Having finally shaken off the malaise of the holidays, I was able to finish this latest Aquabord™ which I had started before Christmas. It’s another scene from the many that I shot of Charm and her filly Reva. Since I last painted one in this series, I actually got to ride Charm quite a few times in my lessons. She’s quite a character, definitely a mare with a few opinions, but as long as I got it together enough to insist that it was really me who was in charge, we got along great.
She’s a lovely, correct Hanoverian mare with an amazing ground-covering stride. Watching her from the ground, you would never guess that. But once astride, her trot makes the unprepared rider really sit up and take notice (that rider would be me, of course). Once I got used to her, we were able to fly about the ring with what the dressage folks call “throughness” and “self-carriage”–meaning that the horse is carrying the rider forward with impulsion from behind and a strong, elevated back while maintaining a steady but not pulling contact on the bit. I learned a lot from her in those few lessons; mainly I learned what is missing from the other horses I ride! I also improved several techniques to encourage this type of carriage in those same horses. They’re all different, and their deficiencies have distinct causes so naturally the remedies sometimes have to be different depending on the horse. This is the “art” of becoming a rider rather than a passenger–being able to determine by the feel of the ride what it is that each individual horse needs from the rider. As my trainer loves to say, the rider must ask the horse “how can I help you today?” instead of the other way around! Then, if the rider pays sufficient attention, the horse magically becomes the teacher. Neat!