Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons (& Clydesdales!)

After work yesterday I microwaved some leftovers, changed clothes, and headed for the barn. I got there about 5:15 and got ready to ride. There were surprisingly few people there at that time, which was nice, since I prefer to have some room in the ring and to not block the aisle for everyone!

Henry was great, although not as steady in the contact at first. We worked on a lot of bending, circles, etc and then did several trot-halt-trot transitions. After a break we worked on leg-yields, shoulder-in, then haunches & half-pass. Still not quite right but it is amazing how well he will "sit" and slow down when I am asking him for lateral stuff. I had a really hard time using my right leg for this stuff. It almost feels like the inside of my right thigh is thicker or something? I end up turning my toe out just to be able to get a good feel on his side, which is troubling. I have theorized in the past that this might be because of driving, and using my right leg for gas/ breaks (therefore that leg's muscles get worked more, and so are bulkier) but I might be a little nuts to think that.

We took another break and worked a little in sitting trot, again with the trot-halt-trot transitions and then into a rising stretchy trot. At this point, people had started to come in and tack up for a 6:30 lesson taught by the BO, and she came out and saw some of my ride. She commented that she was very pleased with the stretching work and that we had come a long way in the past couple of months with it, which is true, and thank GOODNESS I have finally learned to PUSH him at the stretchy trot and hold his front end up so he doesn't fall all over himself. She then said that my trainer (her daughter) had commented on how nice of a horse he was, which combined with a similar comment from the farrier (relayed to me via another instructor/boarder yesterday) made me all warm and fuzzy inside :)

I gave Henry another walk break and then we did one or two canters each way, concentrating on uphill, steady slow pace, BENDING etc, but by this point riders were starting to bring in their schoolies for the 6:30, and Henry was getting tired (even broke once or twice) so I finished with one more stretchy trot around the arena - and he was so tired I had to push him to keep the trot! Normally if I go large with a stretchy he will prick his ears and *ahem* extend the trot unasked for...

I took his tack off and decided to take him out into the arena for a walk, to see if he would roll, even though he wasn't warm. He dug around a couple of times like he was going to roll, sniffed around for that perfect spot, but in the end decided that watching the lesson get started was more interesting! There were six riders in the lesson and not all of them felt like giving Henry any space to potentially roll, so after a couple laps we went back to his stall. By this point, two boarders had added their horsies to the already circus-like ring, so I was REALLY glad I had gotten there early! I cleaned his bucket and gave him some warm water, started to put his stuff away, and then when I went to groom him saw that he had taken half a flake of his hay and STUFFED it in the bucket, and was proceeding to take dainty little bites. Whatever makes you happy, buddy!

Two of my 7:30 college lesson riders (Fashion Boots Rusty Rider and Medieval History Practical Horseman - see Jan 27 post for more info) showed up while the 6:30 was still in progress, so I had them go into the barn to start grooming their schoolies. They were very eager to be able to ride which is awesome. They really are great students. The three other riders (Finance Major Linebacker, No Gloves International Relations Major, and Quiet Architecture Major) came right on time and all had matching gloves! Evidence, they said, of their dedication to the sport ;)

We got two more horses groomed and tacked, and I borrowed one from the 6:30 lesson, and once everyone was finally out in the ring I showed everyone how to mount. All of the guys in this lesson went from never been on a horse to steering, stopping & starting, and decent position in about a half hour. I was impressed. The best part was, the QAM had asked last week if he could wear cowboy boots to ride in (sure, why not...) and HE DID! Granted, he had a wicked chair seat, but those boots looked good :D

During the lesson, MHPH asked how much horses weigh. I gave him approximate weights for several of the horses in the ring. Then - "What about Clydesdales?" This guy is OBSESSED! He asked if we had any last week, to which I replied that no, we didn't, but there is another local college that has some. He asked if they would let him ride them. Umm... probably not. In honor of MHPH and his zeal for learning and love of Clydes, I give you the following Super Bowl Ads:



and my favorite of the night (seriously made me tear up a little!)

With that, I am off to prepare for my 5:30 lesson with my trainer, and try to think of some interesting things to work on with my 6:30 BegInterVanced college lesson. I'm starting to look forward to Spring Break!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recapping the end of January

HAPPY GROUNDHOGS DAY! Unfortunately for those in the wintry north, we ALWAYS have six (or eight, or twelve) more weeks of winter. Even though it was in the 40s this weekend, it's going back to single digits this week. Sigh...

