Friday, June 26, 2009

Fourth lesson with Christine

My fourth lesson with Christine was last night and hopefully, I can remember it well enough to describe it. I'm suffering a little from what I think might be a dehydration headache this morning. I really need to remember to drink during my lesson and drink even more afterwards. Anyway...

Foxfire came with me to my lesson last night, which was really nice. He also took pictures of me riding. I'll post some of them once he's downloaded them to my computer. (I really should learn how to do that myself.) I rode Meshack again since Christine let me choose. I suppose as I get more comfortable riding, I should ride Will occasionally, simply to get the experience of riding another horse.

Anyway, we started out walking as usual, but didn't go very far before we went into posting trot. I think we did a few downward transitions at this point, but I don't really remember. Maybe I'm getting familiar enough with them, that I don't really think about them any more. Hopefully, that's a good thing. Then we did some sitting trot. I think I'm finally getting the hang of the sitting trot. Oh I still have a long ways to go, but at least I don't feel like I'm just bouncing around on the horse's back anymore. I actually feel like I'm moving with him... most of the time. I still get out of sync and bounce occasionally. And I'm sure that as I practice it more, I can get even smoother movement with the horse, but I'm pretty happy with the progress that I've made. Of course, Meshack doesn't exactly have a huge trot, so we'll have to wait and see what happens the first time I try to sit a trot on a bigger, bouncier horse. I'm afraid it will be very "interesting". We did some downward transitions from the sitting trot which, as usual, didn't work as well as from the posting trot. I think I'm making some progress, but it's not terribly obvious.

I think we did a couple of trot circles (my memory of last night's lesson really isn't as clear as it ought to be, sorry), and then Christine asked if I wanted to try and canter a bit. She offered to let me do it in the arena, but I think she saw the fear in my eyes, and so she suggested that we do it in the round pen. Once in the round pen, we worked on getting a fast trot from Meshack and then asked him to canter. It was a little difficult to get him to canter, but not too bad. And in this case, it is probably completely my fault since I really don't know how to ask for a canter and sit it properly yet, and so I'm probably confusing Meshack with mixed signals. Anyway, he finally went into canter and it was actually a lot easier to ride than his fast trot. When Christine told me to slow him down, I really didn't want to. I was actually enjoying cantering. I probably wasn't doing it very well, but I wasn't scared. But I listened to Christine and slowed him back to trot and then we changed directions in order to canter on the other lead. At this point, the lesson started to go downhill.

Admittedly, this second direction was Meshack's weaker lead, but I think most, if not all, of the problem was mine. I just couldn't get Meshack to go into canter and when I finally got a canter, it felt like he was going to run me into the fence so I got a little scared. This time when Christine told me to slow to trot, I was relieved. We switched directions again to go back to Meshack's better side. But now I was having just as much trouble on this side as I had had on the other. I did get another canter, but it was awkward and felt subtly wrong to me. At this point, Christine figured that both Meshack and I had had enough of cantering so we went back into the arena and worked on trot circles again.

I guess I was tired or dehydrated or over-heated or something, but I was having a lot of trouble just getting Meshack to go where I wanted him to go at the speed I wanted him to go. Christine suggested "clucking" to Meshack rather than just kicking him harder (Sorry Meshack). But despite trying to "cluck", "kiss" and make other encouraging noises, I couldn't seem to make quite the right sound. I finally just started saying, "trot" and that worked. But it made me feel bad to have to resort to vocal cues. And my steering was off as well. My trot circles were even less circular than the first time I tried them. Also, Christine said that I needed to work on keeping my hands more stable at the trot. They were moving up and down too much. On a more positive note, my downward transitions were working better than usual. (I think Meshack was tired as well.) I finally got one decent circle and Christine decided that was a good place to end the lesson. I agreed.

It WAS hot that evening. The thermometer in Ryan's car read 104 on the way to the lesson and 103 on the way home. So I suppose I could blame my problems near the end of the ride on the heat. But it was probably just me getting tired and being careless about keeping hydrated. I still feel like I learned a lot. And sometimes you learn more from when things don't work out right than when everything goes the way it's supposed to. Though, at the time, it can be rather frustrating. I do wonder if part of my problem with remembering the lesson may relate to being dehydrated or overheated during the lesson. When the body is stressed, the mind doesn't work as well.

However, there was a fairly amusing addendum to the lesson. On the way home, Foxfire told me that when I was having trouble getting Meshack to trot, Christina had leaned over to him and told him,"Teach your wife how to cluck." So as we were driving, Foxfire was trying to teach me to "cluck". For some reason, I just couldn't seem to make the right sound, and things degenerated into us just making silly noises at each other. After a significant amount of rampant silliness, I finally did figure out how to "cluck" properly. So hopefully, the next time I need to "cluck" at a horse, I'll be able to do it properly. :-)

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