Is "dragon" a verb? I think Arwen makes it one.
|Had my saddle slipped forward? Yes. Was this a direct result of ferocious Dragoning? Maybe.|
There's a growing community of working equitation riders on the East Rand, not far from us. I'd only ever seen videos of WE, but it looked like a ton of fun. Arwen has won her share of championships in working riding but always wishes she could go a bit faster. Since the maneability part of WE basically looked like working riding on steroids, I'd always had a pipe dream of trying it out with the dragonbeast itself.
When I saw an introductory WE clinic advertised for last Sunday, it was a no-brainer. We made our (amazingly inexpensive) booking, tossed the beast in the box, and off we went on our first husband-and-wife horse-related excursion.
As usual, Arwen sweated the whole way there. She's always a sweaty person in general and, in eight or nine years of traveling to things, she's never stopped sweating on the way there. (Never on the way back, though). Still, I was a little concerned when we unloaded a snorting, sweating dragon when we got to the small, pleasant yard where the clinic was being held. Arwen has only been off property twice since Wynnie was conceived - once to the vet and once to look after Wynnie when we showed her in hand at HOY 2022 - and hasn't been ridden off property at all for more than two years.
Despite the rising dragon vibes, I didn't have time to stress about it. I was, as usual, late. We strapped on her saddle and headed for the arena, where my trepidation only increased when I discovered that there were about twenty of us. It was a large jumping-size arena with plenty of space around it, certainly enough to accommodate all of us, and on Lancey or Thunder I would not have batted an eye. However, Arwen, being a Dragon, kicks mightily when provoked. Eyeing the couple of young horses already losing their various marbles, I sincerely hoped that she wouldn't be provoked today.
Still, to my surprise, Arwen felt relatively chill as we strolled around the edge of the arena. She tipped an ear toward one or two spooky things but was immediately happy to settle in and get to work. We trotted a few circles, and while she was hot and I did not regret my choice to leave my whip at the horsebox, she was listening well and not running through my aids. I could, however, feel a buck brewing right behind the saddle.
We got right to the obstacles, starting with the stock pen. It wasn't that small - maybe a 15m circle on the outside with a volte on the inside - but, mindful of that brewing buck, Arwen and I trotted it.
|clearly applying the lesson to lift my hands lol|
While we were waiting for everyone else to go, I schooled her a little on the grass, and the buck magnificently came out when I asked for canter left. It was just a porpoise really, so I put my leg on and growled through it and she obliged. She did offer a few more bucks throughout the day but they felt like pure excitement and honestly, who can blame her? Life is awesomely exciting if you are a dragon, even if you're a 16-year-old one.
The next obstacle was a little lane, at the end of which there was a bell. One had to canter in, halt, ring the bell and rein-back out (there were easier options, like just walking in and doing three steps of rein-back instead, but Dragonbeast and I felt like we had it handled). Apart from the fact that Arwen randomly decided that she couldn't rein-back anymore while we were waiting, which we sorted out quite quickly before actually trying the obstacle, this was a non-event.
The next obstacle was the easiest and also the one with which we had the most trouble, for whatever reason (perhaps not stimulating enough by mare standards). Simply cantering up to a drum, picking up the jug, holding it over my head, and putting it back down again. Easy, right? Not if you have a dragon. Arwen decided that this was far too exciting to stand still, and nearly knocked the drum over with her voluptuous buttocks. We practiced this one repeatedly while waiting for other obstacles and eventually she did remember her manners.
I anticipated some drama around the bridge. Arwen has never minded going onto mats in working riding classes, but this was a very different kettle of fish. When we went up to the bridge the first time, I let her put her head down and sniff, and she stepped onto it without even being asked. After that she took it confidently from both reins, no questions asked. I think it was her favourite obstacle.
We followed this with side-passing over a pole, which was also very exciting in her mind, but we didn't quite managed to complete the full side-pass any faster than a walk. I think once she gets the idea a little more cemented in her mind she will do it easily, so it's just a matter of practice.
The next obstacle was definitely the easiest for us: halting between two poles and switching an upturned flower pot from one to the other. It was done quickly enough that it held a certain dragon's attention and she didn't squirm.
Next was the slalom, which was bending poles in canter, with the emphasis being that you had to go right through the middle of the poles - not hug them like bending poles - and do a simple or flying change between each one. This was piece of cake for her, with easy changes in walk, and loads of fun, even though the many transitions did cause rising excitement and a few moments of difficulty for me.
The garrocha was definitely the hardest obstacle for me. Arwen didn't care at all about the big stick being picked up and waved around her, but the level of hand-eye coordination required for me to pick it up mid-canter was... more than I really have. We had to take several passes at it, with multiple oopsies, before I got it into my head. Something we'll definitely need to practice at home.
The final obstacle was the gate. We practiced this twice, perfectly, while no one was watching, and then as soon as it was our turn, I just... reversed my horse directly into the pole and knocked it over. Arwen even told me that "hey, mom, there's a pole there" and I insisted "no it's all good" and she took a huge step back, knocked it over with her voluptuous bottom and said "MOM THERE IS A POLE THERE". Sorry dragon, 100% my bad.
After this we had the chance to run through the whole thing ourselves. This time we did everything in canter, except for the obstacles that are supposed to be in walk and the side pass pole, and it was pretty foot perfect except for me failing majestically at grabbing the garrocha on the first two tries.
While the first few WE shows of the year clash with SANESA, HOY and dressage, there is one later in the year that I'd love to try out with her, just for fun - because she loved it and that made me love it.
I'm so happy to be riding my dragon again after she took time off for Wynnie, and I can't wait to see where this year takes us.
God is good.
|oh look, a husband!|