If anyone was wondering if I still rode my own horse, the answer is yes! Mostly. Sort of. Winter sucks.
Anyway, in keeping with my 2018 goals, I had a lesson on Monday afternoon. I was nervous about it beforehand, because I did not have the best prep. I haven’t been able to ride consistently because the weather and the day job are conspiring against me. Then I was away for a week. Then he came up juuuuuust a touch off in his RF – you know, THAT FOOT. Overall, I did pretty well in riding it out, texting the farrier a bit, going through the logic checklist of things it might be, waiting and re-checking, and so on. It paid off because on Sunday he was pretty much better and then for the lesson on Monday he was great.
In addition to being the world’s greatest barn manager, our BM does a great lesson. She gets that I do what I can, when I can, and strikes a nice balance between pushing and understanding. The barn owner is herself a Grand Prix rider and trainer and she’s amazing, but I just don’t have the funds or the time to ride with her regularly; I use her for aspiration lessons and the BM for the grind through the winter.
I’m just going to list a few takeaways, because overall it was a really terrific lesson.
- Still need to keep my hands up. Way up. And I need to think harder about the mechanisms I use to ask for bend: up and toward my outside hip, not blocking him down too low. Then to release, release forward instead of out.
- I need to work on the cycle of ask-release right off the bat in the walk, testing out the horse I have that day and getting him reaching down and supple through his back right off the bat.
- His canter transitions have been stuttering in part because of my hands, as above. I need to stay up and not give in to the temptation when going up, or he’s blocked, and then I need to not drop my hands because that’s cuing him to break.
- In the canter, keeping my shoulders open and back and loose lets me follow much more and ride through my seat more effectively.
- Overall, she’s like to see me working much more through my seat. Both because it’s good dressage and also because it will help hold him together through his lazier moments.
- We had one awesome/hilarious bit in the canter when his hind end was totally underneath him and pushing up, but he was also soft in the mouth and through the poll, and it was like it fried his brain because everything in between those two points was total flaily tossed salad. I just stayed in the middle of it and laughed really hard and praised him. It was a fun moment to feel, though, because I could see through it to what a better canter would be and it’s always cool, even after riding the same horse for over a decade, to feel when something totally new is taking shape.
Onward and upward! Hopefully I’ll get more consistent riding time in February, and then another lesson in March.