I had a lesson with the owner of stables last weekend not my usual instructor so this was slightly odd. I used to be very nervous of the owner, she always seemed to appear when I was managing to do something idiotic. However, I have since been doing the Riding & Road Safety course which she takes part of and I realise that she simply teaches in a different manner.
So here it was that I came to the stable to find I had been assigned Tx for this lesson. Now Tx and I have done ourselves proud on a fair few occasions. Last year I joined a mid-week evening class for the more advanced riders that ride at the stables, a few of them have their own horses and have been riding much longer than I have. They are all excellent riders and a good few levels above me. My instructor had warned me that I could join in but that I had to do everything she asked and if I didn’t get something correct the first time then I didn’t get second chances in that class. So prior to my first lesson I gave Tx a pep talk in the stables and we did really well. He responded like a dream and did everything I asked of him including keeping active (Tx has two settings asleep and really asleep ;)) – the short of that story I have a real soft spot for Tx.
In Sunday’s lesson the owner worked on us getting an active walk and what to notice when warming a horse up – all this kind of thing is fascinating to me as I have always wondered about if I got my own horse (a dream, I know) how would I know these things? She asked us what we looked for when warming up and working in open order, I got asked that question last and my mind went blank which was a bit annoying. She focused a great deal on praising the horse for doing something correctly too. So we were to walk on ask for an active walk, get a few strides of active walk in then halt and praise the horse. Then we would ask them to walk on again asking for activity immediately, once we got it again we were to stop and praise them. It took Tx a while to get activity but once we did he became lighter in my hands.
In the trot we were to look for more of the same and it was nice to be focusing on different elements but all within the same context. On to the canter, this was where Tx and I slightly fell apart. Tx is not naturally forward-going so once in the canter you really need to continue to push him on. Now I don’t often have a problem with that but this week it was different. To start with the first canter the owner asked me to pull up, she explained I was leaning forward and she wanted me to rock back. She tried to explain it that I should feel like I am in a rocking chair, that’s the motion she wanted. For the second, third and fourth canters I was trying to do this and it worked to a degree but I forgot to keep the leg on Tx and without that he transitioned back to trot on the corner, this annoyed me as I should have been able to keep him going. I did wonder if my leaning forward was also slightly caused by my nerves with the owner teaching us as I have definitely improved on that front. The final exercise was turning on the fore-hand, it took Tx a few goes to understand what I was after but we managed to do one good turn – he got a lot of praise for that. At the end she did a wee round-up with each of us as we stood in the school running up our stirrups and dropping the girths – for me open my chest and expand more and rock back in the canter. It was a really nice experience in the end and I am pleased that I did it, she was not as scary as I used to think. After all I am here to learn!
Due to family shindigs I was unable to ride this Sunday, missing the Sunday banter that’s for sure, I chose to have a private lesson on Friday. It was quite quiet during the day as there was another pizza ride at night so I got my choice of horses, who to pick? First I chose Tx – the response woops you can’t have him, needed for kids. Oh well I will take Td – the response oh sorry he is being rested for the pizza ride 😦
so…P I thought he is similar to Tx and I wanted to work on same things. Don’t tell P he was my third choice. On a side note it is a good thing I didn’t get Tx – he was asleep in his stable when I went past, spark out on his side and looked like he was ignore any annoying people trying to rouse him.
With P we decided to start working on getting him active, well that’s tough. However this time it was all about me getting my position spot on as this will help him to work properly and also to let me know how to feel when is working. So the constant refrain “shoulders up, push them back and drop them down, elbows bent, move your arms, keep your bum still!”. She told me to work on checking these elements in each gait. It is an odd thing that I have started to move my bum again more in the walk, we both wondered if it had something to do with my ankle as it has only really started since then.
This idea of focusing on my position was working well – the difference in P was really good to feel and reinforces the ideas – I have mentioned that about P before – the fact he really responds to your positioning makes him great for learning these aspects on. Moving onto the trot she was teaching me to feel for the best trot, to feel when he is swinging correctly. I found him becoming light in my hands the only thing is that he wouldn’t raise his head properly – I found him pulling me slightly forward. My instructor pointed out that sometimes you need to encourage P to raise his head and so she was asking me to encourage him to come to my hands rather than let me drop my hands and lengthen my arms for him. It really did work. Next onto circles, decreasing in size around my instructor and getting him to bend for me but keeping the trot active and light, then leg yielding him back out to increase the circle size. We then did some work without stirrups, which on P is really tough at times as he is so bouncy, I nearly came off at least twice! Luckily P feels you becoming unbalanced and often slows – either that of he speeds up, it depends upon his mood.
Throughout the lesson we kept the focus on my posture that idea the owner had mentioned of open my chest and expanding. Before we moved onto the canter exercises I had to check he was still responding to me so put in a few halts and transitions then leg yielding him on the straight up the 3/4 lines. He seemed to be listening to me well although he was tricky in canter as we started on the right rein which is his weaker rein and mine so it was always going to be tough, each ask to canter had to be backed up and it took a lot to keep him going making me forget to check my posture. But on the left! Woaha, that is coming together nicely. He transitioned each time I asked beautifully – we kept going brilliantly. I was able to be back with my posture good, I reacted to his movements quickly leading my instructor to shout out compliments! All in all a nice end to the lesson. I feel like P and I improve each lesson we have together and while he is the horse I fell off, even that incident taught me a lot.
I had a few spare hours and stayed to help out, although how much help I was who can say! I did lots of grooming ready for the pizza ride that night – how B had managed to get his straw matted in his forelock I will never know. I am also getting a lot of practice putting on bridles, at my stables they use the treeless saddles and padding systems which means it isn’t the best idea for us to tack up as the padding has to be correct but we can started to learn working with bridles. I also got a lesson in horse behaviours from the owner which was fascinating, showing me why Au was reacting with suspicion to me being in her stable with the bridle. Although I might have taken on too much as I did for the first time cycle to and from the stables, that was knackering! Even more knackering than a lesson on P.