Friday, August 22, 2014

Lesson #125: She's Baaaack!

I arrive with the expectation to ride Bons or another again. As long as it wasn't Hank... he's SO MUCH work and on a Thursday night, I just don't have it in me to deal with more work. When I see Sheri, she tells me that Ariel's back in work and that I'll be back with her! Hooray!!! Not surprisingly, when I go to get her, she's rippin' around her old paddock and making stops on the dime. I know... she's got to slow down! She seems pretty happy to see me and we get going to get tacked up.

Hiya! Sometimes I wish Deb would just keep quiet up there and let me do my thing.
I hop on Ariel and giggle a little because from having ridden Bons, I feel like I"m on a pony (though Ariel is taller than a pony at 15.1hh). G's riding today and we get started with a posting trot warm-up. I make it my point to pay attention to diagonals. Next, add in lots of bending lines... circles, serpentines, shallow serpentines etc. We're on quite the pace today and now get into the canter. I've been working on proper canter transitions with Bons and Hank and I think it's better today. I don't have any of that crazy pony trot into the canter and she initiates precisely.

Then next exercise is a series of trot poles and an X jump. I'd say the start of my loss of control starts here. I don't know what goes on in my head but it's as if I stop riding every stride. I mean I'd suppose that's sort of natural considering it's a lot going on. Ariel's okay for some autopilot when we're puttering around the arena but once she's put into work, she needs clear direction well in advance of every single action. We worked up to a small course of 3 jumps and I had zero straightness--keep in mind this is the trot. We were webbling and wobbling all over the place and I couldn't get her into the jumps on a straight line. Our goal? Getting through things on a straight line.

One of the problems was incorrect bending. She'd turn her head out and then lead with her inside shoulder. I needed to flex her head back in and maintain her from dropping inwards. This led to my man-handling her during the lesson. At least I thought it was man-handling. Apparently, that's what she needs and I wasn't doing anything wrong! I rode so long trying not to mess with her mouth because I know she hates it, that I pretty much lost contact with her mouth. So I spend the lesson working on keeping her flexed where she needed to be and adding to that with my inside leg. Half halting was another thing I had to employ to get her attention and refocus on going at jumps with a steady pace. And a hard lesson to learn when I don't have a plan... coming out of the last jump, I wasn't sure which way to go and nearly flew off when she made a turn to avoid the wall. I still struggle with riding through the autochange because it's a skip in the stride and often my position isn't in the right place to absorb it.

Needless to say, my equitation was miserable. But, focusing on one thing at a time and in some ways, being reminded that I needed to be more assertive with Ariel.

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