The weekend was off to a great start. I went riding with a friend, and I schooled Berry over some jumps, practicing landing on the correct lead. She got it 75% of the time. Progress! Maybe I can do that instead of those blasted lead changes!
Berry was practicing holding her head at a slant.
She had actually slipped going around the turn and she was so disappointed in herself, she shook her head back and forth. I think she’s being a bit too hard on herself. It’s okay Berry, we all slip from time to time.
We went on a nice relaxing trail ride after. Berry was very enthusiastic about that, and showcased her enthusiasm by taking a bounding leap over a ditch so vigorously, that despite being very prepared for such a thing, I nearly fell off. I was lucky my friend was standing on the other side and Berry felt it was fine to stop as soon as she reached her. It’s moments like these that I wonder if she actually is a talented jumper, she only feels like showcasing it when other horses are watching.
She loves trail rides, and I love that about her.
On Sunday, I took a lesson with my trainer. It’s only my second lesson with her this year, and on the first occasion, Berry and I were so out of shape it hardly counted. Now, I’ve been riding her regularly, and we’re feeling good. So I was expecting a pretty awesome lesson where I wow’d my trainer with my poweress.
“Wow, your amazing practice and results from that 2’6″ course you did at a show are really paying off! Look at you, you are clearly capable of moving up to 2’9″ immediately, and probably 3′ seconds after that.”
Naturally since I assumed it would happen like that, it happened nothing like that. We warmed up while she was finishing her previous lesson, and then we discussed my current issues (namely those damn lead changes!) and we decided to do a simple warm up: canter the long side, and circle around in a teardrop fashion back to the same long side. Basically, canter leg yield. At the rail, I would do a simple change.
It sounds super simple, and really it should have been. This is an exercise Berry and I have been doing since at least a year ago, many times. So we began.
And it was a disaster. At first, she simply broke the canter, my fault. But then I got after her to do it, and she started getting snippy, so to speak. She started blowing through my aids and rushing down the long side like a freight train, her chin tucked to her chest. So, we were told to half each time in the middle of the long side. That started a whole new range of issues. Blowing through the aids, rushing, and then dragging me down as she halted, and then backing up and popping rears. I only vaguely knew she had it in her.
We decided to take it back a step, and just canter in a circle. And that’s what I literally did, I cantered in a circle, keeping her head up so she didn’t drop it to her knees. I had little t-rex arms to keep her up.
We got to do lots of half/canter transitions. Berry was so pissed she started pawing the ground at every halt. Completely new behavior.
Eventually my trainer sent us back to the long side for the canter leg yield exercise. It still sucks, and I had the added bonus of feeling like I was about to collapse in exhaustion. Before this, I’ve never really been sternly talked to by my trainer. But I got a stern talking to today. I was floppy and all over the place and not backing up my aids, and letting her get away with everything. I will admit this is all correct. It was a pretty awful ride.
Eventually, as the horse and I were drenched in sweat, we called it a day. She didn’t do it acceptability, she just stopped being somewhat pissy. She was only sort of pissy. A slight improvement I guess.
It was rough. I suppose I took for granted that my horse would always be mostly good. I needed a reminder of what it’s like to ride a green horse…or to ride a not so green horse, just one that’s in a pretty pissed off mood. Horses keep you humble…
Now my homework is super basic – “Canter your horse in a circle. Next week, we try again.” Big difference from the 2’9″ I thought we’d be doing.