Thursday, June 18, 2009

Third lesson with Christine (and a mild scare with Ziggy)

Well, tonight was my third lesson with Christine. I had been having sort of a bad day and was tense and nervous. I warned Christine that I might not do very well that night. She said that we all have off days, but that she was sure I'd do fine. She let me choose which lesson horse to ride, so I chose Meshack since I seem to have a better connection with him. I mounted up, then took a few seconds to do some deep breathing to try and relax before starting the lesson.

We started with some walk/halt transitions to re-enforce that all important ability to stop your horse with your seat and not just with the reins. I seem to be doing a bit better than previously, but still need to work on being clearer with my "stop" cue. While we were still walking, Christine had me do something that seemed a bit unusual to me, but that I'm sure has a purpose. (I really should learn to actually ASK QUESTIONS during my lesson.) Christine had me state, "now" every time Meshack's inside hind foot hit the ground. Then she had me do it for his inside front foot, outside hind foot and outside front foot. Surprisingly, I got it right every time. It's the first thing about riding that I've actually gotten right, right away. I wish I knew what it was for.

After that, we did some posting trot with downward transitions to walk. That went pretty well, though again, I still need to work on it. Finally we did some sitting trot to both practice my sitting trot and to practice downward transitions from the sitting trot. I have a lot harder time slowing him with my seat at the sitting trot. I think that from posting trot it's very obvious to the horse when I stop posting and ask for a downward transition. But when I'm sitting the trot, my cue just isn't very clear. He did slow down, but it took a lot longer and wasn't as clean. Hopefully, as I get better at sitting the trot, my cues from the sitting trot will get clearer.

As for the sitting trot itself, I think I am improving. I'm still bouncing around a bit, but at one point, for about 10 strides, I seemed to get it right. I felt like I was moving with the horse and didn't feel like I was bouncing around. Of course, it didn't last. I fell out of sync and went back to bouncing. but at least, I think, I got a feel for what it should be like.

After that, we did some 20 meter circles at the posting trot and then at the sitting trot. My first circle was too small. Apparently, her arena is 20 meters wide and I should have made it big enough to go all the way to the other side. After that, I was making my circles big enough, but I'm pretty sure my circles weren't very circular. However, Christine didn't say anything, and considering that it was my first time doing trot circles, I was pretty pleased. I did have a slight problem with Meshack pulling on the reins, but Christine told me to just give a little tug on the reins and bump him with my inside leg and he'd give, and sure enough he did. He tried to pull on the reins a couple of times more, but I just gave a tug and a bump and he'd quit. And after about the third time, he didn't do it anymore. Once we finished doing circles, we took a few minutes break to let me and Meshack rest a bit, then we moved on to doing trot poles.

Now I've done trot poles a couple of times before on different horses and although their movement did change, it didn't change that much. With Meshack, it was completely different. Not only did his rhythm change drastically, his trot became much bigger and bouncier. It wasn't that apparent the first time we went over, because he tripped over the first poles, fell out of trot and we just walked over the later poles. The second time we went over, his change in rhythm and size of trot took me completely by surprise, and I'm afraid I completely lost rhythm and balance and just bounced around on his back. I was rather embarrassed. But Christine just told me to keep my hands down (they'd flown up when I lost my balance) and to try it again. The third time I went over the trot poles, I wasn't taken by surprise, but I still couldn't adjust to Meshack's change in rhythm and size of trot very well. I didn't lose my balance as badly as previously and my hands only came up a little, but it was still pretty awkward. The forth time I went over, I had begun to get a feel for how his trot would change and did better. I didn't lose my balance and my hands stayed down, but my rhythm was still off. However, Christine apparently thought I had made enough progress (or maybe we were just out of time) and she told me to just walk Meshack cool and that was the end of our lesson.

She told me that she couldn't tell that I was having a bad day because I had actually had a good lesson. She also said that I was making noticeable improvement in each lesson, which made me feel really good. And, actually, I did feel much more relaxed after the lesson than I had before it. We set up another lesson for next Thursday at 7pm. Meanwhile, I had noticed a big handsome gray gelding in the round pen next to the arena and asked her about him. She told me that he had just been brought to her for a tune up and that he would probably be a good horse for me(I perked up), but unfortunately, he wasn't for sale(I un-perked). So we talked briefly about finding the right horse for me. She agreed with The Oracle that age and experience weren't as important as personality and willingness. She said that she did know of a 6 year old, 16.2 hand quarterhorse mare that might suit me, but she hadn't actually tried her out yet. She was going to try her out, and if she liked her, she'd arrange for me to try her out. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

I have been looking at horses the past few months. Most don't make it past the phone call stage, but a couple sounded good enough and were close enough to go check out. The first was a blue roan gelding that I really, REALLY liked, but he was just too green for me. I also went to try out a really beautiful blue roan mare. (I swear I'm not looking for blue roans, two just showed up nearby.) Unfortunately, although she was nice to look at, with really good conformation, a pretty coat color and a long thick mane and tail, she was a very stubborn and difficult horse for anyone except her usual exercise rider to actually ride. Someday, I may get around to writing a post about those horses with some of the pictures I took.

Anyway, that's it for now. It's late, I'm tired, and my husband's horse, Ziggy, is either having a mild colic or his stomach ulcers are acting up, so I'm having to run out and check on him every twenty minutes. Yes, we called the vet, and she said to just keep an eye on him and as long as he didn't go down and thrash around that he would probably be okay. Since he's still up and walking around, and he has both pooped and drunk some water, we're not going to do anything but watch him for now. The last couple of times I checked on him, he still looked a bit uncomfortable, but wasn't showing significant distress, so hopefully, everything will be fine. You can get more information about what happened on my husband's post, "Damn. It." Well... gotta go.

UPDATE ON ZIGGY: This last time that I went to check on him, he was eating hay, and as I watched, he wandered over the the trough, drank a bit, then wandered back to the hay to eat some more. I think whatever the problem was, it's over now. I'll continue to check on him, but I'm relieved that he seems to be doing better.

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