When we left off...

It was Wednesday, and I was feeling lazy. No, I didn't make it to the gym (in fact, I never made it out there at all last week). I got some rest, but probably not enough!

Thursday I had planned a night out for myself, my boyfriend, and several of my friends (I had a super-sneaky plan to play matchmaker), but before I could get there, I had to go out to the barn to teach a lesson for one of the girls who works at the barn, as she was not feeling well. It was a 7:30 pm lesson so I lunged Henry before they got there. He was obedient to my voice commands, not too hot and gave some very nice canters. Good boy! The lesson was five beginners who actually did a very good job of getting their horses tacked up, we all got on, and worked on position, steering, 2 point and footfalls (distinguishing when the outside fore went forward, etc) at the walk. I am thinking these are modest people, because compared to MY beginner lessons, these guys and gals were ready for the WEG!

After all the horses were put away and Henry had this blankets, I changed at the barn and picked up a friend who lives out that way. We met another friend in town and headed over to the bar for some trivia with my boyfriend and his friend. I finally had some dinner, we got probably 3 out of 15 trivia questions right, and my boyfriend's friend suggested to me (later on) that my friend might like another of our friends and they should meet. So much for my matchmaking skills!

Friday night, I went to the barn not knowing if my beginner lesson was going to show up at all. The last word I had from the Barn Owner was that they wanted to switch to a new time but weren't sure what that time would be. However, the BO had not told me they weren't coming on Friday at 6 (the original time), so I went out just in case. I wasn't dressed to ride, because my boyfriend and I were supposed to meet his dad for dinner later on and I thought I might only have to be there for ten minutes or so to clean out Henry's water bucket. I asked around to see if anyone knew if my lesson was planning on showing up, but no one knew for sure. I called one of the girls in the lesson and they said they were on their way. Just my luck : /

I lunged Henry for a few minutes until they got there, and then did my best to teach. These girls (there was another one there tonight, whose Drop form I had signed last week, who decided that maybe she would show up after all!) are not confident. They are not used to animals. It takes f o r e v e r to teach them. They don't feel comfortable on their own, so I had to basically give three mini-private lessons in 45 minutes (they were late, too). Sigh! I went over grooming, tacking up, and actually went fifteen minutes over so that I could at least show them how to mount and dismount, and then hold each horse while they practiced. My boyfriend is nothing if not patient, as he had to wait in the tack room the whole time (although since it was tuned to E! he learned some very useful facts about Jessica Simpson). He also got some entertainment from three girls who board at the barn who decided to "free lunge" one girl's horse. By this, they meant "chase the poor thing who doesn't get turnout EVER with a lunge whip so that all the horses in the barn are white-eyed wondering WTF is going on... 'to get some extra energy out because he has a show coming up'". DOUBLE SIGH because while this was going on, I was holding a horse in the aisle trying to keep it from trampling my timid beginners.

At the end of the lesson as they were leaving, I said to the girls, "So, you're going to keep this lesson time then?" They conferred in Japanese, asked to see the lesson schedule, and looked confused when I reminded them that they had already heard all their options from both me and the BO. Silence. Then, "well........ yeah then I guess we'll keep this time", to which the other instructor in the tack room muttered "wow, should not have been that hard". I concur.

Saturday and yesterday I rode Henry in the afternoons, working on really getting a good feel in the outside rein, moving straight and forward, doing trot-halt-trot transitions and getting really good canters. I admit I have been slacking off a little on the lateral work. I did a little bit each way on both days, but ring traffic is usually an issue on the weekends so I don't have a lot of long straightaways to work on this stuff (yeah, that's it... not because it's tough or anything lol), but I will definitely work on it tonight before my 7:30 lesson.

I also met with two women from my GMO on Saturday to take the reins for the annual silent auction that we hold at our awards dinner. I got some interesting new perspectives on the BOD for our club (not all positive, unfortunately), but hopefully the goings-on will become more transparent this year so that members will be more in the loop. Maybe I will even be able to plant a seed for getting some more social activities (read: for those who might not have a horse of their own, or want all the activities to revolve around who's got the best ride in town, etc). I'm talking conformation clinics, lectures, movie nights, potluck dinners, bowling, whatever! Anything that can bring a little more "warm and fuzzy" to our club would be a great addition! I wonder if other clubs have had similar situations?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Long Day, Late Night (Lather, Rinse, Repeat)

Last night was another killer, as directly after work I rushed out to the barn to be ready for my 5:30 lesson with my trainer, and then had a college lesson to teach at 6:30. I got home earlier than on Monday (around 9 this time instead of 11) but I was still pooped and fell asleep quite easily. Waking up this morning... not so much!

