Friday, August 1, 2014

Lesson #119: The Bonspiel 800

Ariel's down for the count because the crazy mare somehow hurt herself while she was out in her paddock and it's to the point where she was refusing to turn left. The vet'll come see her and they'll know what's up, soon enough. With that being the case, I was assigned to ride Bonspiel--a 17.2hh Trakehener. I've ridden him only one other time and I don't remember having an enjoyable lesson in terms of feeling confident. Today felt different though.

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Grooming and tacking up this beast of a boy was a reminder that I'm short. And that I really don't need a horse who's huge-mongous. 15-16hh is more than enough horse for me. He's fussing while I'm grooming him... probably sensing my uncertainty and seemed to be complaining about this audacious rider assignment for him. My first attempt at getting the saddle and breast plate on resulted in a miserable attempt--hello first lesson all over again. The saddle was way too far back and nothing was where it was supposed to be. I even had to ask J to help me put things together because I couldn't do it on my own. Bons also has double reins that I have already forgotten how to use but somehow I manage. J even went as far as to ask if I thought I needed help with the bridle too. Yea thanks a bunch, J. I'm never going to live that one down....

We start the lesson walking around so I can get the feel for how he moves and how I need to "talk" with him. I already know that he is a beautiful mover... graceful and flowing. And I know he likes to know what's going on with his riders. So lots of leg and reminders about where we're going/what we're doing. The trot starts with me bouncing around because I couldn't figure out how to ride it! Bons' trot is hugely bouncy and floaty. Ugh, it felt like I was starting all over again. But, in about a lap, I figured out that my lower leg needs to be quite still and he likes to know what's going on, through leg aids. This change steadied my posting but my upper body was still leaning forward. When he lost pace, I tipped forward. With this one, I realized that he likes way more pressure/contact through his mouth and I wasn't giving him enough. I'm used to riding Ariel with virtually no pressure through the reins and everything is about using my body directions to tell her what I wanted. Not that I'm not using my body with Bons but it isn't as effective as legs. In addition to this, I have to remind myself to sit back even more and the weight needs to translate through my heels more so.

The trotting around was very helpful for me to adapt to riding another horse, after riding Ariel for the better part of the year now. We move onto the sitting trot. LOL. I gave a look of "are you for real?!" and Sheri chuckled and said, "just do whatever you can". Guess what guys. I did it! It was tiring as heck but I rode that seated trot like a boss. Hooyeah! Lots of rests though... I titled this post "The Bonspiel 800" because riding this boy is an intense workout!! My legs are like jelly today. My upper back and shoulders are sore too. It took a lot of focus to ride that seated trot because I had to remind myself about loosening my hips and back and keeping my arms where they needed to be without jossling the reins and weight in heels. And adding in those regular half halts to keep him in steady pace.

One thing that was confirmed, while riding Bons is that there is something not quite right with my right side because Bons also drifts in, on the right rein. So it's not Ariel just being Ariel but she's reacting to an unbalanced part of me that is causing the drift.

The last thing... Sheri suggested I try a canter. I've rarely said no to trying something new during a lesson because I trust Sheri's judgement about what I am able to handle. He didn't lurch forward or whip his tail around but just went onwards and it was a smooth and wonderful canter. The transition down was bumpy but I stayed on and was in control! OH YEAH! Overall, a good change up and if I won't be riding Ariel for a while, I am excited to work on something 'different'.

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