February 6, 2012

Exit -stage left-

I have three exams this week, that I should be studying for. But nope I find myself sitting at my laptop just dying to write about my lesson today. I know I won't get any studying, or productive studying in, until I do so.

For the past week we have had GORGEOUS weather here in Minnesota. I cannot believe it, I am almost scared to see what is going to happen on later in the month. We'll probably get dumped with 4 feet of snow in April. It was so nice that I found myself almost skipping to the barn for my lesson.

I arrived to the barn to see a bunch of horses who are also very happy about the sunny and 40 degree weather we are having. Ears all perked up, lots of whinnying, and some playful fun with each other. I walk into our herd paddock and grab Mr P for the lesson. He seemed very against going inside "But but it's NICE out I don't WANT to work, I want to be outside!" Ears all loppy and just a pitiful look on his face. Scratching his neck I promised that he could come out after the lesson, we won't be too long.

Major kuds and credit goes to the new trainer S at the stables, and also to all of the workers. Before Christmas vacation it was almost impossible to groom Mr P inside a stall by himself. He would pace and pay no attention to you and just be a big butt head, but now it's almost a 180. I believe it's with some training and he is also being consistently ridden and worked that has helped him settle down. I also try to make a point to have all the horses in the barn for 5 minutes or so by themselves so they learn that it is okay to be in the big scary barn, and that they will make it out alive.

Grooming and tacking went great. Mr P got a little upset when a fjord named Ole left the barn, but he got over it quick enough, and with that many "good boy!" and scratches. S brought one of her saddles to try on Mr P, hoping that it might fit him a little better then the other tack. It fit good in the front, but was questionable in the back, but with a fluffy saddle pad we made it work.

In the arena I did the normal starting ground work. Walk-halt-walk-halt, halt, HALT I said!-back up-walk-halt *Good boy!*, rinse rather and repeat. Fixed my stirrups, tight tightened the girth, and hopped on. S told me to be a little more conscious during the warm up since Mr P had new tack, and he seems to be very particular about tack fitting him. Nothing seemed to bother him so I warmed him up and worked on my positioning. It felt a lot different going from a dressage saddle to a hunter saddle, but I made do. S had me do some trotting around half of the arena and made some comments about my posting. I need to lean back more, and go up more than forward. I also told her that I generally loose my stirrups when I'm posting and not sure why, but I told her that I thought it was because I wasn't putting enough weight in them. She agreed with my thoughts, so now I know what to work on.

S wanted to put Mr P on a lunge line while I was riding him, to see how he would do, since I have proven that I can stay on if he decides to do some bucking. But, it went well!! I just had to coax him to not go in towards S but other than that he was, well, perfect. S had me tie the reins in a knot and drop them and just post with no reins. This made me a little worried because I thought for sure I'd flop everywhere and fall off while trotting. I walked him around the circle a few times and S told me whenever I was ready to ask him to trot off. I asked him to trot, secretly held my breath, and...it went very good! I didn't fall off and I didn't loose my balance, maybe a stirrup once or twice but not my balance. I never used the reins for balance before so I'm not sure why I was that worried about it. After working on posting, I worked on my sitting trot (which was FUNNY!) I felt like an idiot, sitting well for a few strides then *bump bump bump flop* I was looking like a rag doll in the saddle haha! I realize that it is because my hips "lock up" when I'm riding, and when sitting the trot I don't allow them to just go with the horse, I also arch my back which I am trying REALLY hard to work on.

After going around both ways, S had me trot around half of the arena. While going around someone opened the big garage doors at the far other end to bring a horse in, and -EXIT STAGE LEFT-, Mr P thought that was his cue to leave the arena, so he quickly bucked and turned left and bolted for the garage door. Instinctly I sat deep in the saddle and pulled on my left rein for a one rein stop, turned him around, and had him walk away from the door. I walked him around half the arena and did some walk-halt transitions to get him paying attention again.  He did calm down and realized that he will leave when I say it's time to leave.

Today's lesson was nice because it brought up a lot of things that I was aware that I had problems with. I told S right up front about my sloppy trot to walk transitions and how I can't seem to keep the stirrups in the correct spot when trotting. Tomorrow I hope to work on these problems a little bit more.

Thanks for reading :)

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