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It’s a beautiful today in Florida! Arguably, the prettiest day since we got down way back in December….feels like high summer!

Today I pulled out the new double and new bits and had a super ride on Rafi!  When I rode her in the double a few weeks ago, I felt her back off my driving aids a bit. I also felt the curb bit was definitely too small for her. So she got a new bridle….Good thing I don’t like shopping for Me-ee!!! I am definitely not investing in new clothes for me this spring! I used to have this little discretionary fund….it ran out sometime back in February…

But I digress…

Had a super ride. The new bridle is still rather stiff despite last night’s oiling. I have small hands and have never ridden in rubber backed reins before. Frankly, I was expecting to dislike them as they are both wide and thick. But allowing for the need to get them broken in, I found them surprisingly helpful. The traction on the back of the snaffle rein {of course, the curb rein is NOT backed in rubber} meant less slipping through the fingers, which is a besetting sin of mine. I was expecting to have to replace them….but maybe not…

This ride, I handled the reins and whip much better than last time. Rafi has been going so well this last month that this ride bears so little resemblance to my other a few weeks ago! I felt like I was riding a new horse! And the impulsion, the obedience to the aids…all this has grown so much this month that my trainer has suggested I ride next week’s show in the double!

I won’t, however. Remembering the furor when the double was made optional for Third Level a couple of years back, I think I’m going to duck the popular criticism of the riders who choose to do so.  I am exactly the rider who that particular criticism is aimed at. The  heavy, baby boomer, adult amateur. I already get conscious and unconscious criticism about my seat and it effectiveness from the judges. If I show up in the double and have a less than stellar ride….it just perpetuates the myth about how my class of riders can’t really ride. We just buy an expensive horse, stick him in the double and climb too quickly up the levels in inappropriate proportion to our talent. I ain’t goin’ there!!!

Besides! I’m really proud of what I can do with a snaffle ~ and  the spurs that I only wear at the shows. I have a big lazy warmblood and I can get her to piaffe without the double or any other extra piece of equipment. I have a trainer who could, if she wanted to,  do the GP and GPS in the snaffle in the show ring!!! That’s the kind of rider I’d like to be…

Back to the ride: I was so pleased as this time Rafi really took the driving aids and allowed the suppling of the poll and neck  ten times better than my last double encounter. She was so good…the half passes at the trot were soft and forward. Early in the ride she wanted to stiffen and set her neck against the left rein……but I got her to yield and drive through to softness, without really going to the curb at all!!! And yet, I had no slack in the curb rein. I really rode with both bits…..it was very cool.

Tomorrow, I go back to the snaffle. Cathy thinks I may find myself happier in the double. And maybe I will. Tomorrow’s ride will be interesting! Hopefully Rafi will still respect the snaffle. I’m planning to wear spurs. I always school without them!  I want them as a back up in case she’s sluggish to the leg and seat. I will, of course, give her the opportunity to give me the same feel as today. But I want her to be mindful as we alternate the bridles over the weeks to come….Both of us have to work on the impulsion department of dressage.

She’s such a cool mare…..and I am feeling particularly blessed to have her.