“Sharpen the pencil!” These words from my coach Belinda Trussell were the take away from my lesson. What on earth does “sharpen the pencil” have to do with riding a dressage horse you may well ask. Well, a sharp pencil will make your writing or drawing clear, sharp and precise. Clear ! Sharp! Precise! That’s what dressage is all about really! When I put on an aid I want my horse to react immediately and if the reaction is not immediate then I must demand a better reaction and one that is immediate. If I need a change in my horse’s frame I give a half halt and ask for that change. Did I get it? Can I feel that change? No? Then ask again and ask in as clear a way as I can. Do I need more activity? Get my ankles on and ask for it and when the energy is created, half halt it to make him even fancier, but don’t stifle that energy!
That’s all there is to it really. It sounds so clear and so simple but speaking for myself I find that sharpened pencil riding is not easy at all. The timing, the quickness of the aids, the focus on my horse’s response have my body and my brain working full time! Every Single Second. Here is an edited video from our lesson on Friday June 11. This was the first lesson allowed now that the Pandemic restrictions are being gradually loosened. In keeping with Provincial government restrictions physical activities must take place out of doors. Even gyms must have their classes outside.
The video had to be edited as we had some problems with the robot camera; it lost its’ zoom function and sometimes it also lost Biasini and me. But I think there is enough for you to hear Belinda’s instruction and to understand how she wants the pencil sharpened. You will also hear the chirping and scolding of a red winged black bird who has a nest in the hedge at the side of the arena. It was a beautiful June day and I was happy to be back in lessons with Belinda who is very encouraging. She reminds me about my less than perfect position but does not harp on it if I have got Biasini in the right frame and energy.
- Featured photo (C) Connie Gee