Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What a day!

As you may have guessed by now, the Thoroughbred is my favorite breed.

Andalusians have always been my second favorite. I've seen them in the Parade of Breeds at the Kentucky Horse Park. I saw them in Spain, with thick braided white manes down to their knees. I have hardcover Robert Vavra books with Andalusians galloping across the glossy pages. When I collected Breyers, my favorites were the Andalusians. My computer wallpaper is a picture of an Andalusian, head bowed, mane in a french braid.

I've always thought Andalusians were jaw-droppingly beautiful. With their floaty action, regal heads, and long manes and tails, they are the epitome of romantic equine beauty.

Until today, I'd never met one. Today I rode a beautiful gray Andalusian mare. She was quite a change from Limerick. Honestly, Limerick is the only horse I have ever ridden dressage on. I know exactly which buttons to push to bring her into a collected frame.

The Andalusian mare had a big walk and high-stepping trot and canter. I felt this immense power coming from her hindquarters, just waiting to be captured. Yet at the same time, she wasn't hot or flighty; instead, she was patient and responsive.

The owner of the mare helped me work on my positioning. Legs are okay, toes could be turned inwards a bit. She said I hold my feet at a 45-degree angle and it's true. In fact, earlier that morning while riding Limerick, I felt an unfamiliar twinge of pain around my right knee...perhaps it's from that.

The biggest issue was my upper body--try as I might, I just had an incredibly hard time keeping it perfectly upright, chest open. This has always been one of my biggest issues when riding. Why? I don't know. It could partly be phyiscal. When Limerick was five and I was sixteen, she spooked and I was thrown into the arena wall. I didn't know it at the time but my right shoulder blade was thrown out of alignment. To this day, I can't pull my right shoulder back as far as my left. Even my tattoo artist has noted that my back is not centered. So who knows?

But I have plans to try and overcome this, starting with some physical excercises that I can do. Then perhaps riding Limerick on the lunge line, reins knotted up and put away, will help me some.

After the ride, I was introduced to some other Andalusians. They were all sweet, kind horses; curious yet polite--no toe-stepping going on here, despite us standing in the pasture with them, treats in our midst! And yes, they were all stunning. It was the experience of a lifetime, for sure.

Years ago, a seed was planted in my head. Today, it was watered. Someday, when we have our Kentucky farm, I'll get an Andalusian of my own.

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