I have the magic combination now to keep Encore! settled and prepared for the long and solid path of dressage. We have often, if not always, struggled with focus. Once again, with long lines consistently used for the first half an hour to forty-five minutes of our time together, the ride outside has become the safe and sane experience we both enjoy and deserve. Encore! is a Thoroughbred. She is bred and born to run. With long lines I can take all that power to run long and flat and shape it into strong and floating.We do miles of transitions from walk to trot to trot to canter to canter to walk to canter to halt and everything in between on a twenty meter circle with long lines. We throw in a figure like a serpentine or figure eight at the end of the long lining and Encore! is relaxed, happy and listening. I hope to master all the figures and movements all the way to Gran Prix on long lines as well as under saddle.
Once Encore! has completed her “warm up” we do some mounted walk, trot, and canter transitions together on the circle and then some leg yielding and shoulder- in on an almost flat rectangle. We make do with what we have here at home then travel cross-country to our neighbor’s arena for more fun with transitions. The twenty minutes of cross country is full of restrained, even relaxed, exuberance. After two hours of adventure inside and outside the arena, Encore! returns to her catch pen and paddock to enjoy a happy roll in the sandy soil. She bounces up as if she hadn’t done a thing all day and enthusiastically devours her hay.
I’ve never in all my horse experience ridden a horse with so much enthusiasm for everything. My farrier tells me I’ve done a great job. I look at him and hope he’s telling the truth. He works with lots of Thoroughbreds. To him Encore! is super girl. I can’t help but be inclined to agree. Perhaps it’s the exclamation point I add to the end of her name that reminds me she’s special. Regardless, it’s a joy to think of tomorrow with a ride on the wild side on Encore!