This is a unique and challenging time for everyone around the world. For our equestrian community, COVID-19 has cancelled shows, postponed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and closed barns, which prevents many of us from riding or even seeing our beloved horses. Perhaps it’s that last bit that hits the hardest.
To help all of us get through this scary and unprecedented time, we’ve asked our Dressage Today friends from around the globe to share with us how they’re coping so we can be reminded that we’re all in this together. We’ll hear from friends in Germany, Belgium, Portugal, the United Kingdom and beyond and hope this encourages you to share with the DT family your secrets to getting through this difficult time. We hope everyone is safe and healthy. Much love from all of us at Dressage Today. Click here to find all of the articles within the series so far.
In this article, we hear from longtime Dressage Today contributor Annie Morris, who is currently based in Portugal.
In Portugal, the situation remains stable. Only essential businesses are open. My training job continues since we have live animals. No one can visit each other, and the police were checking cars on the highway to make sure drivers are not far from their home address to make sure the disease didn't spread across the country for the Easter holiday. However, many people are finding joy in their own homes. My housemates and I recently did a take-out sushi party.
While riding, I took the idea of alignment a step further by riding in our jumping arena, which is about 100 meters long. While keeping myself aligned, I wanted many chances to practice the exercises I am working on before having to turn a corner.
For example, I ride a Prix St. Georges gelding by Sandro Hit. In collected trot, I begin a shoulder-in parallel to the wall of the arena. First, I make sure I am aligned in my hips and my shoulders and feel the horse straight underneath me. Then, I begin the shoulder-in. Of course, it’s not possible to keep the shoulder-in for 100 meters, so I ride the exercise for about 30 meters. I ask myself: Did it feel different at the beginning than at the end? Then, I do another shoulder-in on the same line, either the same way or to the other side. Did the exercise align me and the horse more, as it should have? Or did something give out and become more crooked? For me, this was just as revealing in all the lateral exercises.
Another example of riding long lines in the arena occurred while I was riding a 5-year-old Lusitano gelding. His canter to the right is more balanced than to the left. I started cantering him to the right all the way around the arena, parallel to the walls. If I felt his shoulders going out, I would bring him a bit in, closer to the center of the arena. I took many moments to align myself as we continued around the ring, and aligned the horse as needed. After a minute or two, we had the best canter of his life! Then, I repeated the same exercise on the harder lead. It took more work to align him and myself, but we improved the quality of the canter immensely.