Monday, May 4, 2015

Lesson #174: It ain't pretty, it just looks that way (for now)

Ariel seems excited to work this evening when I arrive because she's standing at the gate when I go out to her paddock to get her ready for the lesson. And we all know, this mare would rather be eating. I have a good feeling about things so we quickly get ready and hop into the arena to get started. The garage door is open so I ask if we could do some stuff outside (I'm itching to get out on a hack). J walks out with me to do a brief warm up in the outdoor arena. The outdoor is larger than the indoor so getting a 4 loop serpentine is very doable and because there is only a couple poles and a set of standards, there is plenty of room to get going. Immediately, Ariel is on high alert when we step outside and I see that she's looking every other which way. J says Ariel is not a fan of going out in the dark so it's my job to get her to recompose her horsey brain and relax.

What was that?!
My riding is definitely improving because it doesn't take long for me to calm Ariel down and get her brain back in check with being focused on what we're doing instead of being paranoid about every single rock, tree, rustle or corner. Once we're good there, I move into the canter around the arena and on the right rein, I experience difficulty balancing and keeping myself in check even though she's going at a good pace and just calmly moving forward. When a video is taken, we see that my lower back is just going against the motion and I seem to be "leading with my chin". I just need to recalibrate a bit more so that I'm not leaning forward as much and (surprise) relax my lower back. Although I knew I was struggling, it was helpful to have the video footage to see what I was doing.

It still isn't bright for as long of the evening so we return indoors and start on jumping. We waste no time and get right into it. I'm told to start on one jump at a time until we build up to 3 jumps. My main focus at this point is to keep my heels/weight down, especially upon the approach and remaining in a half seat. The rest of it doesn't look pretty, I'm sure but at this point, I know it's the main thing that I need to work on. The rest is details that will come together with more practice and refinement.

There is one thing that seems to give me trouble, during this lesson: I am coming off a jump towards K and I need to make a turn towards A then F but can't seem to get Ariel to ride straighter towards K and then make the appropriate turn without falling in. I suspected it is my seat that is becoming unhinged and causing her an inbalance that causes her to fall in. We know when I've done it wrong because she doesn't get enough space to get the balance to do the flying change in the corner. Sheri says, in the hunter ring, riders are expected to use the space so they can keep their horse balanced in corners and all that fun stuff--setting them up for success.

I try repeatedly until Sheri just gets up and becomes the barrier to the falling in. It is successful in the literal sense but not good enough for me because I needed an aid. I get off for the night remembering that I need to use my seat better to rebalance Ariel and myself when we are coming out of the jump.


  1. nothing wrong with using a barrier to start out with - my trainer will frequently put cones out to give riders that visual reference. riding the turns/corners can be one of the hardest things to learn - but it makes a huge difference!

    1. it's definitely tough! esp coming off a jump. i never gave it a lot of thought but then many of the students who ride very regularly really know how to ride quite well. and being an adult, i have so many strange physical limitations like a tight right hip and loose right shoulder... hahaha