that singing requires breathing and breathing keeps you relaxed.
So I murmured ('cause I'm too tone deaf to actually sing in public) as I rode, reminding myself to just keep asking. Over and over. And he kept calling.
Murmur, murmur, murmur. Trot-walk, serpentine, leg-yield, serpentine, circle, circle small, circle large, straight, counter-flex, trot-walk, etc. Moon thought fight, brace and race. I thought murmur, murmur, murmur, ask, ask, ask.
And then it happened.
It clicked for him.
He started getting soft.
He started getting round.
He started transitioning beautifully.
His trot became rhythmic.
His head lowered.
His mouth softened.
His lips lightly chewed.
And I couldn't dare ask him to stop. I'd sat there patiently for 40 minutes waiting for this to happen. I kept thinking, like yesterday, "Maybe this isn't it?". But it sure seemed right. And genius me, didn't bring a camera to prove it to myself.
I kept working on it. As W said to me this week "Ride every step". So I did.
We spent 20 minutes at a trot, that was incredible for him. I ACTUALLY felt like if we did this enough, like THIS, he'd be gaining topline and muscling.
Sometimes he'd come out of it, sometimes he's brace, sometimes he'd pull down. But I'd murmur, ask again and he'd come back to me.
Over and over again.
It was some of the best 20 minutes of our dressage career to date. I felt like someone standing on the sidelines would actually think "That's a dressage horse", instead of "There's a quarter horse trotting 'round".
By this point, it had been an hour at least. He was sweating, he was keeping his awesome round form, and I was sooo proud of him that I called it a day. His halt was perfect.
I undid his girth and walked him out by hand, knowing that he deserved the time. We worked through the struggles, and it felt great.
So tomorrow we're slated for our practice show date. It's not going to be anything fancy, just a chance for those showing this summer to try out their tests under the premise of being judged. I'm hoping to bring out the tall boots to start breaking them in, and will probably swap my blue-jeans for a nice pair of breeches. Moon's mane will get a nice running braid, his tail will hopefully de-crinkle by tomorrow and I'll give him a good brushing to get him shiny. Since I haven't any real plans for the day, I figure, why not ; ) Wish I had some clippers to trim up those fetlocks and carve a bridle path in his mane!
I brought his bridle home to buff and punch some holes in (yes, I admit I just tied a knot in his throat latch to get it to fit...proof again that's he's not a horse : P ).
I also measured and brought home his fleece 1/2 pad to give consideration for a Thinline pad. I honestly can't decide what to buy. I also have a pad that's shimable and am considering the much cheaper option of just buying thinline shims and using them in that pad. Who knows.
Since I have lots of time tomorrow afternoon between the practice show and the new barn's boarders' meeting, I might just haul out my tack box and start organizing for the move. H's given me approval to start moving my gear over and what better to do on a nice Saturday afternoon? Other then a trail ride...which we might sneak in too!
Wish us luck tomorrow!