November 30, 2010

Dexter - You're a Genious.

Or our new trainer is anyways.   I’ve talked about the importance or a good trainer in a previous blog and am glad that I’ve found one out here in Colorado.  I would ride with Carol forever but seeing as she is in Florida, that just doesn’t seem practical.

My new trainer is smart, fun and always super positive, she makes learning so much fun.  I was working with Dexter by myself for a while and was starting to get frustrated as I had exhausted all my horse knowledge and he still avoided the bit.

So we broke down and started taking lessons (I always enjoyed lessons and had planned on doing so anyways).  And in a few short months he is not only not avoiding the bit, he is seeking the contact.  We learn something new every lesson.  I say we because sometimes we are teaching Dexter and sometimes we are teaching me, and its so fun to see that when I move my seat just a little his whole frame changes.  The connection between horse and rider is so amazing.  It sometimes hard to remember that even with the saddle between you two, they can still feel every weight shift, every pause, every breath.  And they are constantly listening and tuned in.

So I say Dexter is a genius because we’ve had so many special moments where everything clicks and you can tell he gets it… “Oh that’s what you want me to do.”  As I smile and pat him and say “Good boy, you did that perfectly!”  But I know my trainer deserves a lot of the credit, we can’t have “Ah-ha” moments without someone telling us how to get there.  And she’s so great in that she doesn’t get discouraged or upset when it takes us a bit longer.  Theres not “asking harder” just “keep asking” and when he gets it, praise him and reward him.  “Dexter you’re a genius… have cookie!”

So with my super intelligent horse and super confident trainer we have taken Dexter from a horse heavy on the forehand, that avoids the bit and drags himself around at the canter, to a horse reaching for the bit, pushing up in the canter, and for a moment last week, has cadence at the trot.  And the most satisfying part is my trainer has let me do all the work.  She has not ridden or lunged Dexter once, just taught and explained to me what I need to do to get it done, so I know what the aides are and I know how it feels.

It feels Great!  This is why I ride, to feel that connection with the animal and work together to achieve a goal.  I love dressage because it focuses on the harmony and the relationship between horse and rider.  There is no making a horse do anything, you can only ask.  And every time Dexter lets me get on and work with him, I thank him.  And when I see how hard he tries and how satisfied he looks when he knows he got it right, I feel so grateful to have such a willing partner.  And when we have those moments where I figure out how to ask and he figures out the answer, those moments are where I’m awestruck at how amazing the horse and rider partnership really is.  To be able to communicate on that level with an animal of such power…. I have no words.

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