It's neither the highlight nor the lowlight of my day, but I learned something about poop. When it freezes (as it did in the arena this evening thanks to figid temperatures) it's REALLY hard to scoop. Just keeps rolling out of the muck fork, over and over and over again. Frozen poop rolls.
But none of that really matters. I drove to the barn tonight a little frustrated. Not with Moon, but with life. Chapter's was having gift card errors, keeping me from ordering my new books. On the drive home, some lady wouldn't stop honking her horn at me when I couldn't get enough traction to sneak between on-coming traffic to cross the road. Work was frustrating me as an endless loop I thought we had solved, returned. The trailer deal seemed to be waivering thanks to title transfer issues of the deceased parent. The weather had turned cold and bitter. I wouldn't be able to make it to the border this weekend to finally pick up my dressage girth.
Moon was his usual sweetheart when I got to the barn, and I tacked and warmed him up. I set my video camera and wondered if I was making forward progress without W's coaching this week, or if I was ruining all of our hard work. We did loops. Serpentines. Transitions. We walked and we trotted and we went round and round.
Then I gathered up all of my knowledge, everything I've been told, everything I've read. I trotted Moon through some 10 m circles, transitioning between walk-trot throughout them. And when we reached the corner, I sat back and silently asked.
We made the first corner, Moon strung out and almost in a hand-gallop. As we neared the second, I looked in the direction I wanted to go, I leaned back and I drove with my seat like I've never done before.
Suddenly, we made it through the second corner, so I kept driving with my seat and trying to stay loose through my body.
And we rounded the third corner.
It was only after coming through the fourth corner that I lost my inside stirrup and we fell back to trot.
We had a canter circle. A FULL circle (technically slightly more...). It wasn't beautiful, it probably wasn't truly circular and it needs work. But the lead was right, the movement was right and it was continuous.
What did I do right???
We practiced a few more times, and while we got further around the circle then our previous attempts, we never did better then two-thirds of a circle. But I didn't care.
You'd think that it'd be because I finally proved that Moon could do it, but that's not why. It's because I FINALLY felt like a true rider. This was OUR success. No coach calling out what to do, no simply stumbling into it. This was planned, rehearsed and put into practice. One might say, "trained".
Each time through that we failed, I became more aware of ME, and less focussed on Moon. MY clamping lower legs. My tendancy to lean forward. My lack of a driving seat.
He'd go further the longer I kept my legs loose, and my body back. I was INFLUENCING him. The more I controlled him on the circle, the more I kept him from sticking his nose up during our transitions, the more I prepped him for the depart, the better he got!
I finally, finally felt like we can make progress without hand-holding. Those moments where W tells me to feel it and ride, THAT was today. We found our success. Gone are my worries whenever I look at a show schedule and see 'canter'. We'll get there. I'll make sure of it.
Oh how good that moment feels. I've been waiting and dreaming of it for so long, and can't believe that for as down as I was when I showed up at the barn, I could leave so ecstatic. Success is out there. Chase it.