I had a lesson on Saturday. This week, we were smarter and started much earlier so it wouldn’t be as hot, but as luck would have it, the whole weekend was cooler in general – with highs only in the 80’s! Saturday’s lesson went pretty well. My trainer told me that she saw a lot of improvement in my trot and a little improvement in my canter. My jumping is coming along nicely too. We worked more on my elbows this lesson. Keeping them bent, keeping them loose and able to follow the horse while still maintaining a light contact. I have come a long way in terms of contact with Sox’s mouth. I know he used to hate seeing me because I was one of those newbies pulling on his mouth. I didn’t mean to, and I would try not to, but I know I did. I finally don’t do that anymore (at least not often), thank goodness.
We did a bit of work with some poles on the ground, working on my circles too. I tend to make ovals or eggs – definitely not circles. The arena was freshly dragged just before I rode for my lesson, so it was much easier to see the shapes I was making in the sand. By the end of the lesson, my circles were rounder, yet still far from a real circle. We started Saturday with trotting, sitting the trot, and in two-point. I am so glad to have the summer to ride more so I can build some strength in my poor muscles. I was certainly feeling it when I was done going around the arena for my second lap in two-point. We ended the lesson with some jumping, which went pretty well. I was a little behind the movement the first jump or two, but quickly was able to correct it with some pointers from my trainer. Keep those shoulders pulled back and head up – I have a tendency to drop my shoulders, which rounds out my back and puts me in the worst position. We set up some cones after the jump so I could practice staying straight and then halting between the last two. It went well.
Today I began my lease!!! I was so excited! Sox was a bit reluctant at first – I think he was thinking that I only saw him two days ago, so what the heck was I doing back out at the barn?! We tacked up with no problems and got started. I rode for an hour and remembered to wear my watch so I could make sure we took plenty of breaks. It was warmer today than on Saturday, but I was there early enough that the heat wasn’t unbearable. I asked my trainer what she thought I should work on before I got in the arena. She told me obviously I should work on my posting and two point, but she really wants me to build my confidence in the canter. She told me that I am pretty solid in everything else but my canter. (Solid meaning where she expects me to be skill wise at this point in my training).
So after a warm up, we started in on some trotting in circles. There was a jump set up with some trot poles in front of it that made a nice square, so I used that for the base of my circle. The arena was dragged this morning, so I was again able to see my tracks. I think we did ok. I worked a bit on my two-point and did a lap around each direction of the arena. I also practiced my sitting trot, which is finally coming along alright. I did a little with no stirrups, and then a little more with the stirrups. I finally feel like I understand what my body is supposed to do so I can correct myself when I start really bouncing around.
I was originally pretty nervous to try cantering on my own. This would be the very first time I cantered with no one physically in the arena with me to make sure I was doing it right. I decided to just go for it and I didn’t die! We had a little trouble getting going at first. Sox has two modes: very energetic and lots of go when asking for the canter; and not very energetic when asking to do anything, even the canter. Today was a less energetic day, so the first time I asked for canter, he just started trotting faster. I came to a halt, picked up the trot and asked again. Two more times we did that before the fourth time, in which he went right into a nice canter as soon as I asked. We made a whole lap around the arena on that go. The next few were a little better, but we didn’t always make it all the way around the arena. I also have to work on my down transition so I can go from canter to trot and not canter to slooooooow walk. We went in both directions around the arena several times and the last lap was definitely the best.
I walked him out for a while and then I gave him a bath with his special medicated shampoo. He has some itchies on his face and part of his mane we are trying to take care of. I got soaked giving him a bath. When I went to rinse the very top of his head, he started to freak out a bit. He seemed like he was getting ready to totally freak out, which is rather unlike him, and I called for my trainer because I usually get pretty nervous when they start getting really jumpy when they are in the cross-ties. She was in the bathroom apparently, and didn’t hear me. The horses I usually ride don’t normally freak out, but the last time one of the horses there spooked with me in the bath area, he ended up bolting and breaking the pole he was tied to, which also broke the water pipe and it was a fiasco. Once I realized my trainer hadn’t heard me, I realized I had to manage this on my own. I reminded myself that everything was fine…and I was able to calm him back down and finish rinsing him. I also shared my gatorade with him, which made him quite happy at the end.
After I was done with Sox, I also took Lily out and groomed her. She is an arab-quarterhorse mix pony that I just adore. She is about 8 years old, belongs to the barn owner’s husband, but is not ridden because she is super spooky with a rider. She is a little spooky on the ground, but easier to manage. She was a doll for me. I just love her personality – she’s super affectionate and so pretty. She was an absolute mess. So much shedding, and so much dirt! I will give her a bath the next time I am out there, but for today I curried the heck out of her and I combed out her tail.
My first day of my lease went great, and I am super excited to go back out two more times this week!!