Sunday, July 6, 2014

Lesson #111 & #112: The Magical Half Halt

I love and dislike bareback riding. While it miraculously massages my hips back into place, it can be tricky to stay balanced enough not to hurt yourself. I hurt myself on Thursday and my hips weren't as good as last time. So, while it's not a failure, it wasn't as good as the first time.

My lesson's aim was to let go with my hips and lower back so that my seat moulds to Ariel and I'm not bouncing. Sitting trot is improving because of this exercise but at the same time, I'm not quite there... especially if I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk. I started with a good warm up walking around and letting my hips move with Ariel... it helped to scissor my legs in motion with her front legs. My lower back is tight but no matter, it should loosen as the lesson progresses. The trot was going well so Sheri suggested that I try a canter nearer the end of the lesson. I chuckled. It's not sitting the canter that has me worried... it's the transition up or down that I'm not sure to endure. For now, we put that thought on hold.

I continue to go round and round at the trot but every now and again, I tense and so does Ariel so her trot gets choppy and I bounce more and things escalate. At one point, we're careening around a corner and I momentarily tense my body and hands--a half halt. Or at least part of it? I'm immediately told that I seem to have discovered the elusive half halt--something that is particularly difficult to teach fully to a rider. It's one of those things that you have to feel/do to really get it. I've tried reading about it and it never makes any sense. It's proof just because Ariel immediately responds by slowing down and control is regained.

While I'm fiddling with my leg aids to keep Ariel focused on moving forward and straight, I inadvertently initiate the canter (I'm also sure Ariel is just ITCHING to really get moving) and off we go! It wasn't as bad as I thought it might have been and the transition down was comfortable enough.

Sheri next suggests to try trot poles. These don't go so well for me and at some point, I end up landing lady parts into her withers. Ouch. The lesson didn't end with me being perfectly in unison with Ariel's movements but I got into the canter, I have discovered the half halt for Ariel, I managed to go round and round at the trot without falling off--I'd say that's pretty good.


Usually, the lesson following a bareback ride is much easier because things seem to be looser--namely by hips. It's just me and K today and we rode indoors despite the nice weather. After the warm up, Sheri instructs us to do no stirrup work. K's just starting with this but she's done pretty well with short spurts of trot without stirrups. This was super easy compared to the bareback lesson, hands down. I even did baby jumps without stirrups at the trot and everything flowed really well. At the end of it, I actually needed to extend my stirrups down a hole!!!

Once we're both equally exhausted with the out of stirrup work, we get into the canter. Ariel is FLYING today. And I don't meant that in a good way at all. She's just zipping around the arena at full speed and I am not happy about the speed which we're going at. Sheri reminds me "half halt!!" At first, I didn't think anything was happening but things started to collect again and we came back together. The main issue with Ariel remains her cutting corners after jumps and she'd rather careen around the corner falling in and as fast as she can. I'm reminded that I either need to use a lot more leg to push her back out, or I need to regain control through half halts. I've been doing the leg thing for weeks now... last time I thought maybe I should consider the pulsing leg aid but after today's half halts into the corner, she instantly reconnected with me. Clearly I'll be working on lots of these half halts in the future!

Next lesson is going to be an off-property lesson at the Erin Fairgrounds so I'm super stoaked because I've never ridden off property in that sort of fashion. Sheri said it's giving me the feel of a show without the actual show and all the pressures and money of doing so. I am so excited and I'm really looking forward to just flying through this week until Thursday! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment