Yet another makeup lesson this past Saturday because weather did not cooperate last Tuesday evening. My lesson on Saturday was interesting. I was in with the usual "senior" riders who also happen to be beginners. I sort of liked being with riders my own age. :-) They have had about 7 or 8 lessons and are at the stage where they are learning to lope. Gem had not had much time outside on Friday due to the extreme mud conditions caused by the balmy +10C weather that melted lots of snow - it was like Spring!! He was raring to go on Saturday and a joy to ride. Here's what was really cool about Saturday's lesson - LA used me as an example throughout the lesson....and in a good way!!
"You'll notice that Wolfie is wearing spurs. She's able to wear them because her legs are quiet...."
"See how Wolfie's heels are down...."
"Wolfie is posting on the correct diagonal..."
"Notice the tension that Wolfie has on her reins...."
"That was a nice departure..."
"Wolfie is on the correct lead...."
How cool is that?!! A first for me. It was a boost to my confidence and my ego. :-)
Our lesson was not canceled last evening. It was freezing! Temperature was only around -11C, but I guess not having ridden in the evening for a while has made me soft. :-) I arrived a little early and , as usual, as I walked down the aisle, I asked "Where is my beautiful boy?" He popped is head around the corner of his stall and we greeted each other with sniffing and blowing. Then he started pushing me and mouthing my clothing. He fussed when I tried to put the halter on him - he kept biting it. He tried to rush me a bit when I opened his stall door. He was fidgety when I was grooming him. I could tell that lesson was going to be a bit of a challenge. Saturday we were back to -2C, so everything that melted on Friday turned into frozen mud and ice rinks. He has not had his usual long turnout time the last few days due to these icy, treacherous conditions and he was cranky.
So, what comes up must come down. Saturday we were a good example. Last night, not so much. He was not focused, he didn't want to jog, he was being a bit of a brat. Usually, I can just squeeze gently as I kiss the air to get him moving, but last night he ignored my requests and I had to start kicking to get his attention. When he finally did respond to my requests to jog, I managed to move him up to a pretty nice posting trot a couple of times.
Then we moved on to loping. I watched my classmates breeze around the arena; once, twice, large circles, small circles. Sigh. Now it's our turn. Our departures are fabulous if I do say so myself. From a standstill, he sort of floats in the air and takes off. Lovely. It's keeping him moving that can sometimes be the issue. Last night, he would slow down to a trot before we had completed the circle. We tried it again and again. We fought every time we loped. I push, I kick, he tells me to go fly a kite. I was beginning to feel like I was in Groundhog Day.
I did manage to get him to complete a full circle of the arena. My turn came up again way too quickly. I hadn't even caught my breath from the previous run. LA handed me a dressage whip. Gem saw the whip and there was a subtle change in his manner. I started off on my run. My goal this time was to go around twice - yes, to reach the goal I had set for myself a few months ago! With my classmates cheering me on and LA yelling instructions, I pushed and pinched and kicked my way around the arena (I did not use the whip). Every time he started to slow down, I pinched with my legs or kicked him on. I don't think my legs were very quiet. :-) We went around once without slowing to a trot and we were well on our way to completing the second round. It was within my reach....the crowd was roaring.... I started to smile.....the last bend was coming up fast.....and then as we started around it, Gem made a sharp turn into the middle and stopped dead. The turn and stop were so abrupt, that I lost my stirrups and almost went over his head, but the saddle horn in my gut and a hand on the crest of his neck stopped me from being catapulted from the saddle. I was about 6 feet short of my goal. Crap. Missed it by that much!!
I was exhausted. My legs were screaming. LA was kind enough to tell me that I had done a good job and I should take this as a win. She said riding Gem is like riding two horses and the fact that I was able to keep him moving was an accomplishment. She admitted that she has to really get on his case quite regularly to keep him loping five or six times around the arena. My jaw dropped. "You lope him five or six times around the arena?", I asked. "Yep." Cripes, LA must be friggin Super Woman.
I was stiff when I got home. The vodka soda I had last evening was the most delicious I have ever had. :-)
So, not a stellar performance by the Wolfie/Gem team last night and certainly not the shining example we were on Saturday. But you know what makes me smile? The fact that I was able to work through resistance and repeatedly convince a 1300 lb animal to move....and to move quickly. Yes, me! How cool is that?!!
What was I thinking....?