I am going to start with this week’s photo challenge “Summer Lovin“. Here is my entry this week:
The instructions tell me to show you something I love. Well, I love a lot of things. I love my son, my husband, my dogs, cats, parents, sisters, nephews, my job…you get the idea. I decided that since this blog is about riding, I may as well try to find a picture that captures what I love in relation to something related to horses. This is one of my favorite pictures of my son riding Sox. He’s actually smiling and laughing and enjoying himself here (of course, Sox doesn’t look nearly as enthusiastic, but he never really does). It also was during the time that we were still taking lessons together. I think his lesson was over. He was really starting to make some progress in his posting trot that day and was excited. It’s really hot here in FL and my son is not the most athletically inclined, so when he said he didn’t want to ride anymore and was having less & less fun because of the heat – I didn’t want to force him, so I let him stop riding. He didn’t love it like I do and that’s ok. He still loves going to the barn, and that’s good enough for me. ❤
Ok. So onto the horsey stuff. I had a lesson on Wednesday and worked as my friend’s groom on Thursday. Sox was on fire Wednesday – full of GO GO GO!!! He wanted to canter everywhere and do it FAST. So, I worked a lot on my half-halts. Turns out, I need more work on that. Wednesday was a jumping day! I cantered the jumps! On purpose. Well, the first time not so much, but after that – totally. I told my friend that I had accidentally cantered up to the jumps, but not intentionally, so she decided we should do just that. And what was cool to me was the fact that it meant I had to canter a smallish circle to get to the jump, but I wasn’t nervous! My small circles were better than my attempt around the whole arena earlier in the lesson!
Speaking of cantering around the arena – I had a much better time on what is usually my bad side today! I almost couldn’t get it at all on my “good” side! Going to the left, I am usually able to pick it right up even though that is Sox’s bad side, but not Wedneday. Nope. I’d get a few strides and then he’d stop. Because I was off-balance or pinching. Or especially yanking on his face. I could not get my arms in sync with the horse’s motion. But to the right? That’s Sox’s good side, so as long as I ask correctly, he can pick it up – but usually I can’t sit right when I ask but this day, I was on fire! I made it all the way around on my first try! And it felt good. I had a good transition back down to trot and the one time he started to slow down like he was going to stop, I was able to apply a little leg and keep him going!
Now, if I could only duplicate that at will more often!! Anyway, my small circles up to the jumps really weren’t scary at all. I was nervous in my mind, but not too bad (surprisingly). And all I had to do was think about transitioning to canter and Sox was there already. During the jump, I was having a lot of trouble getting/keeping my hands up high enough on Sox’s neck. I kept wanting to bury them in the saddle. He really stretches that long neck out over the jump and I know I caught him in the mouth a few times. I know what happens (why I get nervous – burying my hands is a sign of nervousness in me) – he picks up speed getting to the jump. He’s excited and I am not confident in my ability to slow him down without getting in his way (and subsequently killing us or something horrible). But we worked on slowing him down, at least leading UP to the jump, because as soon as we landed on the other side, it was like Sox was reliving his cross-country days and was galloping to the next jump. Oh. My. Goodness. SO. FAST. lol. 🙂 It would feel completely exhilarating for a few seconds and then my worrying conscience would kick and say something to freak me out like “Aren’t we going a little fast ??” and then I would wreck it. But feeling the wind in my face & hearing it whip by, was pretty cool. One day, I will get to fully enjoy that.
I did finally get him to stop running up to the jump and finally we were able to get a more steady, even pace up to the jump. The last 3 jumps were much more controlled leading up to the jump and the last jump was actually pretty well controlled after the landing. He was picking up speed, but I was able to give him a small “woah” and half-halt and I let him canter a few strides and then asked for the trot and then actually let him have time to make the transition. I also made sure to better follow his movements after the jump. The first bunch of times, I was just stressing out because we were going so fast. I wasn’t telling him to slow down, but I was resisting all of his movement by tensing up. Once I was able to tell my stupid body to stop doing that and actually land the jump and intentionally canter away, things got easier.
I know I need to challenge myself like that more often. It feels SO GREAT when I do and we have even the tiniest bit of success. I also know that since the last time I fell off Sox, I have been more reluctant to challenge myself. Because I was challenging myself that day. I have really wimped out lately in terms of how much and how hard I will work on the canter when I am riding on my own. I was doing really, really well with cantering a lot on my own, until I fell. I know that the riding I am doing is still helping and is making a difference, but I know I can do more. I finally realized how little I am challenging myself on my own after this week’s lesson. I don’t mean I should start jumping on my own or anything, but I really need to suck it up and go for that canter. I need to master this. Well, it would take thousands of rides to technically “master” it, but I need to get my canter ability up a few notches to where I’m no longer receiving instructions on how to do it, but rather I want to be at the level where I receive instruction on ways to make it better.
Grooming was fun and I am looking forward to next week’s lesson & groom session. The plan is to push myself a little bit more on my own this week. I only have 2 more weeks left in my summer. I can’t believe it is almost over. I will keep riding and posting, but probably less frequently.