Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting a saddle blanket wet

First of all: 25 comments? Seriously, people, you've been holding back on me all this time.

Why do I feel like everyone has been dying to tell me to get some lessons but no one would? LOL People. Speak up next time.

There. Lecture done. :)

Honestly though, I know some individuals who read this blog are itching to tell me something but don't want to:
  • a. hurt my feelings (people. I work in politics. Most of the feeling was burned out of me in the first quarter of 1998);
  • b. get stomped on by other commenters who may feel the need to defend me;
  • c. or are just ... chicken.

So, here's the deal. You got something to say that you think can help me, then say it. You don't want it to appear, tell me in the comment (say something like "private" or something) and I will read it and not post it. You don't even have to identify yourself. I may write about it later, but I promise not to out you.

And trust me, you can't hurt my feelings.

Okay, moving on.


TR and I have a lesson scheduled with Dave in a week. I'm not sure who is more excited.

Tonight TR was generous enough to help me on my wet saddle blanket journey and invited me over to work with his horse, Woody, while he rode Lola (Lola is doing well, BTW, the conditioning program he has her on is doing wonders. She didn't stumble once).

We finished off our practice with circle work. I worked on my hands, reins, cantering in circles around a cone - all my circle work had been in a round pen, which is much easier. TR helped me connect the dots and put up with me asking all kinds of stupid questions (yes, there are stupid questions, you just have to try to keep a straight face when people ask them).

For the first time I felt the drop shoulder that was turning my horse because TR spotted just when I did it. I worked on understanding what to do with the reins and when. It was by no means pretty, but it was a baby step forward. I felt a surge of confidence on the canter, the slow and easy one that Woody has, and we just kept working on making the oval a circle.

Never did quite get it. But we were working towards it.

All to soon the sun was fading, the dusty blue sky was deepening to velvet indigo. The light had gone that lovely golden color by the time we rode back to the barn, we switched horses - I was on Lola and TR was on Woody. Woody, who had seemed a perfect gentleman in the pasture with me, started jigging slightly and carrying his head high. Going back to the barn is this horse's only vice. It was the very first thing TR had worked on with him and something that springs back when he's been on pasture vacation. Which he had been since Lola has had TR's conditioning time.

Lola, on the other hand was calm until I asked her not to follow Woody in the barn. We explored all kinds of options until we got to stop. You know how a dog will go through all it's tricks in about 15 seconds to try to earn it's treat? Sort of like that. But I just wanted her to stand still outside the barn for me to get off.

She's side passing, TR told me at one point. You must be telling her to do that.

I don't think so - I said - I'm just trying to get her to stop outside the barn. I kept trying to cue more and more softly, because she was getting concerned. Nothing to worry about, but I could tell I was confusing her. I thought perhaps when she rides with the group they come into the barn together, but TR didn't think it was that. Undoubtedly me, but I couldn't quite see where. But I needed to figure it out, either way.

Lola and I worked for a few minutes. We even had to back out of the barn at one point. Then she finally stood still outside the door. She was quite relieved to finally have figure out what I wanted. Me too.

She's a great horse, and I can see that TR has her well on the way to being another Woody.

On the way home I thought about this journey quite a bit. I thought of the way I rode Woody's canter, feeling a great sense of balance and relaxing into the movement...

No, that's not quite right.

It's not relaxing, really. You're working hard, especially if you are doing it right. The feeling is more like joining in the movement seamlessly. Like flowing with the wind, soft, yet moving with strength.

The whole time we were going in circles I was trying to remember so many things but then it came, that moment when you hit it right and it all comes together and you're as comfortable and confident as anywhere you've ever been. It didn't last long, because then I'd forget to keep my seat right, or my rein would drop or I'd do half a dozen things wrong. Another few laps and it would happen again, just for a few strides. Then back to fumbling.

But it doesn't erase that moment. Nothing erases that moment.

Thanks, TR.


Cactus Jack Splash said...

Sounds like a grand lesson/ride. I look forward to my lesson days, it is nice to have another set of eyes letting me know what is going right and what I can improve on.

AareneX said...

CJS, I love my lesson days too.

Cantering is OUR bugaboo--standies can canter, but it isn't always easy for them, and I don't make it any easier because it's hard for me. Together, my horse and I are learning. But slowly. Buckity buckity buckity, we are learning!