I was nervous getting ready to ride because of Henry's antics on Monday night. Part of it was me being frustrated at the people in the ring, I'm sure, but his mindset of forward = FAST and slow = sideways was getting old fast. I tacked up and got on while the woman before me was still in her lesson, and my trainer told me it would be a little while since this woman's horse was acting up a bit. No problem, we could use the extra warm-up! I did some easy, forward trot circles and worked on that darn right bend, and by the time my lesson started he was feeling great - loose, calm, and listening to me.

We worked on a little bit of the lateral movements, which are getting better every day. His leg-yields are great, especially when I can get myself into the correct position. His half-pass is still coming but my biggest challenge with that and the haunches-in is keeping the bend in the correct direction. After a break we did some canter work, keeping him upright and BENDING. His canter was, as usual, lovely, but for some reason he started to goof around when we got to the corner between H-C. He would pop into the inside and break to the trot, and it seemed like he was giving a half-hearted spook maybe? Nothing tremendous, just a break in concentration that, coupled with my inability to really keep him off my inside leg, caused some trouble. After two or three of these episodes I was able to push him through that corner with a bend, but then he wanted to speed up again. He really likes the uphill canter, I think, but it's definitely hard for him to stay there for long stretches of time.

After another break we worked on some trot-halt-trot transitions, getting him really off my seat and getting him to rock back on his haunches and sort of launch himself into the trot transitions. We also did some trot-canter-trot-walk transitions so that he would start to learn to differentiate between when I was asking for a full stop, a down transition, and just a balancing half-halt (his tendency is to just STOP - think reining horse lol). This is something we will have to keep working on. From there we did a few lengthenings, which are really coming along nicely.

My main homework for this week, since we have most of what we want and are waiting for his muscles to come along to provide the carrying power he needs is as follows:

  • bending, and getting his stomach loose enough to be able to move it when and where I want it
  • keep finessing lateral work
  • get him more steady in his contact, especially with the outside rein (he tends to float in between the reins in a sort of no-mans-land)
  • trot-halt-trot transitions to encourage him to really sit and use his hind end for transitions
"We'll be here for a while" still holding strong with us, for now.

My college lesson went pretty smoothly, with the two Rusty Riders showing up early enough to catch the last few minutes of my lesson. Everyone tacked up and got on easily, and I actually think all my stressing last week about how to run the lesson and what to work on was good, since it gave me a sort of plan of attack for this week.

We worked on getting the schoolies to listen to the least possible amount of aid that was necessary to get a prompt and appropriate reaction. We worked on walk, halt, trot transitions, throwing in circles when they felt comfortable. I really tried to emphasize that you want to use a whisper of an aid first, then escalate if that's not effective, but then the next time you ask start from a whisper again, and we also worked on position - keeping their upper bodies tall with shoulders back was a lot better than last week, but some still need help with heels down, legs back stuff. I told them to imagine the magician's trick of sawing someone in half and to try to separate their bodies from the belly button. Everything above the belly button stretches up, everything below stretches down. We also worked on keeping steady, quiet, forward hands and keeping a straight line from the elbow to the bit by pulling back with the shoulders instead of the hands when going for a "whoa" aid.

After a walk break I had them all line up and do a couple of canters in each direction, and had them concentrate on their position, keeping a hold of the outside rein (the more the schoolie gets to drift in to the middle, the shorter the distance they will have to canter to get back to the end of the line!), and keeping the canter until the RIDER asked for a down transition. Most of them were great. The Ten Rides In girls needed more help, as one was bouncing around a lot, and the other couldn't (or wouldn't) get her pony to canter. Her hands are a big problem, as the minute her pony would pick up a trot and start to go faster, she would flail around and yank on his mouth. When I suggested grabbing a handful of his mane to help her stay balanced her steering went out the window. Maybe next week I will get her on another horse that she feels more stable on and that is more responsive to the aids, but she's going to have to learn to keep her hands a lot quieter.

