Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lesson #66: Don't Look Down!

First major snow fall for the season and we're supposed to ride the following morning. It's a slow trek out that way but we surprisingly make reasonably good time. I do love the winter out this parts though... it's so peaceful... kind of like those Christmas cards that you see in the mail sometimes.

We worked long and hard today, on leg and seat aids again to remove the tendency to resort to hands (i.e. reins). The exercises we used were shallow serpentines, full serpentines (with ground poles) and lots of circles. ADW's moved up today... he's moved from pony to sport horse! This beautiful (and diva of a gelding) is a Trakehner whom our instructor owns, loves (of course!) and trained from foal/colt. Her original intent was to train him as a dressage horse but her comments today indicated that he both hated doing it and wasn't physically well suited for it (i.e. his confirmation wasn't great for dressage). He's a bit of a fussy boy and when he's around his Hanovarian "brother" but he's wonderful to ride. First, he's a beautiful animal, a fabulous mover and impeccably trained.

It was super cold today (the night before, it was snow and -20-ish temperatures) so warm-up was a long time so that everyone was in good shape before we started to get into the real work. Our first exercise was lots and lots of circles around the arena to get them supple and "bendy". Once things were coming together, we moved to a shallow serpentine to work on bending as we're moving forward. This was not a concept I grasped, at first... it's not a turn of the horse so much as their bodies bending away from the forward direction and "drifting" in and then back out of the rail.

A shallow serpentine

To accomplish the bend, it was a matter of using your "outside" (without getting into great detail) leg to push, your same seat to drop, your opposite leg to keep them from drifting in and then a little bit of flexion through the hands. We had to switch this 3 times! I sure hope I got all that right :S

Then we moved to wide loopy figure 8's that looked more like 2 large circles next to one another and had to remember to change our diagonal when we crossed the middle and added 3 ground poles. I was a mess. I wasn't asking Ariel early enough to turn and she would nearly crash and then just pick left or right. It wasn't pretty and I spent a lot of time looking at the ground. I have a bad habit... even when I'm walking, I have a tendency to look down. This is even worse because I can't help but look down at the ground poles but then I get obsessed about it at the moment and nothing else happens.

Our last exercise is a 2 loop serpentine that crosses 3 sets of 3 ground poles that are laid across the long length of the middle of the arena; as if there was a set between F and K, B and E, and H and M--all along the axis of A to C (above diagram). This is tough stuff my friend. If I thought that the figure 8 was tricky and it took me way too long to figure that out, this one was a HUGE mess. Ariel was confused and I was physically everywhere because instead of 1 set of 3 poles for me to fixate upon, there was THREE(!) sets of three, plus I wasn't giving her the correct signals (or timing it well). She was pretty annoyed with me and threw up her head several times. Eventually, something clicked and I managed to get through it a couple times at the end (finally!) and we ended that lesson on a great note!

Posting Diagonal Jar Tally: 2* x $2.00 = $4.00
To date: $47.00
*I only counted the ones where I should have known better and not the ones where a bazillion things were going on at once and I would have been lucky to not be caught with the incorrect diagonal*

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