Keep going! I want to hear all about your lessons!

Trailrider said...

My favorite moment was when you got it for a bit, Woody was giving you his easy canter and you were moving him gently with your legs to keep him in the circle you wanted, your shoulders were level, he was just tracking where you looked, your outside rein was soft, your hands were independent of your seat, and you started laughing out loud. That is the feeling I live for when I'm riding, and it was good to see you get to that place.

I think with your new game plan of lessons and riding with direction and purpose, you are going to get to that place of connection with your horse while riding more often, and your laughter will be a regular occurrence.

Gail said...

I love the progress you are making and it encourages me to get my act together. Thanks.

You left a comment on my blog and it has a no rely comment. Right now my only option is posting the answer on my blog and I just don't do that. I would like to reply personally as I have with others.
Please let me know. I do understand.

Mrs Mom said...

Get someone to video you periodically. Then watch the vids with another horse person/ the person instructing you at the time of the video, and you'll be able to see a good bit more. Helps tremendously.

Now go kick some butt in lessons ;)

Jeni said...

yeah for lessons!!!! You will get it, you're already almost .. there. You know the FEEL - that's not something easily found. You know it when you get, and you know when you loose, which means you'll figure out how to keep it. It just takes time!

I personally... my young horse shows me where all MY training holes are.. LOL

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Nice story. I had no idea what your background was regarding riding lessons, nor did I know the cause of your struggles. Just because you have riding lessons doesn't mean you won't continue to have problems with horses. It just means you'll be better equipped to handle them. Horses are always going to be troublesome. My neighbor friend's granddaughter has been taking lessons and showing horses since she was a toddler. The other day I heard a commotion and looked over to see her riding out a rearing horse while her father just stood there laughing. I'd be horrified if my child were on a rearing horse, but that family has so much confidence in their daughter's riding skills that they don't worry. Once she got the horse under control, she continued with its lesson like nothing happened. That's got to be a nice feeling.

Anonymous said...

Getting to ride a horse like Woody and being able to feel when things are right will advance your horsemanship by leaps and bounds, as will the lessons. And by the way - there are no stupid questions!

Crystal said...

Im glad you found him and cant wait to hear more about your lessons and Im sure you will "get it" for longer as well.

Wolfie said...

I agree with Mrs. Mom - get someone to video you. I actually have a few now; some good, some bad, but all educational. I hope that eventually I won't have to take them every week, but I cannot imagine NOT taking lessons. Riding will be an ongoing learning experience for me.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think it's great that you are going to have lessons with Dave. He sounds like a good trainer. Maybe you could even wind up taking lessons on the palomino you liked. Someday he could be yours. Have fun and don't ever worry about asking a 'stupid' question, if it helps there's nothing stupid about it.Good luck.

Melanie said... about "D-all of the above?" LOL!!!!
Seriously though, there have been times I have wanted to speak up but haven't.

The main reason-besides sounding like a know it all, bossy, horse woman?? I have learned (the hard way) that when someone is struggling with an issue that you think you know the answer to, it often does no good to repeatedly point it out. (Especially in a written context, where people do not know me!)

The said person will either come to the realization (that something isn't working) themselves (or with a little help from Dave)or they won't. And although I don't particularly care for Dr. Phil, I love his famous "How is that working for you?" line.

Again, I have held back when maybe I shouldn't have, but it is also hard to judge or see what is going on when you are in blogland. I had a pretty good idea of what I thought the problem was, but I didn't know for sure, because I have never seen you in action.

I think that you are an amazing and courageous woman, who is on her way to becoming an excellent horse person. On the ground AND in the saddle.

Your candidness and openess has also inspired me to me more open about what I really think and believe in blogland, and I thank you for that. I figured if I could pour my guts out about my view on the AZ immigration law (you know what I am referring to)I can pour my guts out over here. : )

And trust me, if I ever come to TX, I would love to meet you and your family. We could discuss horses and politics over wine...or Coke...or water...whatever!! : )

morningbrayfarm said...

I'm so excited reading your recent posts because I'm going to take my very first riding lesson ever on August 21st. I can't wait. :)

Melanie said...

Yes, you can post it....(grins sheepishly)....