Before I begin recounting my lesson today, I will first tell you it was awesome as I was firmly told by my instructor who takes me regularly that my ride last Tuesday was not as bad as I'd made out here so even if she doesn't read the whole blog, at least she knows that I know it was a good lesson today. And I also know that people who I don't think read this, actually do and take notice of what I say.
I maintain, as I told my instructor, that even though she may have thought it was good last week, I slipped in my confidence and was exhausted as I informed all of you lovely people. But today, was a different story. :)
It was a bit of a windy but sunny morning and I arrived to a quiet stable yard. There was only my instructor and myself there today. We collected my tall white friend's tac and headed for his stable. I was shown how to remove his rug first of all today and then I brushed his whole body, receiving further tips on brushing from the face backward, always brushing in the direction of the fur.
I was much more awake this morning and can now clearly remember how to place a bridle upon our lovely friends.
- 1. Pull the reins over the horse's head, holding the bridle in your left hand, making sure they are nestled on his neck, [horses can snap their reins very easily].
- 2. Firmly grip the top of his nose with your right hand, placing your arm under his neck while standing by his left shoulder, and pass the two cheek pieces to your right hand.
- 3. Feed the bit into his mouth with your left hand, if he won't open his mouth for you, gently push your thumb into the gap in his teeth, at the corner of his mouth to encourage him to open it.
- 4. Once the bit as been taken into his mouth by keeping a good grip on the cheek pieces, so the bit doesn't fall out, pull the head band over his ears, one at a time, starting with the near ear first and then the far one. The ears bend but being nice to your horse should go without saying.
- 5. Pull his forelock out of the brow band and make sure all bands are straight and nothing is twisted or out of place.
- 6. Fasten the throat lash and nose bands. There should be 2 fingers width on the nose band from his cheek and four fingers should fit between his jaw and the throat lash.
7. Make sure the reins are straight and the horse is all ready to go. Minus his saddle at this point.
I covered doing the saddle last time and I did it again this morning with a few more learning curves. The stirrups on the saddle usually have a twist in the straps when I ride him so my challenge, while my instructor was locking up, was to set my own stirrups to the length I need them. I did absolutely fine on this minus the fact I clearly couldn't count this morning. I usually have holes down and a twist, but on my left stirrup I ended up with three holes. Never mind. ;)
I mounted, using the mounting block, [he's tall, not like the little mare I rode on Saturday]. And we walked off on our lesson.
He decided today, he was going to test me as usual but my instructor had a surprise for us both. We had to do a few exercises to keep both of our attentions on the ride. I had to trot him straight away and then stop him with as little walk as possible and then straight into a trot again. The first few times, he'd walk a little when I asked him to stop and I discovered why. I have to sit back more when asking him to stop and not put my heels on which for some reason I was doing. This improved once it was pointed out to me.
I also learnt that I need to sometimes check my length of my reins by holding my hands together and seeing which is longer or shorter and which feels like I have the best contact. I was soon feeling that much easier.
My leg work is coming along nicely, I have to put the heel more on to get a better result as I was merely using my calf.
My trotting today was amazing! I was told it was very controlled and looked great. That was fab as I know it has been the hardest thing for me as a gait to learn. I know I talk about my struggles with cantering but that is more my own tension and silly habits. Adjusting to rising and falling in the horse's rhythm is a daunting task for many new riders but I have to say I sincerely enjoy rising trot now.
Cantering. Well! I am sincere in saying this, my instructor that I have today is so good, better than I think she knows because when she explains something to me, it seems to click relatively quickly. I had a few good weeks cantering, as those of you who regularly read my blogs know, but I've had a few not so good canters or attempts recently and today I discovered why.
Remember my crazy hand aerobatics from when I was learning rein and leg movement? That's appeared in cantering, I was splaying my hands like some mad woman today and had clearly neglected to remember that was never going to do me any favours. So that was corrected and I know where that's come from. Being a massage therapist, I know how the human body works pretty well in regards to tension and I know, my body's going into a fight or flight situation during my cantering attempts at the moment. My tension is causing me to do things I know are never going to get a good canter. I was also leaning forward, yes, I know, that's a "no, No" to. Shoulders back and all that. I can rhyme off to all of you what I know I need to do.
- 1. Relax and enjoy and do not think of failing.
- 2. Heels down, all weight into those heels!
- 3. Hands low and forward. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT PULL BACK ON THE HORSE!!!! That sends a huge mixed signal.
- 4. Heavy in seat.
- 5. Shoulders back.
- 6. Leg on.
- 7. Move in rhythm with your horse.
See? But my body, probably due to my own lack of confidence now of being able to do it and tension, is doing everything but. Although I only lost one stirrup once one time today out of four attempts so that's better.
Once we'd worked on my crazy and peculiar new habits, I managed to canter him for a few strides and felt much better.
Speaking to my instructor honestly helped as she assured me that all riders lose confidence in certain things at some point or another, it's about carrying on and trying to resolve your lack of confidence that will make you a better rider. I know that I didn't get a good strong canter from my lovely equine friend today but I know I'm improving and will strive to do better in Thursday's lesson.
I do believe my ride away from my lessons helped me to see how much I've learnt in the past year or so and that encouraged me to know that actually, I am growing into a horse rider and have the basic skills I can work on to get better. I know, I will forever learn on every horse I ride from now until the day I never ride again, and I love that about horses. We never stop learning! There's always something new to achieve.
I will honestly say that I have learnt so much today that I didn't think possible. About new skills, about where I'm going wrong but above all else, what I have learnt so far.
Thanks for reading as always,
Until Next time,