Most of the horses weren't even warm, but I had them all walk them around the arena to cool out anyway, and one of them (the first horse I ever trained) took a nice long roll. He's such a big chunk of love, and he definitely enjoyed himself :)

Today there is a winter storm warning in effect until 10pm, and I am very tired, so I am skipping the barn tonight. If my friend is free we might hit the gym, but I don't know if I'll be motivated enough to go without her! A nap might be more what the doctor ordered...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Long Day, Late Night

Oh wow am I tired. Long day at work yesterday, then straight home to eat some leftover pizza while changing into riding attire (which in the depths of bleakest mid-winter) includes pantyhose, thermal shirts, wool sweaters, and my new fleecy vest. Out to the barn to ride Henry, who was uptight and more sideways than forward (but not always in the good way). College lesson with 4 total newbies and a rusty rider who wants to brush up on her skills. Over to my parent's house to pick up the rest of my laundry from their (free) dryer. Home at 11, shower, fall asleep and have weird dreams about puppies (huh?).

When I got Henry out into the ring we started with lots of leg-yields at the walk. Center line to the wall. Quarter line to the wall. Quarter line to the opposite wall. Wall to center line. Quarter line to center line, back to quarter line. It was getting pretty good. Then two people came in to lunge their horses (one after the other, not both at the same time), so I took the far end of the ring (by the open door, not by the barn). We picked up a trot and tried to keep him up in his shoulders and at a reasonable pace, without me tipping forward, and keeping my hands forward. I don't know if it was because of our warm up not being warm enough for him, the other horse in the ring, or what, but he was tense. When Henry is tense he GOES. Despite my best half-halt attempts we never got a consistently nice pace for the whole night.

Every time I tried to slow him down, his shoulders would pop out to the inside or the outside. If I tried to keep a better hold on the reins he would tense up his neck and curl up, or stick his nose in the air. It felt like he was paddling around, so I would try to focus his energy into going forward to the bit without going slower. Did. Not. Work. I did trot-halt and trot-walk transitions to make sure he was listening to my whoa aids. Those were okay, but as soon as we got back into the trot for more than a few strides it felt like he wanted to take off again.

Then there was a lesson of 5 or 6 riders that came into the ring. The instructor (also happened to be the Barn Owner) asked them to stay in the short arena/ not go past F and K. Apparently one of them thought this meant to stay on the OTHER side of F and K, where I was struggling to contain my wild man. Great. She couldn't steer, either. Her horse kept drifting in and out from the track so it was almost impossible to work around her. Then another boarder brought her horse down to the circle I was on with this lesson horse. Yikes. I tried a couple of canters each way, but I knew they wouldn't be pretty. I concentrated on keeping him relatively slow, and responsive when I asked for the walk, and then I got the heck out of that ring! I had just walked him back to his stall when I saw two college-aged kids wandering into the barn, 25 minutes early for their lesson. *Sigh*

I untacked Henry and we all went into the tack room to wait for the rest of the lesson to show up. Got their liability releases signed, etc, went over rules, and learned a little about each of them. There are four guys and one girl. As I said the girl has ridden before and wants to refresh her skills. She also told me who she thought she should ride and that the last time she was at the barn they had switched her around a lot so that they could find the perfect horse for her. She didn't like mares and she couldn't ride one that was too short, because she has long legs (carefully outfitted with the most ridiculous fashion boots I have ever seen). She was a no-show last week because it was a holiday.

The guys seem very nice, if a bit clueless. One is a finance major (looks like a linebacker), one is international relations (forgot to bring gloves), and one is an architecture major (very quiet). The fourth is a piece of work. He wants to know everything there is to know about the practical aspects of riding. He's very interested in medieval history, so obviously becoming an accomplished equestrian is paramount to his learning experience. He was disappointed that we didn't have any Clydesdales, and wants to know if he can take several lessons a week. He also made a point to tell me that he was the captain of the fencing team.

We went over how to act around horses, how to safely maneuver around them in the stall, and grooming. Parts of the saddle and bridle, how to tack up. Then each of them picked a schoolie to groom and tack up. By this point it was already 8:30 (i.e. end of the lesson) and the Medieval Dude and Refresher Rider were more than a little disappointed that they couldn't ride. Hey guys, it's horsie bedtime! They told me they would be sure to get there early next week so that they could have a full hour to ride.

After they left, it was blankie time for Henry, lights out, doors locked, and go. The best (?) part is... I get to do it all again tonight!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Drumroll please...

