Friday, August 8, 2014

Lesson #121: Round and Round

Yesterday's lesson felt like one of those lessons where everything just... requires so much more effort. It's been like that a lot lately. It appears that Ariel might have done more damage than originally thought; Ariel is one of those type of mares... she's bossy and opinionated and loves nothing more than bossing others (riders included!) around. Sheri was telling me she's caught that mare kicking about and just making a fuss in her paddock before so it's no surprise she's gone and hurt herself. So, this might mean a lot more time with Bons. heh.

Last night's lesson was all flat work. I've resolved to become more active and started running (how I loathe running...) and my legs have been like jello for the better part of the week. I just need to find time to soak in an epsom salt bath to draw out the sore. The trot warm-up was tolerable but I could feel my legs wanting to give out after a few rounds along the rail. My legs were definitely not as still as they could be.

The lesson was focused on pace, rhythm and knowing how to maintain that as well as bringing the horse back, to the right pace and rhythm (be it slower or faster) should they get off it. Bons was slow and pokey at the start of the lesson, but I've started to figure out how to tell him I want him to go and then to get the immediate reaction I'm looking for. For example, the walk transition up: if I sort of just nudge a bit, he ignores me like a fly on his back; but, when I use both legs with conviction and real omph, he 'hears me' loud and clear. There aren't any quick walk steps or any funny business and I know it's successful because I don't need to use any verbal clicks or even the crop. This is great! I've figured out how to get him into the trot as needed.

But, with every positive thing, there's bound to be a negative. My loopy right leg is doing its own thing and it creeps up and this usually happens while Bons is slowly pulling me onto the forehand. Resolution? I need to resort to half-halts or I need to sit up even MORE--but, whatever I take with my hands, I need to add with leg. Are you tired yet? I am. Sheri has me interject sitting trot and reminds me that my upper body remains still and engaged (shoulders) and open (chest) and it's the lower half that has to move with Bons--relax the hips, lower back but maintain the weight in your heels so that your legs are still too. There is a heck of a lot going on simultaneously.

Sheri lays down ground poles along the short end of the ring around C and Bons decides that going faster is better. My half halts aren't as effective when my hands become "nags" and I'm no longer pulsing but holding with them because he's "running through my aids". Sheri has me progress to lots and lots of transitions: walk, trot, walk, trot... And I need to get the transition right on the letter. After a few tries, I realize that I need to start the slow down well before the actual point and that it's much more effective when I am sitting up and in the seat.

The lesson of flat work was pretty dull--I easily admit, but I know that strong flat work is the foundation to jumping well and at this point, that's what I need so that if any horse I'm riding is zooming around the course or out of control, I'll be able to regain control and set them up with the right distance for a jump.

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