I'm struggling a bit to recall where I last left off my riding-pony updates, so I'm gonna just have to wing it.
I spent the last two days at a conference, and it seems to like to be sunny all day and then rain by the time I get to the barn and start feeding. So I wind up feeding in the rain, and not really riding at all.
Tuesday was supposed to be a riding day, but the BF decided to buy a quad for me, so we spent the evening doing that instead. I got to the barn late, packed hay bales into hockey nets in the dark by flashlight and lightening flashes. Yup. And it was pouring rain. I officially hate rain.
So Wednesday I got out of the conference (which leaves me a little anti-social on the best of days), and headed over to W's to meet with K to work through our Pas a Deux. She's got a music background and needless to say, did a fabulous job. I think W enjoyed watching us run around the arena pretending to do trot extensions and leg yielding on our own two feet! We were puffing a bit too much for two active gals who ride regularly, but I think all the laughing didn't help!
We did finally nail down a routine, and K practiced it yesterday on her boy. Said it worked out really well, so now I'm awaiting the music and a free moment to ride it on Mr. Moon. It's gonna be interesting...
I'm hoping to borrow a horse next Thursday so her and I can ride it together, even if it's not on the right horses! Anything for one more practice!
My show entries were received and there's a big group of us going from W's barn. Which should be fun. T has the day off, so she'll be coming down to cheer us on as well!
So after K and I ran about pretending to be horses for an hour, I headed over to H's to get ready for our lesson. I was distraught because Moon and I have barely ridden since our last show, and certainly what we have ridden hasn't been anything resembling serious training.
NOT how I like going into another show. I keep reminding myself that I didn't sign up for this one in order to do great, but rather for exposure and a good time with friends. I was debating scratching from the x-rail class (there's a lot of hunter-jumper people going), but K reminded me that A. You can do it all at trot, and B. It's all for fun. So I'm doing it!
The arena was a big quick-sand pit in spots, so W had us trying to stay on the rail or on one half of the ring. As I said, it had been raining LOTS.
Automatically she said that Moon was moving better and stretching down. Back almost where we were when we left. We did some leg yielding and W confirmed what I've always kinda known...I don't follow my own "Ask, Tell, Demand, Reprimand" rule. When Moon ignores my leg, I just keep asking gently, over and over. And he keeps ignoring me.
Yup, I need to find some balls, and actually give him a correction. It's not him, it's me.
So I finally bucked up and gave him a couple kicks when he ignored me, and suddenly, there he was, leg yielding properly! Finally!
It seemed to be the theme of the lesson...
Having looked at the pictures from the horse show, I was telling Wendy how I feel like I often post on my toes, and really feel like MY position is screwing things up.
W spent a good 25 minutes with me just working on position.
It's amazing. A year ago when Moon and I started together, she told me that the process takes longer because we have to train me, then train him, then train me, then train him. And we have to fix him, fix me, fix him, then fix me.
Wednesday was all about fixing me.
I can ride fine. Sit the trot well, post properly, legs long and loose, all of that.
Until Moon starts to come unglued.
Suddenly, I go fetal on him.
I lean forward with my upper body, pinch at my legs, brace my calves, bring my legs up, get chicken-arms, hands drop, head stares at his head. Which makes everything worse, he braces back, I brace more, I bounce, pull and everything goes to hell.
So Moon thankfully had a bit of a fit as another horse was being led up the road and another was being loaded to leave. I love how sometimes I just need a voice in my head telling me what I already should know.
"Relax those legs"
"Open your chest. No, don't hollow, open. Relax"
"Stop forcing your heels down. Let them flow"
"Open your arms. No, wider."
"Sit the trot, and one-two-one-two"
"Hands up! Lift them!"
"Inside leg. No, following, not pushing. Yes, like that. Breathe"
And so on, and so forth.
As we went in circles, it was ridiculous. I could often catch it moments before W said anything. Those flapping arms. Those braced legs. It's just so instinctual. It's habitual. It's all about muscle memory and reprogramming.
W worked me back to a proper position where I was suddenly posting within my saddle, instead of up and out of it. I gained a closer contact with my horse, an easier ability to communicate and things began to flow.
As we circled, he actually brought his head down and was moving like a nice little dressage horse. Over his back. Stretching down into my hands. Moving in nice circles, not collapsing in.
When we finally stopped, I was thrilled. This meant that his training, is progressing still. He's learning to move how I want him to. NOW, I need to spend some time focusing on me, and what *I* do when I get tense. We spent a long time teaching Moon to change what *he* does when he gets tense, time for me to change too.
I was really proud of him. And of me. It's a long road. It's a slow road. But we're still moving forward. And I gotta admit, I have a little faith that by the fall, we'll get there. Where's there? A decent walk-trot score with a lot of 6's, and maybe a go at Training level. : )
The best part of the whole ride, was that Moon's back cut had healed enough I could ride in a saddle again! And after our lesson, it was still healed up! Yippee! I miss my saddle! Which means I can finally hit the trails again!!!
Yesterday I met up with C, and her and I went to visit T and her ponies. I learned that one had passed away a week ago from a heart attack, while running with the herd in the pasture. So sad. : ( Made me think of Hickstead, as they were almost the same age. And suddenly I just wanted to go hug Mr. Moon!
It was nice seeing all the ponies again and so many have grown up since I was there last. A couple of the 4 year olds really grew over the winter and are nice heights for riding horses. : ) T also got herself a good packer for the trails, a cute Paint that I think she'll be really happy with. Very soft, sweet mare. : )
We stayed and yapped well into the evening and then loaded up the jumps to haul back to Hil's. By that point another storm had rolled in and it was starting to rain. Oh joy.
I dropped C off and then unloaded the jumps. I contemplated grabbing Moon (it was just misting at that time) and going for a little ride over them....But of course, it was already 9 pm, more rain was on its way, Moon was in a wet blanket and the ponies still needed dinner.
Got everyone fed, stuffed hay bales into muddy nets and then was happy to crawl back into the warm truck to head for home. Since it was already 10 pm. Seems lately I've had a lot of late nights, and really look forward to things being "normal" again. Of course, that won't happen until the end of show season...
Next Tuesday I'm picking rocks and doing a BBQ for the IRC, Wednesday is lesson night so I'll probably hack out to the park, Thursday K and I are riding our Ker, and then Friday, it's time to haul to the show! So unprepared!!!!
I *did* pull some more of Moon's mane. I need to go a bit shorter as it gets pretty long in the middle, but it's looking very neat and tidy. : ) I'm kinda glad I did it, though it's going to be a hectic time.
Hope everyone else is having great horse-rides!