Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lesson #69: Taking Notes

The barn is quiet this morning. As we make our way up the drive way, I see the piles of icy snow sitting at odd angles from the driveway. It must have taken hours for them to dig themselves out this past week. The winters are rough up this way, it seems. Which isn't at all surprising but it sure was a lot more than I thought there would be. It was pretty quiet but when we entered the stable, everyone was buzzing about and Sheri came to talk to us about our mounts for today.

Everyone is available to ADW and I so Sheri suggests I give Bons a try and ADW is riding Texas. Bons is a 17.2hh Trakehner and I don't really realize that until I ask... I couldn't even get that saddle on him without getting on my toes and still, that wasn't enough of a signal that he's huge. I thought he was 16hh but he's far taller than I thought! When I climbed ontop, I felt like I was towering over everyone and that it was certainly a long way down... *gulp*

While we walk around, I'm still a mildly shocked with the difference with going from 15.1hh to 17.2hh and having some trouble adjusting psychologically. We do get started into the posting trot and I was ready for a "bouncier" post but I didn't think it was as floaty and grand. When I ride Ariel, the posting is 'easy' and comes far more naturally; with Bons, I notice that I almost have to float in the air momentarily before coming back down. It reminded me of the dragon boat stroke that one of my past coaches tried to teach us to do... slow and long air time and powerful quick water stroke. The philosophy felt similar.

It took me some time to compose myself because it was not at all like what I have been working with these past few weeks. It's as if I was moving one level at a time... and getting more and more comfortable with one level and then being pushed onwards to a new one and being challenged all over again. It was like learning to ride again... but with know-how. I do struggle with him this time because he's so big and my leg aids and pressure seem to do little in terms of getting him to do what I want. He's clearly wondering about what that little nagging itch on his side is. This lesson, I struggled with much. I struggled with my heels, my balance, positioning, coordination... all things I felt were relatively comfortable with Ariel.

We work the entire lesson on flat work and I'm happy that we did because I'm pretty sure I would not have been ready to do anything further. So, the focus was very technical and I used half halts to slow him down and do some trot to walk transitions as well as keeping him focused with those half halts during the rising in the posting trot. Lots of leg aids to keep him along the outer ring of the arena and to keep from doing whatever it was he wanted.

Some of the more technical notes that we had to take today included...
  • With any new horse, get some time to walk around with them and try stuff out.... like half halts and seeing what they respond to. How much pressure is needed for things, etc.
  • Half-halts can include short, frequent strong ones or they could be strong and long (like 1 second)
  • The outside rein is primarily the "brake" rein that is firmer and provides less give... that's what the inside rein is for.
  • I also have to remember to slow my posting down, if I want him to slow down (Toolbox Check!)
  • When we were transitioning down from posting trot, we needed to half-halt with the outside rein, stiffen our seats during the "down" and keep our legs on just enough to keep them moving forward and not getting lazy with their downward transitions.
  • If they're speeding up, the worst thing is to pull frantically on the reins because it gives them something to grab onto and pull themselves forward with. Use your seat and legs to slow down.
  • Bons is the type of horse to want much more guidance from his rider so he can go on autopilot. Sheri tells me that he much prefers the confidence of a rider on his back than one who gives him too much slack.
  • Keep ankles in a nice gentle contact with their side while you guide them forward. It gives them a "tunnel" to move forwards; you're basically telling him where you want to go... straight, turn etc...
Overall, a very intense lesson and lots of information to process for the coming week. In terms of fitness, I haven't been diligent to getting in yoga or much else and will be trying again this week to fulfill 80% or better.

Posting Diagonal Jar Tally: 1 x $2.00 = $2.00
To date: $67.00

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