My lesson on Thursday was awesome! And hard!
I had asked earlier in the day if I was riding the same horse as last time, thinking that since I knew where he was and such, that I would just head straight to the barn and start tacking up. But I was riding a different horse, named Cory.
I got to the barn and found Trainer D. She directed me back to the barn saying there were some girls who would help me out with him. I went over and he was completely groomed and tacked up. Little minions are awesome. Nice girls who I totally saw myself in, though I don’t think I was quite that shy when I was 12.
Since we were all ready, I hopped straight on. When I had arrived, Trainer D asked if I had spurs. I told her no since my legs aren’t stable enough for me to feel like I could wear them. So I grabbed a crop for the ride as Cory was very lazy. And he was. OMG was he lazy. Scarlet is the opposite of a push ride. He isn’t the hottest thing around. He lets you put your leg on. Sometimes he doesn’t want to move out at the trot or the canter. But it’s pretty easy to convince him that he needs to move forward. Cory was the exact opposite and it was very hard for me.
Trainer D told me to work on getting him moving out as much as possible. Kick him, use the crop, really try to get him moving forward and his back swinging.
I’ve never had to work so hard over a walk in my life.
I was feeling my muscles before we even go to the trot. His trot was pretty nice, but I had to push him in it as well. That would pretty much be the theme of the lesson. I wasn’t great at keeping my legs on. Trainer D explained that I was pinching more with my knees. That makes me think that I have my lower leg on him but in reality, I don’t. It also causes my lower legs to swing around. (Something I already know I need to fix.) She had me try the sitting trot for a bit with him. Sitting trot is really hard for me but I tried my hardest to make it work.
After trotting, we went to cantering. Trainer D likes her horses to canter from a walk. I hardly ever ask Scarlet to do that, as I’ve always been told it is harder. I probably should to push him but it’s always been trot to canter. The walk to canter during this lesson and the last one were hard. The previous horse wanted a longer canter cue than I give. Cory didn’t want to listen to me. It took many many tries each time to get him to canter. He would do a small little hop like the feeling of his front end leaving the ground at the canter and then would trot off. That was due to me releasing the cue when I would feel that. I somewhat got the hang of keeping pushing for it by the end of the lesson.
After a brief canter warm up, she had me canter over a pole with both leads so I could feel the rhythm of his canter heading up to an obstacle. After that, we jumped a tiny verticle with both leads.
The first time, I anticipated too much and leaned forward into a two point way ahead of time. This caused Cory to smack the jump because I had unbalanced him. Trainer D explained that we can’t jump the jump for the horse. We have to let them jump and let their body come up to us. The next time I went over, I tried to focus on that. She said I had improved so yay!
We then added another jump in. I would jump the small vertical and then head around the end of the arena and come off the rail to jump a small jump with some brush under it. We jumped that and I came off the rail at the correct angle this time. It wasn’t too bad. We did break to a trot before the first vertical so we did it again with more leg and managed to get around at the canter. The other way, we jumped the first vertical and then the second of a line of jumps. She wanted me to come inside the line and head out to the jump. We did it, but we chipped and got a bit underneath the jump. Trainer D explained that this was due to my line being just a little tight for the canter we had. If we had a more forward canter, we might have made it. Though she was happy that I chose a line and distance and went for it. Cory just decided to fix my decision to fit what he could do. We did it again, this time with me deciding that since he dives inward on his left lead, I’d go around the line and cut in from the outside.
The other way, we jumped the first vertical and then the second of a line of jumps. She wanted me to come inside the line and head out to the jump. We did it, but we chipped and got a bit underneath the jump. Trainer D explained that this was due to my line being just a little tight for the canter we had. If we had a more forward canter, we might have made it. Though she was happy that I chose a line and distance and went for it. Cory just decided to fix my decision to fit what he could do. We did it again, this time with me deciding that since he dives inward on his left lead, I’d go around the line and cut in from the outside. I went off and when we got around, Cory wasn’t diving. So I was like “Come on, dive in a bit.” But I pointed him at the jump and it was awesome. We angled in in one stride, straightened in the next and jumped. We were very close to the right standard, but not in danger of having to jump it. It was really cool. Trainer D was pretty happy with that.
Then we switched lead and added the first vertical, the one I had jumped on the left lead and the small brush vertical from the beginning. It was a land and angle distance between the two. Totally doable. I gave it a look as I walked around and felt pretty comfortable with it. We dropped to the trot before the first fence again but I got him back up, with a smack, after it. We went over the second fence and it was bad. The third fence was fine because I didn’t overthing the bad of the second fence. I told Trainer D that I totally flubbed that one. She said that my line was fine and it was good that I had focused on the third fence but I had focused to hard. So I collapsed down in the saddle way before we had even jumped.
I went off again and tried really hard to go jump by jump. It was better, but I jolted my back due to dropping out of my two point while still landing. I told her what I thought I did wrong and she confirmed it. She said it was good that I was so aware of what my body was doing. I have to admit, I felt pretty happy by that bit of praise. She asked if I wanted to do it again. I was pretty out of breath so I wanted to walk around a bit but I did want to do it again to make sure I got it right. It was a bit difficult to get Cory back to the canter after the longer walk break. He thought he was finished. We tried the first fence but got the trot so I headed straight back for the first fence and jumped it again before finishing. This time, I tried to basically stay up the whole time between fence two and three. I felt myself sit for about a stride but the two fences went off great otherwise.
It was a very difficult lesson, riding a horse that was so much pushing. It is completely different than what I ride every day. Its good to ride other horses and learn to be more flexible but boy it is hard. I looked at my fitness tracker after the ride and it said I had burned over 700 calories!!
So my homework between now and next time I’m able to lesson is:
Knees- keep those knees from pinching. Keep them away from the saddle as they are screwing up my leg
Two-point – Lots of two point. Get up there and hold it. Trainer D said to grab mane and get up there. Putting your hands on the horse isn’t a problem at the beginning. Then transition to an open rein movement with one arm, then switch. She said one of her favorite advanced two point exercises is to lean down, kiss the horse’s neck and then sit back up to the two point position, using only your core muscles. So I have a goal but man that sounds hard!
I added two more things for myself since she remarked on them a couple of times during the ride.
Eyes- I kept focused on Cory’s head, which isn’t at all where my focus needs to be. I need to practice keeping my gaze away from the horse and believing what I’m feeling underneath me. Checking is okay but no staring.
Hands – Somehow, my hands have traveled to the region of my groin and like to stay there. I’m reluctant to grab shorter rein on the lesson horses and I need to get over that. Horses can deal with shorter reins. I need to keep them a bit more out and up from where they like to float.
So lots done and lots more to work on but I’m very happy. I love lessons and having goals based on what me and my trainer think I need to work on.