Monday, August 18, 2014

Lesson #123 & 124: It's not about Perfection...

Thursday's lesson was a flat work version of "Sheri Says" and I rode with J and T. A little intimidating, considering both have been riding since they were tots and each are riding their own horses. But it's time to learn. We didn't canter at all, during the lesson. Instead, the exercises were solely focused in the trot and walk gaits, with lots of transitions, bending and collection. We ended the lesson on some leg yielding and Bons is a beautiful mover even though he hates doing dressage exercises. I've also been getting the incorrect diagonal for a few lessons now... and it's making me crazy. I don't seem to notice it until Sheri calls me out on it. Otherwise, the lesson was relatively uneventful.

Come Sunday, I was assigned to ride Hank. He's a chestnut... one of the many chestnuts at the stable. All I know about Hank is that he needs A LOT of leg and that he otherwise knows his job in the ring. He places regularly places at shows with his rider, and is ridden by both beginners and experienced riders alike. I should have no problems. WRONG. I didn't anticipate what "a lot of leg" meant and I spent the entire start of the lesson trying to keep him from slowing down or dropping in, on the left rein. It was maddening. There I was smacking him and man-handling him to do what I wanted of him. I was usually too late when I realized he was falling in and so correcting him was a real pain: inside flexion to get that bend and then lots of inside (left) leg pushing him back out while maintaining the contact in the outside (right) rein. He's miserable on the left rein and the rider has to do most of the work. I was riding square corners and they still didn't look square.

As we were going into corners (and circles), I needed to first, prep him but keep him 'straight' and continue to go straight until the end and just nudge ever so slightly to turn. I literally have to ride every single stride. After lots of circles over the arena, we continue on cantering around and maintaining deep corners. Hank has a wonderful canter transition from walk. It's not launchy or all over the map; he makes my transitions look good! Then we move onwards to a very small X jump... Hank steps over it. So Sheri ups the ante by having me go at it in a canter instead. Again, a lovely transition into canter and an autochange! I don't know when I"ll get used to those things; it feels like the horse is doing a little skip mid-stride. I think the reason I'm "not prepared" for it is because my seat isn't always as secure and so my weight is actually off-center. I do spend some time with remembering to post appropriately and keeping my posture etc. It's probably something I need to focus working on in the next few weeks while I can.

I do see what others mean when they say that Hank knows his job and does what he's asked to do without any major issues. As long as I tell him what I want nice and early (and clearly), he's good as gold. I think my biggest lesson is recognizing that I didn't do as poorly as I thought I had. I was lamenting that I didn't feel like anything went well. Sheri corrected me and reminded me that I hoped on a new horse, got the walk, trot and canter and added a little jump. Each horse is different and most riders aren't immediately perfect right at the get-go nor do they get perfection every single time. In addition, they often have to work a lot of up there.

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