Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just "Ride the Ugly"

: ) Money arrived in the bank account for my saddle. : ) Makes me pretty happy as it looks like I'm getting a set of blue amigo shipping boots (finally!) and a fleece half pad (blue with natural fleece). Yes, I spoil Moon. And yes, this is IT for pony shopping for awhile.

So yesterday we had our weekly lesson, and I wasn't expecting too much since we didn't practice. But it seems, that Moon is always on his best behaviour for W and performed like a true champion...

(Moon's new trim)

It was hot, but we rode anyway. His warm-up started with a beautiful slow walk, with lots of extension and his head held beautifully (we even had bit chewing). After doing that in both directions, we did a trot spiral with leg yielding out, which other then rushing a bit to start, he fell into a most beautiful, slow and rhythmic trot.

W sent us out to do figure 8's, which are always a problem for us. We'd figure 8 across the arena, and then come back on the 1/4 line. This time, it was RIDER error. I always think 'push' with the leg, instead of bump. Push, doesn't work. Moon pretty much ignores it. But when I finally thought, BUMP and did it, he moved really nice in his leg yield down the 1/4 line. Other rider error? The 1/4 line. I have it in my head that it's at the 1/8th line! So I always end up too close to the arena wall when we come across the ring, meaning very little room for leg yielding. Ooohhhh! 1/4 line!

I'm sure W was tempted to roll her eyes after pointing out like 6 times to me, where I SHOULD be turning. Can't blame Moon'er for that one!

What W calls his 'worried face'

The figure 8's were still a challenge, and W identified that my issue is that I waver, so Moon wavers. It's a lot of things I'm doing wrong:
1) Widening my elbows, so that I have 'wings' (well, not THAT bad, but still!), which causes me to lose my position and grip with my legs.
2) Instead of going right-bend-left-bend, I hesitate and put in a right-bend-no-bend-left-bend. This makes it difficult for Moon to switch from one bend to the other, and leaves him confused about what I'm asking.
3) I'm pretty 'passive' in my hands when setting the 'barriers' for him with my reins. They should act as walls, keeping him between them, where I sort of let them go a bit, and he can't tell what I'm really asking for.

So W had me ride a 3 loop serpentine across the ring, and REALLY focus on maintaining my arm position. It was interesting, because it REALLY helped. She told me that while my position is great normally, as soon as I let those arms go, which is ALWAYS on the serpentine, it all goes wrong. So I really concentrated on keeping my elbows in position and not 'giving away' the reins, and surprise, surprise, he gives me the nicest change in direction we've had to date!

Of course, we get 2 sets of serpentines in when suddenly he starts limping at the trot! W checked his legs and hooves out, commenting on his flat-footedness. I let her know that he's had his feet trimmed on Saturday, has some bruising on the soles and tends to be a bit of a softie. Neither of us think it was a leg thing, and she said that because he was worst on the corners, it was likely his hooves.

I kept him to a nice walk for a couple of laps, then moved to a trot circle where he gradually became less lame until finally he was moving normally. I suspect that he stepped on a rock with his owie feet and it just took a little bit for the pain to wear off. We did a couple more figure 8's to finish the lesson off, not wanting to strain him anymore since he occasionally still gave me a limp stride. Sadly, that meant we didn't get to canter this ride.

W promised me that my next lesson on him we WOULD canter, so it looks like another 2 weeks of waiting, since next week I'm riding one of her horses.

She was really, really impressed with the way he was moving (before the limp), and how collected, calm and even he was moving. She said we were ready for the canter because of how much his balance has improved and how much better he moves around the ring. He still braces at times against the bit, but it's more in his warm up and when he's getting bratty and tired of working.

She said he's got a really beautiful trot for a horse of his build, really engaging his hindquarters now, and stepping with his hind legs. Apparently he doesn't drag his toes and always reaches his hinds up into the footprints of his fronts. There was one moment in our ride that she said he looked like a thoroughbred instead of a quarter horse, really rounding himself up and moving with a lightness. I swear she's just building up my confidence, but she said we'll be ready for more then just First Level Dressage when we head to the show ring next summer.

If he had the experience in the ring and I had the money, he could probably start showing this year, as he's learned all of the basic moves required. : ) And he's got a lovely square halt. Plus, his transitions are become gorgeous. Almost popped from a walk to a canter yesterday for me!

I feel like I ride different now then I did when I started. Everytime something isn't 'perfect', instead of saying 'man, that sucked', I now think (as W always tells me): "Ride the Ugly moment". For some reason, not thinking of it as a failure or imperfection, but rather as 'putting on an ugly face', I don't get so down and beat myself up about it. He's just (or I am) pulling a face, and I need to work to put on our pretty faces. : ) "Whoops, ugly moment!"

Speak of ugly moments, I did speak to W about getting him more experience around other horses, and she suggested ring work with one other horse. They sometimes of practice days at her barn, and she might be able to find a time when I could bring him to slowly progress to working around larger groups of horses and riders. : ) THAT is what we need.

So yes. Just another awesome lesson, which showed me how much Mr. Moon is capable of. I still can hardly believe that we started lessons on May 11 and have only had 11 rides with W (heck, as far as I know, he's only had 11 lesson in his life!)! Seriously, 11 rides and he's already such a different horse in the ring. That's crazy. I'm beyond proud of him, and just LOVE teaching and learning with him. : )

In two weeks, I'm going to bring my video camera to capture the difference. Looking at him, I always feel like you can never judge a horse by his picture. The pony I fell in love with last summer was so incredibly different in movement then the horse I have today, yet his heart and soul and attitude haven't changed a bit. Go hug your heart horse; they change the world for you. : )

Anyone looking for an aussie saddle?? : )


  1. Sounds like it was really good - I like your thought of "ride the ugly moment" - I had one of those with Dawn today and we just kept on going . . .

  2. Have I ever said how much I LOVE that blue halter on him! No? Well I do!

    You know what else I say all the time? I tell myself all the time that Missy isn't getting any new stuff for awhile. Somehow, that's always when I have to spend the most money...

  3. Yay! From reading your posts, I can tell you have come a long way in just a few short months. It's amazing what we ask our horses to learn with just our hands, weight and legs, and how quickly they pick it up. If you think about it, it's really only a few hours in the saddle.

    You should be very proud of what your coach said about your preparedness for the dressage ring - that's a huge complement.

  4. Thanks Kiirsten; I would be so proud except I'm convinced she thinks I have zero self-confidence and is just trying to make me feel better! Let's face it, it's all Moon anyway ; )

    And Mare, I sure hope I CAN save a litle! Minus the float bill that just came in the mail that was $75 more then expected! : P And now I'm wondering if I should get a backup of the gorgeous blue halter... ; ) Love the way you made it 'pop' on my banner!