After a summer's worth of hard work, volunteering, and sweating it out, last night Henry and I were announced 2008 Year End Schooling Show Training Level Dressage Champions, with an averaged score of 65.77%!!! We got a lovely ribbon and a custom 8x10 picture frame that I will put up next to my ribbon rack (which my awesome boyfriend made for me last year). Winners of the Recognized Show Year End Awards got gorgeous embroidered coolers, and there were also plaques and crystal prizes for Rider Achievement (cumulative) awards. Maybe this summer I will make it to some recognized shows, but I had better start saving and schooling now!

Anyway, I went to the event early to help set up for the silent auction. There were lots of donations from local trainers, artists, and businesses, and we ended up actually making some money back on it! I bid on and won a fleecy Ariat vest and a custom painted Breyer horse model - soon I will have a miniature Henry! He will probably live on my desk at work :)

The awards dinner was delicious.
I ended up sitting at a table full of people who ride at my barn - both boarders and trailer-in riders, which was neat because we all sort of knew each other. My boyfriend dutifully came with me to the dinner - poor guy, had to eat all that delicious food! It was also great to see everyone get their awards for their achievements. I especially love seeing JR/YRs getting awards, it's great that they are getting involved in our GMO (volunteer hours are a pre-requisite for awards). One of my former trainers and the woman who owned the barn I was at last year won Member of the Year awards, which is awesome. They did a lot of work for the club this year, organizing a weekend Symposium with George Williams that was really cool, educational, and definitely something I could envision myself doing in the future.

I just got an email from the woman who helped coordinate the auction this year, and she will not be able to do it again next year... She asked if I would be interested in the position! I do love volunteering for the GMO, but I am going to take a couple of days to think about it, since it was pretty hectic last night! Hmm...

Back to work tomorrow (weekends are way too short), and hopefully tomorrow night my college lesson will actually show up!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Okay, going to TRY to keep this brief!

Let's see..

Wednesday night, I spent in the gym. Cardio on a killer elliptical, about 45 minutes of strength/ weight training, and then a yoga class. Good times :)

Thursday night, I went out to the barn kind of late, around 7pm, because I had taken my time with dinner lol. Henry was a peach as I lunged first, then got on to work on my homework (yes I did everything on the list!). Then I spent some quality time cleaning his stall, scrubbed out his water bucket and put some warm water in, etc. By the time I left it was 9:30!

Last night I taught another college lesson. Out of four originally expected students, one had dropped the class, and another never showed. This was an ABSOLUTE beginner class, which was easy to tell when the first comment in the barn was "Oh! It smells in here!" They were sweet though. We worked on grooming and learning how to tack up, as well as general rules for the barn and how to act around equines. They suggested at the end of the lesson that they'd like to switch to Wednesday nights, which would be nice so that I could teach M, T, W and then have the rest of the week to myself. I will have to check with the barn owner to make sure that's ok. My boyfriend, who comes home on the weekends from school, decided he wanted to clean Henry's stall (!!!) and so I let him do it while I scrubbed the water bucket. He's a keeper ;)

Today I went to the barn and rode Henry, really working on leg-yields from the wall, quarter lines, and center line, as well as getting that awesome uphill canter more consistently. He got his lead (true or counter) every time except once, and by the end of the ride was holding himself up for longer and longer stretches.

Unfortunately I was witness to some nasty bad-mouthing at the barn today; I hate to even be around that sort of drama but as we all know it is unavoidable. It was a woman who was actually sh*t talking the barn owner! Who is a glorious and wonderful older woman, and deserves to be sainted. I was shocked by this boarder's negative comments, but even more shocked that she would just spout it in the tack room with plenty of people around. That's bold. I left the tack room as quick as I could.

Also unfortunate is that our resident farrier seems to have forgotten about Henry. I have been using his bell boots during rides lately because he's getting pretty long, and I have heard him step on himself more than once. I think the next time I see my trainer I will ask her advice on this. The last thing I want is another episode like I had two years ago, when Henry got a sole bruise because his angles were off. Six weeks of handwalking in the middle of summer is frustrating, but it was worse since that was preventable. Hmmm...

Tonight I am attending and helping out at our GMO's annual Awards Dinner & Silent Auction. Last year I ended up spending about $100 on auction items... I might have to leave the checkbook at home this time! I also won a year-end championship last year, so keep your fingers crossed for a repeat for me and Henry!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Where was I? Oh yes, Tuesday night... My BegInterVanced Class!

[Traveling back in time to Tuesday night...]

