Monday, June 9, 2014

Lesson #104: Take the Horse by the Reins

We worked on flat work exercises that were TOUGH. After our usual warm-up, we get right into cantering large and on both leads.

Our first exercise is trot poles down the middle of the arena, long-wise. They start out all the same distance and our objectives remain: straight down the middle, one step per spacing and even pacing all the way around. So far, things are much more composed than they have been lately. The trot is flowing, Ariel is relaxed and our corners are good and deep. She's even bending ever so slightly and listening to what is being asked of her.

Next, the poles become gradually further apart so we start collected and gradually extend the trot stride as we move forward. Still pretty good... I'm starting to feel good about things and perhaps, loosening my "iron first" of being really specific about my directions. She's getting it, for the most part but I can feel that she's intermittently inserting her opinion when we do things.

Our next and final exercise of the lesson... a type of figure 8 where we work up to the simple change in canter. The trot poles at the center tell us we have to trot the middle so that the simple change is done. Simple change? It's basically a lead change of the leading foot of a canter. We trot into the middle and exit with a canter at the moment we turn and canter around and back towards the center again to drop into the trot over the poles and again, exit the opposite turn with a canter. Ariel doesn't like letting me look good... we're a mess getting started and she rushes the poles and the canter transition is NOT smooth. She even tries to canter over the poles in the middle a couple times. I know, major face palm!! I just work on gaining control of what I want from her and we aim not to rush the poles even if that means I'm pulling on her face to slow down, and the canter depart is a bit better a few times.

It's nice that we get to go for a cool out around the field and back so that we can clear our heads a bit before returning to the stable to un-tack and head out for lunch. It's probably what I needed since it gave me the opportunity to lead our ride (though only at the walk) and I felt Ariel seemed more comfortable with a rider who has direction and purpose.

As an analysis of what's been happening lately and this specific lesson, I'd say that since that fall, things haven't been quite right. Some of it is attributed to the injuries that have started to invade into my physicality of riding (I'm seeing the sports med doc again on Friday for a follow up to determine the next course of action) and the rest (majority) are on the fact that I can't seem to mentally get myself pulled together enough with Ariel. I have to plan all the steps better, and continually tell her what we are doing next. It isn't that she's trying to be unruly, but without specific direction from her rider, she doesn't know what is desired of her and she starts doing things that she wants to do. Then that leads to my own frustration because "I don't know what she is doing" and she starts ignoring me and we both become frustrated. It means more concentration and focus from me, on all my lessons and planning during the lesson and outside.

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