Spring at last- fantastic! Four months of dressage lessons over the winter season are now behind me; most of the riding has been indoors. This particular indoor arena is fairly typical, a cavernous wooden box with pigeons populating the high rafters. When it’s seriously winter outside, its comforting to be inside, the lesson can always go on but it’s still pretty cold and dark in there. The first sunny day where the ground outside was not littered with frozen mud clods was a real treat. Casimere sensed the change, he was fresh and alert with bright eyes as I led him through the gate of the main outdoor arena.
Riding was another matter however! I soon found I was physically disoriented- a very strange feeling. I wasn’t expecting this at all but this has been my first real winter horseback. We don’t get much snow down in Florida. Over here though, flanked by both the Italian as well as the Swiss Alps, there’s been plenty of real winter. All those weeks riding inside an enclosed space and then popping outside for the first time; the previous parameters have suddenly shifted. It definitely took some getting used too. Derek Frank, my instructor was unfazed as usual; perhaps amused is more like it. “Would you rather go back inside?” No, I answered.
My wobbled riding didn’t keep Derek from our drills; “The next five minutes without stirrups please- sitting trot”, oh my! I struggled but manage to stay mounted. We ride a figure eight pattern during this exercise- a real thigh killer. The rest of the lesson went well and I was feeling pretty good, definitely more normal. Then Casimere saw someone riding by the arena on a bicycle- shwing! Good thing we had completed the “no stirrups” part of the lesson. We finished up and I led Casimere over to the gate. Derek handed me a hoofpick and I handed him the reins to hold Casimere. As I was working to pick out the big guy’s feet, Derek’s phone rang and he started chatting away in German. I put the last foot down and looked over to see that Derek had left and Casimere had been standing the whole time, on his own, with the reins neatly hung over his neck. A good lesson horse is a wonderful thing.