Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lesson #193, 194 & 195: Dogged Determination

There hasn't been a lot to report on, in the last couple of weeks. That, and I spent an afternoon in the local ER due to a health related concern that I don't have answers to, quite yet. I'm not the type to worry until I know what there is to worry about... we'll know when I demand some tests from my regular doctor. In addition, whatever it was took me out for a week and I'm still having some difficulties being 100%.

But enough about the boring stuff that remains a mystery and out of my control; let's talk about the last 3 lessons! We focused on flat work. I hadn't been feeling up to any jumping and I wanted to gain some mastery with the sitting trot rather than continue to bounce around on top of Ariel. So away I went... lesson after lesson doing nothing other than sitting trot.

J pointed out that he knew when I was doing it wrong (that is, absorbing the motion incorrectly) when the pony tail hanging down my back was bouncing along with me. He reminded me to sit back (which feels like I'm leaning right back) and to absorb with my hips and abs. Apparently it's a momentary "on/off" contraction of muscles; as solid contraction or lack thereof would result in the incorrect motion. So around and around I went... with and without stirrups. Sometimes it was successful and other times (often) it wasn't. I also got into some canter just to keep things interesting and I practiced the dreaded figure 8 exercise that would have the transition of the lead at the centre of the figure. I determined to do the simple change since that was what I was struggling with in the past. I would say things were getting better since I was able to accomplish that when I asked (and when I was late, Ariel did the autochange for us). I also mustered the courage to canter without stirrups since several lessons ago, Sheri asked me to do it but I totally chickened out. I did it!! It started out as me losing my stirrup and going around without them. I came back down just fine so figured, this might mean I can do it without, period! It is tricky though... because it's easy to grip with your knees and curl forward because the horse is speeding up or you're getting nervous.

One of the things I did struggle with remains the smooth and consistent canter transitions as well as my own twisty body. Transitions remain tricky as I tend to lean forward when asking and thus putting Ariel on the forehand. I also wanted to get the transitions without the need for artificial aids like the bat/crop. Like most horses, Ariel sped up when her rider is holding one but I that meant that i was doing something wrong when she would speed up the trot or simply ignore me. I spent my lessons determined not to use them until I was pretty beat fighting with the mare. My twisty body added to the complications and I would torque outwards and so Ariel was doing the same counter bend. Actively telling myself to open up my chest and keeping my shoulders down and back was really challenging since all the other stuff needed my attention too.

During the last lesson, +ADW and I swapped things up again and I hopped on Molson while he practiced his sitting trot on Ariel (apparently the easier of the two). J teased me and said that if we were to do that, I'd need to jump on Molson. I felt more myself and confidently accepted the challenge. We didn't do anything exciting since anyone jumping with the "King of the Long Spot" usually would crap their paints after riding a horse like Ariel. Molson and I went off just fine even though he did his usual power up 3 strides into the jump and I did my usual "omg I'm going to die". We didn't do half bad considering I was crapping my pants up there but I needed to give him more of a release. Yea right. Give more release to a horse that tends to drop his front end. The trick to try? Place both my hands on his neck as we are coming into the jump to give him the release and to get my into the right position over. Worked like a charm! If you can maintain the courage not to pull back and just go with it.

So while it wasn't back with me jumping the 2'3" course, I did pull myself together enough to progress with the sitting trot and got over the fear of riding jumps with the Molson.


  1. I admire your outlook! I'm always striving to stop worrying about things I can't control. It's a lot of wasted energy and unnecessary stress. I hope that you get everything health wise resolved soon.

    I don't know much about anything horse related, but to my uninformed reading, it sounds like you are making good progress there!

    1. it's still easier said than done! i find that i tend to think that way with my health--which is both good and bad. i needed a lot of coaxing from different sources to make an appointment with my doctor because of this. but at the same time, i am not worried at all! that all said though, health is not something to glaze over so i'm glad i am taking control by getting appointments and such.

      and thanks for the encouraging words! i felt a little stuck so it's been great to have small victories.

  2. ugh canter transitions are like elusive mystical mythical beasts to me... and i have a whole 9min video posting tomorrow wherein a trainer tries to work through it with me... it's just plain old hard, i think. also Molson sounds very different from Ariel - but definitely fun!

    1. totally! sometimes it's bang on. other times it's like a sewing machine trot at full speed until you just give up!
      molson is totally different! he's for one, less saucy when things go wrong on my end. and he's wanting as much contact as humanly possible. a good experience but always intimidating!