One thing I’m considering right now is that I’m still figuring out how I want to write about my rides, because horses are such an experiential part of my life. There’s so many things my senses are taking in and then responding to before, during, and after time in the saddle. Fingers gauging the tension on leather reins, legs squeezing or brushing or tapping (or kicking) for turns, transitions up to another gait – and down. Adjusting your seat and shoulders and calves and hands to try and convince this animal who is many times bigger than you that moving sideways, in *this* way, is really a super cool idea (although it’s a heck of a lot harder than just going along from a to b). And finally getting that response, the certain bend or stride or jump or give – it feels like magic. Really complicated magic, and usually two strides later either horse will trip or rider will make some hairbrained pilot error, but you laugh and trot on.
How do I capture all that, and oh, maybe make it coherent enough to record what I’ve learned or where I’m at for future reference? I prefer writing in stories, and what’s tended to happen is that by the time I’ve set up my ride recap I’m a few hundred words deep and running out of steam – or I let it set a few days and the ride itself starts blurring… But if I start with my ride, it feels clunky and sterile (although I do get more of an accurate picture of the details that way). I’m just throwing this out there before talking about my lesson (from last week…) because as of late I’m having a lot of ideas swirling and desire to build and enjoy my space here.
Two weeks in a row with a lesson! *cheers* Last Wednesday the weather was fan.freaking.tastic. – low 70s and sunny when I got to the barn before 10:30.
I rode Divine, and had mentally prepared myself for a repeat of our last lesson (two weeks after my ride on Sam the fancy Arabian) where my feeble arms were no match for the G-force pull attached to the bit and all we wanted to do was canter, canter, canter (forever and ever).
Mercifully, this day was completely different! We were in the indoor due to rain turning the outdoor into a muddy mess, and she started off a bit looky at the big east door. First dropping the momentum and then trying to shuffle on past – but as soon as there were exercises for her brain to latch onto she was fine. We started with haunches in both directions. Sink the inside hip, outside hip opens and that leg moves back to direct, shoulders stay straight and don’t pull on the inside rein. — Well, that’s how I remember it at least. Both mare and I are still at pretty much the beginning stages of this, but I could tell she was trying and instructor seemed impressed too. We moved on to shoulder-in – outside leg back a touch, inside leg keeps momentum, and my shoulders shift to the angle we’re looking for. Inside rein stays soft because outside is the one keeping us from rolling right into a circle.
Once we’d done both of those exercises with success on the rail and solid attempts on the quarter lines at a trot, we took a break before moving on to leg yields. Turns out Divine thinks these are fun now and she didn’t blink when we switched around from rail to quarter line, quarter line to center, or the rail to center line. The more she did, the easier it seemed to be getting for her (and me). We took a break and instructor and I talked about what a good work ethic Divine has, but that she’s also to the point where more kids with less experience are able to ride her too.
Side note: I’ve been geeking out over Divine’s lines for a while. How often do you find an OTTB under 20 that’s a granddaughter (not great, or 4 or 5 generations back) of both Mr. Prospector AND Nijinsky?? For a relatively young horse, her family is decidedly ‘old,’ and what her dam line lacks in terms of success, I think is at least somewhat made up for by the number of war horse types I’ve found looking at progeny records on that side. ANYWAYSSS…
After our break we worked on the canter, and tried doing essentially a shoulder-in and haunches-in at that gait on a circle to help Divine with her balance. I’d never really heard of doing this before, but when I was attempting to move her haunches in, there was a point where there was suddenly space under my outside seatbone and it felt like we were more upright than before – it was so cool! We got another short break, and then instructor asked me if I wanted to try and leg-yield at the canter. Why not? We were a bit discombobulated on our first attempt, but the second time around we got a few good steps!
The coolest part though of the whole lesson was right after when I brought her back down to a trot and she felt both feather light and super powerful – I was sitting and not posting, but it just felt like she was swinging me along (as long as I remembered to breathe and not get tense through my weak AF core lol) and I could ask her for a leg yield or transition at any moment and she’d be game for it. Instructor commented on how nice and relaxed she looked, which also was great to hear! We pretty much quit on that, which was plenty to have me grinning ear to ear and ready to stuff a handful of peppermints Divine’s way as soon as I got off.