Ugh. It was HOT today. When I got in my car to leave the barn today, the car thermostat read 96! It wasn’t near that hot when my lesson started at 1030, but I definitely felt the temperature rise while I was riding. I was not prepared either – I only had one large bottle of water and one small bottle of gatorade. When it was last this hot, I used to also have a frozen bottle of water that I put in the cooler to keep my other two drinks cold, and to drink after those two were gone. I haven’t needed them over the winter and so I forgot to pack appropriately for the heat today. On top of that, I forgot that the new medication I am on for my RA has a side effect of increased sensitivity to the sun. I have been good since I started the medicine about wearing sunscreen, although I haven’t really been out in the sun much. Today, I totally forgot ALL of that and am very sunburned because of it. Which is surprising since 1 hour riding and maybe 1/2 hour outside hosing off/grazing doesn’t usually even begin to give me a tan. Then, I got stepped on today. My baby toe is still sore, and I am surprised it happened at all as Sox doesn’t usually invade my space like that, but I guess he was very done with his hosing down and wanted to get to the yummy grass for some grazing. It was a light step, luckily, and he got off right away, but damn. A slew of bad words came out of my mouth rather quickly and unexpectedly, for which I apologized to those around me for immediately. I was told that when a horse steps on you, the rules of what is proper to say are ignored and all is acceptable. 😉
Anyway, the lesson today, although hot as hell, went rather well. We didn’t push too hard because of the heat, and also because my trainer’s 10am lesson was late and we were tacked up and both ready to go at 1030. So we compromised and did a sort of group lesson for a half hour and then I had my trainer all to myself for the last half hour. There were lots more breaks than usual, again, due to the heat. My trainer had planned on extended canter work today, but it was simply too hot for that. Instead, I did a good lap and a half around the arena from a good trot-canter transition and was actually pretty solid in my seat, my arms and my posture, so we left the canter at that until next week (when I ride 1.5 hours earlier). I trotted around a bit today, working on keeping my elbows loose and not throwing my hands down toward the ground while trying to keep them flexible and my elbows bent. We also worked on keeping my shoulders relaxed, but my back straight. She told me to imagine an arrow was piercing my sternum, pushing it upwards. Not stick-your-boobs-out, but bring your chest up and out. I did ok with that today – with several reminders, of course.
We also practiced some two-point over some trot poles, followed up with some jumping. Same trot poles and two-point, but first over a small crossrail, then we switched the cross-rail for an 18-inch vertical. The first jump over, I was all over the place! First, I fell behind the horse and then I came down all wonky on his neck, and we were not close to straight out of the jump. The second time was vastly better. I haven’t jumped all that much, and the last time was two weeks ago, so I guess the first jump was an “Oh ya – that’s what jumping feels like” kind of moment for me. All that practice with my chest up/out and shoulders back definitely helped and my knees, ankles and hips are getting looser and less stiff. The middle couple jumps were ok, but the last 2 or 3 jumps were the best I have done yet. I know there is a long way to go until they would be technically classified as “good” jumps, but for me, they were my best yet. I felt what I was supposed to feel and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t have the total adrenaline dump that I normally have when I jump. Heck, I used to get that going into a canter, or over trot poles, so my confidence is definitely getting better.
Speaking of confidence, I don’t know when I gained some, but I definitely have. I know I can’t do a lot of things well, but I also know I am good enough to have a good chance of staying ON the horse if something wonky were to happen. My balance is certainly there and my seat is coming along and I don’t yank on poor Sox’s face all the time anymore (which I can tell he appreciates). I am still working on staying relaxed in my body and loose in my joints and I still need to increase my body awareness when it comes to the positioning of my legs. I can’t always tell that my legs have slipped a little forward until it’s bad enough that I fall behind the horse’s motion in a noticeable way. But I can tell sometimes and I suppose it will get better from here.
I ride again next Friday morning, and then the Monday after that, I begin my half-lease! I am so excited. I am trying to get a plan of what to do when I ride without someone telling me what we are doing next. I have some ideas and I think I will have my trainer help me set up some trot poles as well as some cones marking out a decent circle. I will probably save any canter work for my lessons, and definitely save jumping for lessons, at least for the beginning. I also plan to ask my trainer what she thinks I should work on between lessons.
I am super tired – being in the hot, hot Florida sun this morning totally drained me, so until next week, happy riding!!