Two of my classmates were mounted on horses that had careers as competitive reining horses. I am not sure of the background of the third horse, but it’s pretty obvious that he has had lots of training – he’s being used as a lesson horse to pay off some outstanding board bills, I believe. My classmates seemed to breeze through lesson on their trusty steeds, smooth as silk.
While Gem and I make an attractive looking team, our performance sometimes are not always attractive. :-) Lesson this week was one of those examples. The first order of the day was to practice neck reining. LA had us neck rein turning on the haunches. Gem and I have been practicing (with two hands) and we struggled through this portion of the lesson. It wasn't smooth, but I thought that we were finally getting it and working together. He wasn't walking off as much and we actually had a couple of good cross-overs. So, what did my classmates do??? Not only did they neck rein and turn on haunches, they SPUN their horses. Yep, they did spins. Sigh.
To help us learn how to steer at a lope, we were asked to lope a circle using only half of the arena. Within that circle, ovals were made, always going in the same direction - circle, oval, circle, oval, repeat, repeat. The goal for my classmates was to neck rein the changes in pattern, bending the horse’s head in the direction he was to go in, all the while keeping their butts in the saddle and maintaining speed. My classmates did a great job. It was wonderful to watch how fluid their movements were and it showed how far Jean and BF have come with their riding skills. Gem and I are still working on neck reining, so we didn't have to one-hand it. :-)
Here’s basically what my classmates' pattern looked like:
This is what our pattern looked like.
Gem: (shaking head) WTH are you asking me to do???
Me: I want you to go that way.
Gem: Then get your inside leg out of me!
LA: Lower your hands!
Gem: Stop pulling on me!!
Me: I don't mean to! I am all confused!
LA: Push him on! Don't let him slow down!
Gem: What do you want????
Me: I want you to keep loping.
LA: Left! Left! No, the other left!
Gem: Would you just decide what direction you want to go already?!!!
Me: Stop interrupting me! I am trying to concentrate on keeping my heels down, my butt in the saddle, operating the reins and doing the pattern.
Gem: That would be multi-tasking and right now you are doing a lousy job.
Me: You're right.
Gem slowed down to a trot a number of times during our routine and I had to push him back up to a lope. He showed his frustration with me with a lot of head tossing. We were not smooth as silk, we were more like lumpy mashed potatoes.
I was exhausted after our first attempt! My legs were starting to feel like jelly. My gut hurt! As we caught our breath and watched the others have another go at the pattern, I realized I was actually a little embarrassed at how poor my performance was compared to my classmates. They made it look so easy! That nasty little fellow Insecurity tried to whisper something in my ear.... but I shook him off.
LA gave me a little pep talk before we started our second round:
LA: I want you to just do a small circle. No pattern. Outside rein has contact on his neck and I want you to open up your inside rein as you lope to keep his head slightly bent to the inside. Keep him moving. I don't want you to think of anything else.
Off we went. The second round was much better. I didn't think about my heels. I didn't think about keeping my butt in the saddle. I didn't think about making a perfect circle. And, I didn't have to think about what the pattern was. Gem still did some head tossing and he wasn't pleased when I assertively requested that he keep loping. In spite of his resistance, we managed to do a couple of small circles at a lope! And, I stayed in the saddle! :-) I felt much better after the second round; not smooth as silk, but more like whipped potatoes instead of lumpy mashed.
Insecurity tried to join us at Burger and Beers, but I resisted letting him sit with us. :-) I have been left with homework. I am to practice loping small circles and at a walk I am to practice turning using neck reining. Yep.....I'll get right on that....soon....real soon... as soon as I can move without pain.....Now, where's my vodka soda???...
What was I thinking.....?