~ Athena MacGrove and Bear Necessities for #RedRoseDE
Ah, freestyle dressage. The bane of heavy-bred horses like Bear. He’s not really meant for impulsion from the back end, although all the jumping we’ve been doing lately has certainly helped. Bear was bred to pull carts, and with his thick, powerful shoulders, he’s extraordinarily bad at rocking onto his hind for difficult dressage maneuvers. Still, he has pretty nice gaits and has been learning to pick his knees up, so I think he’s as ready as he can be for this competition. I pulled his mane into four long braids, each about as thick as my wrist. I have all of the jumping tack I’ll ever need, but today I was trying out a new dressage saddle by @elegantlyequine
. I know, it’s never a good idea to use new tack on a show day, but shipping was late and I had my hands full with Bingo and I’d just never gotten the chance to put this saddle on Bear’s back. So, today it would be. A trial by fire, if you will. I hoisted myself into the saddle from the ground and felt the squishy foam settle under my weight. It seemed alright, not too stiff, but it surely would soften as I broke it in. Bear and I just walked and trotted a little in the warm up arena, mostly keeping an eye on our competitors as they were called into the ring one by one. Bear chewed at his rubber dee bit and kept his ears on me the whole time.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, they called mine and Bear’s name and we trotted to the arena entrance. The rider before us had fallen off, and it made Bear antsy. The music we had chosen was Hall of the Mountain King, which started slow and quiet. I chose it as a challenge for Bear and I, because Bear is notoriously lazy, and I wanted to increase the tempo of his trot and canter as the music crescendoed. It was going to be difficult, and I had a deep pang of regret for my choice. We started slow and easy, at a walk, and I allowed Bear to stretch his neck before asking him into a frame again. As the tempo increased, we pushed into a collected trot and Bear bounced to the beat. We could both feel all eyes on us, and I think it made us perform better. (cont. in comments)