I’ve adjusted my budget (squeezed some parts, shifted some things) to do two lessons a month for at least this summer. Ideally, from now on – but we’ll see. Probably the next line I should increase is my retirement savings, but ugh.
My first in this new plan, and the first in May, was on Monday. It had some really good things and some things to work on.
So here are some things I was happy with:
- My prep for the lesson; okay, that seems really petty and small to list, but after a month in which I struggled constantly to find time for things, I left with plenty of time, groomed him to the nines, put on all his Back on Track stuff, and got a great warmup walk in before the lesson even started.
- I actually did better on not staring at his neck! I mean, I did a lot of it. But I definitely did better. I think part of what helped me was working hard on the idea the he has to be responsible for his half of the ride, and I shouldn’t micromanage or nitpick.
- I said thoughtful things and asked good questions about the things that were in my head! I don’t know how lessons work for some of you, but I tend to internalize and the only words that come out are clever quips, not actually useful conversations. But this time I was able to verbalizes the things in my head, like “I understand that we’re praising for a jump off a driving aid, even if that means an upward transition, but I’m a little worried about reprogramming his transition aids?” and then talk through that.
Here are some things I need to work on:
- I took my spurs off. I’ve been wearing big swan neck spurs for a while now, because Tristan is one of the laziest horses in the barn, any barns, all the barns. But I got over-reliant on them, and got called out for desensitizing him to them. Spurs can’t be the default, and shame on me for that.
- I need to be more sensitive to the moment just before he backs off being forward, and catch him in that moment. To do that, I need to stay on top of two things: first, stay quiet when I’m not asking for more forward, so that there is empty space that he’s required to fill and I can have a clearer sense of his gait instead of just asking all the time, and second, I need to keep my standards high, so a nice forward trot isn’t just “gee, he’s trying really hard, and he’s more forward than he usually is” but is actually forward.
- He needs to be waaaaaaaaaaaaay more sensitive to driving aids writ large. That’s something I’ve always known, but now we’re officially in boot camp. And with another lesson lined up for two weeks from now, I have homework and a defined due date, huzzah!
- Less falling for his fake-outs. He’s so good at it. I can’t bend, how about I put myself on the vertical? I can’t possibly use my inside hind, what if I overbend at the neck instead? If I fling my head all around, that’s the same thing as going more forward and sitting more in the hind end, right? Endless, endless fake-outs.
And the less-than-great:
- I’m feeling a bit crappy that the horse I’ve been riding and training for 13 years now is still in this place. I can justify things all I want – he was a literal wild horse who couldn’t be touched when I started, grad school + extremely demanding job have taken up 8 years of that, he’s a really difficult ride – but yeah. Still.