Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lesson #6: Symphony of Dialogues

I love having something to look forward to, in the middle of the week. My riding lessons have become the inspiration to help me get through rough moments at work or school. It's as if the harder I work during the day (like the more often I feel like screaming or tearing out all my hair), the more I deserve to get out to the country to get back to basics and communicate with a simple minded (this is never bad in a day and age like we have now) creature: eat, sleep, eat some more and work up to 4 hours a day.

I've been watching videos and reading to get a better idea of horse behaviour. I've never worked with prey animals before so this is different. One of the temp girls at work is actually in school to become a veterinarian and she's specializing in large animals :) That made me happy today.

I still won't get used to the commute out that way... in the back of my mind, I am reminded of how much gas consumption I have when I do this. Anyways, I arrive with extra time to spare and see I'm riding Bonnie today! Bonnie and I have come a ways since we started working together but she's also become more challenging as of late. I admit, my heart sank a little (I was hoping for Indy) but, I took a deep breath, remembered some of the videos I've been watching and reminded myself about who's boss today as I grabbed a lead.

Bonnie is a big muddy piggy again. *sigh* Time to rub and brush off that stuff. This is going to be a long tack-up. I work diligently to get things done and put together as quickly as possible. I make good time and we're called into the ring.

So far, so good. We start with a posting trot with a focus on proper diagonals and changing directions while posting trotting. This has become a little more straight forward for me to get it. I still don't "feel it", but I'm at least able to identify when I'm on the correct diagonal +50% of the time! Hurrah for me! This is improvement from my regular incorrect guess. I continue to work on the seated trot which usually just makes me feel like I'm bopping around on Bonnie's back. I never quite feel balanced and it's challenging even though Sheri and others have told me that everything looks fine--I don't feel fine.

I've discovered that Bonnie is a bit of a follower and wants to be doing what everyone else is doing, where they're doing it. This is proving to be difficult. She's already challenging me right at the start of classes. The silent dialogue usually goes something like...
Me: let's go
Bonnie: go? go where?
Me: just move.
Bonnie: I don't feel like it. My buddies are over this way...
Me: stop it. I'm on your back so you'll do what I say.
Bonnie: as if. eat me.
Me: I'm boss!
Bonnie: ha!

After several times around the ring in both directions, Sheri talks about getting into a canter. I am excited we're moving along to try other things. The aids for initiating a canter are simultaneously: sweeping your outside leg past the cinch/girth and then squeezing with both legs while loosening up your hold and body to move with the horse's 3-beat gait. Add steering and you've got a mess on Bonnie: me. I got her to canter a few steps but she's so darned wobbly that I'm terrified I'll fall off. The other two girls are getting it just fine... give it time, I tell myself. It's my first time and I didn't do too badly since I got Bonnie to canter a few times for a bit. At least she ain't no Rock but no dice today.

My other problem has been being unable to keep my heels down and pressure in the balls of my feet so I keep proper contact with the stirrups. I find I'm gripping with my thighs and thus my feet are riding up to compensate. I'm supposed to both relax my lower body yet give pressure through the balls of my feet on the stirrup. Really, did I ever tell you I'm terrible at keeping up during an aerobics class? And yet, while riding, I'm being asked to do more than I would ever do, simultaneously, during an aerobics class!

Next, we move quickly to the 2-point position and jumping! I didn't think I'd get to jumping for a while. I wasn't prepared when Bonnie did jump that I lost balance. Good thing my fear of falling off keeps me glued on there ;) We do this several times and I'm finding jumping to be good fun. Now... if only I can figure out how to canter...

We finish class with some bareback riding during the cool down. It's interesting to sway side to side with Bonnie's walk. Aside from becoming one with your horse, balance is certainly being tested here! Both Bonnie and I are sweaty and we're relieved that we're done for the night. Time to wrap it up and head home to call it a night.

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