Friday, May 9, 2008

Dressage lesson

Yesterday I had my first riding lesson in almost six years. I had so much fun and realize that I really miss taking lessons regularly.

I used to take them weekly, sometimes twice weekly. One dressage lesson, one jumping lesson. When Limerick unexpectedly had to retire from jumping, she was moved to a casual boarding barn that did not offer lessons.

When I realized my current barn, which I moved to in December of 2007, offered dressage lessons, that set the gears churning in my head. Unfortunately though, Limerick was not sound enough for lessons.

In March, the dressage trainer bought her own horse and re-directed her energy towards training that horse. She moved to another barn. I thought, "Oh well, so much for that." Fortunately, another dressage trainer took her place.

I wish I could afford a training package but I'll have to take the lessons when I can afford them.

We warmed up and waited while the trainer finished up with another horse and rider. Finally, she was done and beckoned me over. Limerick put her nose out and sniffed the trainer. She laughed.

She told me to walk, trot and canter each way so she could watch how we moved. When we were done, I walked Limerick back to the trainer.

"First of all, Limerick is very cute; she has a fantastic walk," she said. I recalled how, four months prior, Limerick was so stiff and sore that she walked slowly and delibrately, like a horse many years her senior. I smiled inside when the trainer praised Lim's walk.

She told me that while I had a great seat, I had to work on keeping my upper body from tilting forward. My right hand is supple but my left tends to let the rein loop. I told my trainer how it feels like I'm flopping all over the place and she reassured me that I wasn't.

I showed the trainer the hand signs my old instructors had used. One for each of the following: walk, trot, canter, sitting trot, posting trot. For detailed instructions and feedback, she would beckon me over.

"It's hard to read lips from 20 meters away," I explained. She laughed.

And so for the next half-hour, I danced with Limerick all around the arena. We were alone and we consumed the entire arena. Figure-eights, loops, small circles, large circles, diagnonal lines. I kept my seat deep and focused on my upper body and left hand. My eyes would flick towards the trainer now and then, looking for instructions. When we were perfect, I felt it. Limerick would suddenly be floating beneath me, her mouth soft, her forelegs lifting up high, her hind legs driving her body forward.

It's one of the best feelings in the world.

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