Tuesday was lesson night, and I was telling my trainer my struggles with straightness on Ava. It’s all so easy when Bern’s standing there. I know it’s something I’m doing, because I’m using the same techniques as in the lesson. They work in the lesson. Nothing technically different.
The fix? Sit back. Oh… Duh! Ava can’t tolerate even a smidgen of leaning forward. This sounds so simple, but gosh, I don’t even notice when I’m doing it.
Monday I had tried some counter canter with Ava, but when I can’t get her straight then she leans like a freight train on the right rein. So Tuesday, we jumped right into counter canter (with me sitting back). Bern says, “do 3 loop serpentine the width of the arena”. I’m sure my expression was “Are you crazy!”. I’m freaking out, and if Ava knew English better I’m positive she would’ve freaked out too. It’s the walls…. The walls scare me. Those things come out of no where!! I swear it! We’re just happily cantering around and Wham! a wall pops up and suddenly we have to turn on a dime. Limbs all askew, rider has a death grip on both reins, horse can’t turn because both reins are now two inches long……
I trust Bern explicitly. She wouldn’t suggest it if it was beyond our capabilities. I still freaked out a bit at first though.
So the first few attempts were just horrible. I didn’t steer, I didn’t look where I was going, I tried to drag Ava over by pulling the outside rein way out (threw her off balance), and I was (I bet you can’t guess) leaning forward.
We did get a couple of accidental flying changes. That was kind of cool.
By the end of the lesson though, we had a couple of very smooth, almost elegant looking, three loop canter serpentines! I was so proud of Ava! That little mare is such a trooper.