I have finally started to ride Cassie again. Even though I have had her for more than a year now, we have done very little riding and the last time I rode her this year was in March. Not a classical way to bring on a green horse, but when I got her, Cassie was quite traumatised and shut down, so I thought it was more important to give her time to settle. Cassie was young and very unbalanced and I think it would have been wrong to push her at the time. Besides, it takes a lot of time to get to know someone and establish a relationship. Cassie is more mature now, and I have a better idea of what she needs and what area’s we need to work on.
What I noticed when I went back to riding is that I am not fit. It is amazing how quickly you lose your riding fitness. Muscles I have always taken for granted seem to have turned to fudge and I have no idea where my stamina has gone. There was a time when I had no trouble getting on horses well over 16 hh without a mounting block and it is not all that long ago. Ah well. Fortunately, Cassie isn’t fit either, so we can work on that together.
My first aim with Cassie is to establish a good walk. Years ago my old dressage trainer used to say that there was only one gait you needed to work on with a horse and that was the walk. Establish a good walk and all the rest will flow from there. Allow a horse to amble along as if he’s strolling in a field and you’ll never get him off the forehand. The walk is the foundation of classical dressage. I’m not planning to do classical dressage with Cassie, but I still believe a good walk is the basis for everything else.
Cassie does not have a good walk. She reminds me a bit of my 15-year-old son, who is all arms and legs and doesn’t really know what to do with them. Cassie has lovely long legs, but she doesn’t really know how to use them properly and she tends to slouch. When we start out, Cassie looks for hidden dangers lurking in the hedge-rows and her walk feels un-coordinated. I remind her it’s a powerwalk we want and ask her to concentrate, because the walk you accept is the walk you will get. Cassie will walk actively for a while and I leave her alone until she slows down. Then I ask for the active walk again. Meanwhile, I have to concentrate on carrying myself and not to let my upper body collapse. No slouching for either of us.