Poor Lucy. She's better trained than me -- she's solid at 2nd level and I've never gone past 1st level. I've always had young horses that I started in dressage and brought along so I'm not used to riding a horse so well trained. Thank goodness she is a sweet forgiving mare.
When I went into Lucy's barn to get her out for my lesson, a woman was pushing a hand cart full of hay down the aisle. She was tossing flakes to the horses on either side as she went along. Just before she got to Lucy, I arrived to take Lucy out for her lesson. Great, I thought, she's not going to be happy about leaving at dinner time. I was wrong. Lucy greeted me and accepted the halter, then followed me out -- walking past the dinner cart -- to the wash rack area.
Dez, Sandy's groom, asked me to put Lucy in the end spot. "Lucy's in raging heat and I'm putting all the mares there on the end. She'll probably pee and make a mess." She didn't. I was careful grooming her because some mares don't like to be touched on their flanks when they are in heat. Lucy didn't care.
Sandy said, "She'll probably run off with you at canter" and laughed. Great. Sandy noticed my expression and said "No, really, I have never noticed any difference in her when she is in heat."
The covered arena had a couple of kids taking a lesson and another person working her horse so I suggested that we use the outside dressage court. It was warm, about 73F, but with a slight breeze so not too hot for me.
We worked on leg yield - with just a whisper of the aids. Lucy knows what to do; I don't need to "help" her. We also worked on haunches in and I finally got myself coordinated. Lucy knows how to do haunches in but I've had trouble: how much bend? Inside leg a bit back, outside leg guarding but not messing things up, a slight pulsing half-halt, and a hint of inside bend. Lucy was relieved that I finally got it.
Last we worked on downward transitions. First from trot to walk and then canter-trot. The idea was the same for both: I slow Lucy with half halts first, she collects and slows, then I sit deep and ask for the transition with my seat and she just sinks into the lower gait. Remember my rushing, careening, whee! canter? Not today. I regulated her tempo with a relaxed seat, then slowed her with half-halts and we had the most beautiful downward transition I have ever ridden from canter to trot. EVER. I said "Wow, Lucy!" and Sandy said, "She's so happy you finally figured out how to ask."
I drove home, thinking happy thoughts, and the cold rain that greeted me when I climbed into the mountains couldn't dampen my mood.