@Nikki thanks a lot! I loved writing that scene, it was so sweet <3
“Alright girls, - Janet clapped her hands, - now let’s try something more challenging. Why don’t you two ride a pair of circles in a pair? Start with trotting. I want to see how you two look together.”
Elisabeth and Sophie came up to each other and let their horses get used to being together. Lametta was still young and acted cautiously, while Salinero immediately took the lead. At the beginning, the exercise didn’t look well as the mare was always behind.
“No, wait, it doesn’t work. Elisabeth, Salinero dominates and pushes Lametta into the wall. And you, Sophie, are not strong enough to support your horse.Try swapping the places.” - said the trainer.
It was getting better. In a few minutes, the horses finally synchronised with each other. The riders felt more confident and made a few attempts to do serpentines and circles.
“Ok, much better. How about canter?” - Janet sounded mischievous. Sophie knew this voice very well. It meant that the trainer had something up on her mind. Her ideas were always full of challenge. Take, for example, that show when Sophie found out on what horse she was competing right before the warm-up. Janet wanted to test her pupil and didn’t mistake. She took the second place then, and it was not a local but a national show. Elisabeth was also familiar with Janet’s suddenness: one she got a message the night before a show saying that she would ride a different test. Elisabeth had never tried that Fourth level test before and was pretty shocked, but nevertheless placed high.
“A tip for you, Sophie. You’re the inner rider. When going into a corner, a loop or a circle, hold on for one stride, - Janet went on, - Then you won’t jump forward since your radius is smaller. Yes, now have a little rest and pat your horses. Good job!”
The girls were chatting and walking while Janet was scribbling something in her Moleskine. Every dressage rider in Harbledore knew this notebook. The woman carried it with her everywhere and write down anything she found useful: exercises, useful tips from other riders, show results, names of prospective horses on sale. Now she was drawing some lines and murmuring.
“Left, two short diagonals... centre line… two circles… Yes, good, - Janet looked up on her riders, - Ladies, are you ready for a pas-de-deux? I’ve made a test for you. Come up here, I’ll show it. And I’ll tell you where to ride, so you won’t get lost.”
“So are you ready, Sophie?” - asked Elisabeth.
“At least we try this now and not at the show. This is so Janet-like, - laughed the second rider, - Right, let’s have fun, shall we?”
Having said it, the girls began the pas de deux. The beginning was not that scary - collected walk, halt and salute, a quarter of the pirouette.
“Now collected canter, a diagonal towards X” - commanded the trainer.
They were about to begin a circle at X when Salinero tried to rush forward. Elisabeth used all her strength to stop him and ended up over-collecting the canter. She wanted to correct herself but Janet stopped her.
“No, Elisabeth, leave the canter at this speed and do a pirouette. Yes, on a snaffle. Problem? And look where you’re riding. Both of you!”
The second diagonal was followed by a flying change. Salinero nailed it but Lametta was late.
“Sophie, release the reins a bit, give her freedom, - Janet reacted immediately, - here comes a full diagonal with an extension and then repeat the thing with the circle. Don’t rush!”
This time the girls did it better. For some time the horses moved absolutely identically.
“Beautiful ladies, amazing! Do a circle at C and start the diagonal in trot. Remember what’s next? Always think one move ahead, especially when riding in a pair.”
Having finished the medium trot, the girls came on the centre line and parted with leg yields. Lametta was moving a bit faster than Salinero. Of course, it didn’t hide from Janet.
“Sophie watch your teammate. See that Elisabeth is slower? Slow down too. Don’t forget to look at each other from with the corner of your eye.”
The horses met at C again and began walking down the centre line. Finally, the riders could have a breath. They did two half pirouettes and walked diagonally towards K.
“Collected trot again, centre line and a leg yield with a circle at E. Elisabeth, watch out and don’t push Sophie too much. Lametta doesn’t like it on the outer side.” - said Janet while taking some notes. When she looked up, the pair was already in the middle of the diagonal.
“Hey, somebody forgot the circle, didn’t they”, - she shouted at their backs, - It’s the final centre line now. Shoulder ins and halt at G.”
The girls stopped their horses, breather out and smiled at each other. They kept patting the horses and gave them treats as Janet spoke.
“That was really good for the first time. I liked it, really liked. The test itself needs some improvement, I want to change the second leg yield. But anyway, if we practice it for a few weeks, we may enter a show. I’ll think about it. Now cool the horses down, groom them and take to the pastures. Call Me Casual is already waiting for her friend, and Salinero can make a company for Quetsch.”, - on saying that Janet gave each horse a sugar cube and went to the barn to take her own horses for a workout.
P.S: The pas-de-deux from the story is real. I rode it at a show and we won our class. Here is a video, if anyone is interested (I'm on a big bay horse)