So since the Championships I was thinking to myself, would I continue to do some dressage next year? Or was this just a fun thing to do for this year? I really enjoyed the dressage shows, everyone was incredibly friendly and I just had a lot of fun.
The one thing that kept sticking in my mind was that we'd absolutely have to move up a level if we continued next year because... that's how it works. So I began reading through the 1st level tests and realized that the main difference between training and 1st is the addition of lengthened gaits and leg yielding. The lengthening didn't seem to be too much of an issue, we could do that and a leg yield to the right we could do, but what about the leg yield to the left.... Nah we'd never be able to do 1st level. I had tried it a few times with a dressage whip but it just didn't work, it wasn't stiff enough to actually ask her to move over.
There's a schooling show coming up this weekend that was I planning to take some of my lesson kids to and I was mulling over the idea of trying a 1st level test to see if we could somewhat get ourselves through it.
Now I must have the most supportive family when it comes to showing and this whole sidesaddle business because my mom gave me an early Christmas present the other day. She gave me an absolutely gorgeous sidesaddle whip. It's MUCH longer than than the hunt whips I've got and perfect for dressage.
I tried it out last night and I swear, this stick is magical!! I played around at the walk and trot to start with, so I could get used to riding with it and so Brigit could get used to it being there and then we tried a leg yield to the left and I swear, that horse has never leg yielded so well in all the time I've had her!! Down the quarter line we came, opened the left rein a bit and laid the stick against her belly and we had this amazing lateral feeling. Normally her hind end lags a little bit but with this whip in just the right spot you could feel everything engage and almost swing over underneath you. What a neat, lightbulb moment!
Now don't get me wrong, I know I'm in for a lot more work if we want to do 1st level and do it well but this is definitely a promising start!! I think the biggest challenge is going to be getting Brigit to relax when I'm riding with a whip.... she really doesn't like them and is so sensitive that if she even sees it move out of the corner of her eye she thinks it's time to move....Which could make that stretchy trot circle even more tricky to get.. I found the most difficult part was keeping it still at the canter; normally I'd rest it on my leg if I was astride but aside, it's really got nowhere to go. It'll probably just take a bunch of riding to get both of us used to it and desensitized a bit.
Not only is it magical.... but it's awfully pretty too!
One of these days I'll get a video of the infamous leg yielding to share too!
And I guess if I didn't officially have a collection of antique whips before.... I sure do now! I guess if I'm down to *only* 2 sidesaddles then it's ok to collect something else... hehe