October Lesson

The October lesson was supposed to be the “Big” lesson. The lesson where I finally, after decades of hard work and heartache, learn how to do a &^%$#@! flying lead change.

My truck broke.

crazy laugh

In a desperate attempt to not throw away $60 for nothing, I raced to the barn and asked if I could borrow a horse for the lesson.

Luckily, they had one I could use. A lovely Second Level mare.

Even with the horse snafu, it was a good lesson. The mare highlighted every bad habit, incorrect riding habit, I had.

Actuallly, the mare tattled on me like mad. It was embarrassing.

In my defense, the saddle was too big, the stirrups too long, the mare unknown. But the fact remains, I have some really illogical, unhelpful, habits that are holding me back. *sigh*

Like, why does my right hand have to pull back when my right leg goes on? I’m going to duct tape my hand to the pommel. Grrr

We had some good moments, but no matter how positive a spin my trainer put on the lesson, I felt like a bright light had been shined on my deficiencies… and suddenly I realized HOW MANY of them there were.

I left feeling… sub-standard.

Leave it to dressage people to say a lesson was good because all our flaws were exposed. God, we’re a sadistic bunch, aren’t we?

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Everything’s Fine. Eek

How have things been going since the last installment, you ask?

Everything’s fine.

I now have the most collected canter possible on Joy.

In fact, I can’t seem to get her unstuck.

We’re walk, trot, and bounce in place (then sputter out and fall to pieces).

I have completely lost the left lead.

I have no idea what I’m doing and have no business training a horse.

I have a lesson this coming Saturday, and the plan was to introduce flying changes to Joy. This has been my dream for decades… to learn how to teach a correct flying change. I’m on the cusp of learning… and I have ruined my horse’s canter 5 days before the lesson. Aaaarrrgghh!

Also, this lesson is the last lesson I can have this year. If we can’t work on flying changes this lesson, then I have to wait 7 months for my next lesson (and hope like hell the trainer still wants to train me and is still willing to come to our area).

Either way… I went from low 60’s to high 60’s at First Level this year with only 4 lessons from this trainer. Pretty darn impressive.

Recap of Lesson

I should’ve written this right away, while it was all fresh… but here goes.

Joy’s first time in an arena with mirrors! It didn’t occur to me that this would be an issue. I’ve never had a horse react very much to mirrors.

It took a good 15 minutes of airs above the grounds before she settled enough to listen to me again. Didn’t stop the constant nickering to her reflection, but at least her feet were closer to the ground.

I wish I’d gotten some pics of it. She was quite the sight. Prancing and preening to herself in the mirror.

I put her back in her stall while we waited for our lesson and she screamed her fool head off. I assure you, this pony has a good set of lungs on her.

Oh.. i bought some splint/dressage boots, all white with the fluffy fake wool, for the lesson. I figured if we couldn’t awe them with our riding skills, then we could dazzle them with fashy stuff, right?

For some reason, it was really important for me to convince them she was a nice dressage pony. I guess because I’ve invested so much effort into her training, and have done it all myself… it wasn’t really about the pony.

Anyway, they looked sharp on her.

We start the lesson, and of course new trainer is feeling us out and I’m not riding all that sophisticated.. but she’s offering good suggestions and I’m seeing where I need to improve.

All good stuff.

Then she gets on the pony (I asked her too).

My God! She made Joy look like a million bucks! Like those fancy horses you see that are light years out of your budget. Just beautiful. Fluid, and soft, and powerful.

Trainer on Joy

Look at that hind leg!

She even got Joy to do a really nice lengthen on the first try. A lengthen I have never come anywhere near creating. It was so awesome!!!

What was really nice to hear:

She said Joy had a great walk and trot. Great shoulder in. Great lateral work. Was one of the few ponies she’s ridden that you could ride with your core. That she thought Joy would do Piaffe easily (once there). And that if I decide to sell her, to let her know. 😁

But her canter sucks.

Which I knew. No shocker there.(she didn’t really say it sucked, she was far too nice to put it that way).

And then I got back on…

I tried to replicate the lengthen and failed miserable. She said my hips were too tight. Which embarresed me, because I don’t want to be one of those old people with tight hips, but apparently I am (will work on this).

I did get great suggestions on improving the stretchy circle, leg yields, lengthens, and the trot overall.

And she gave me homework for the canter.

When I rode Joy again, after the lesson, I tried applying the homework she gave me for the canter and found i could duplicate a good canter at home. I think spending more time focusing on the canter overall will help a great deal over time.

Anyway, what I liked most was that this instructor was able to make quite significant changes and effect change within the first 15 minutes of my lesson, that she saw Joy as a pony with potential, and that she was excited to work with us.

I’m really digging the new trainer!

We go back again July 6th. Hopefully I’ll have everything we covered this lesson addressed and we can start working towards bigger goals!

Also, I have vid, but my video editing software is a pain and I’m lazy, so you’ll get it later…

Dressage Lesson!

I have a dressage lesson Saturday!

I’ve been really struggling to find a dressage instructor near me who has ridden at a level higher than me, can teach it effectively, and I can access them without requiring a four hour haul.

Oh, and that aren’t over $100 per 45 minute lesson.

I learned about this trainer after attending one of the GMO hosted clinics in my area. I’d never heard of her before, so I was really delighted with how effective she was as an instructor with some really run-of-the-mill type horses.

Then I had the opportunity to see her teach again at an eventing barn.

I’m extremely hopeful that she’ll be able to help Joy and I fill in the holes in our training.

So that’s my big news this week.

I already signed up for second lesson with her the beginning of July.

I’m a little nervous about it.  Every instructor is unique in how they approach things. Sometimes their approach conflicts with the ways I was taught previously.  This isn’t usually an issue if the instructor is knowledgeable enough to convey why the change is needed, or what it will improve, but I find I’m resistant to change if the “why” for why it should change isn’t clear.

I have a hard time blindly trusting people the way you need to trust your trainer.

But I’m hopeful about this trainer/instructor. She seems to know her stuff, she’s ridden through PSG, her scores match up with what she’s claimed, and it appears she’s taken horses from training level up through PSG.

So, I’m hopeful. And it feels really good to be “hopeful” again.