So after my pretty good lesson with Henry, I brought him back to his stall to untack and prepare for my college lesson, which I thought would be starting in about 15 minutes. As soon as I got back into the main barn aisle, though, one of the boarders told me my students were already there. Whoops! I saw two girls checking out the horses and figured that must be them, and told them I would be ready as soon as I could. I took of Henry's saddle and bridle and put him back in his stall, and then nervously went over to talk to them.

I cracked a few dumb jokes and to my shock, they laughed! Something about how I had always dreamed of a "tall, dark, and handsome horse" but ended up with "short, chunky, and red", which is true but doesn't make me love my horse any less of course! As much as I told myself what my dream horse would look like the three horses I have spent the longest time riding have all been chestnuts with 'tude! Anyway I gave them a quick tour of the barn, and then we waited in the (gloriously warm) tack room for about ten minutes because there were still three more students we were waiting for. We talked about majors, the weather, and riding experience, and when the rest of the group came in we went over barn rules. The three that came in later (they were on time, the first two were early) had all ridden at our barn last semester. One of them has been riding for a while and is working at Training Level. The other two have ONLY ridden for one semester... about ten rides. The first two girls have ridden for a few years (one dressage, one hunters), but not recently so they are a little rusty. Well, okay then.

The three girls who have ridden at our barn last semester all wanted to stick with the same horses that they had been riding. Fair enough! The other two girls got matched up with an old Morgan mare who makes a lot of faces but who is generally a willing ride, and an old cow horse that was the first horse I ever trained :) He's ADORABLE and a total sweetheart, and also a bit of a chunk. Love that horse. The first test I ever rode on him was at a schooling show at our barn. We entered at A, trotted down the center line, halted at X, and... he started SCREAMING for his friends. Poor little guy! He did the test very well, hollering the whole way, and afterwards the judge commented that I had kept my composure much better than he had.

It took a little while to get everyone tacked up, and I was lucky that the three girls had already ridden at this barn since they knew where everything was and could get ready independantly. I did have to help out with bridling for most of them, which is understandable since schoolies have a knack for getting their heads *just* high enough to be impossible to reach. We got everyone on safely and adjusted stirrups, though it seemed like everyone wanted their stirrups a lot shorter than I would have put them... it's been a while since I taught lessons. Once everyone was walking at a good pace and warming up I blabbed on for a while about position, and how I tend to talk a lot, and how I am happy to answer any questions about anything. I asked what each of the girls had been working on when they rode last.

Girl 1 - Rusty Hunter: "Well I was jumping. And working on my position, and trot diagonals"

Girl 2 - Rusty Dressage: "Sitting well at the trot"

Girl 3 - Ten Rides In: "We were doing some cantering"

Girl 4 - Also Ten Rides In: "Well in trot, we would like, not sit and stand but just stand" Umm... 2-point? "Yeah"

Girl 5 - Obviously, Relatively, Advanced: "Connection, and doing Training Level tests"

Oh boy. Two beginners, two intermediate riders, and one (relatively - relative to her co-students) advanced rider. Now I have to walk the line between keeping things interesting for the more experienced riders, keeping things achievable for the less experienced riders, and keeping everything safe for everyone.

Then I asked them what they wanted to get out of this semester, if there was anything they wanted to learn, any specific goals they wanted to accomplish, etc... Blank stares. Oops, forgot this is supposed to be a fun PE credit! I guess I will alo have to walk the line between keeping things laid back and actually teaching important equestrian skills!

I had them work on circles, showing them the size of a 20 and 10 meter circle at the walk. I had them do a 20 meter figure 8 at the walk, emphasizing the lovely round quality that a circle should have. I had them do a serpentine at the walk, again, trying to tell them that they should keep the half circles rounded. We'll be working on that a lot more, looks like. Then we picked up the trot. Or rather, the Obviously Relatively Advanced girl did. She was awesome. Sort of did her thing, steered away from any impending pile-ups, did circles, worked on getting a nice contact with her horse. Ten Rides In 1 and 2 were bouncing around with heels up, hands either in her lap (1) or up in the air by her face (2). Rusty Hunter and Rusty Dressage were trying to keep the old schoolies on the wall and in a trot, and were a little tipped forward, but no major flaws. Sigh...

After a few minutes of posting trot, working on diagonals a lot, I asked them to sit the trot for a few minutes. Ten Rides In 1 seemed very confused... "Don't we always post?" We gave the horses a long rein walk break for a few minutes and then when we shortened them up to get them ready for work again, I tried to re-emphasize the aids. How you should use only as much as was necessary, but enough to get what you asked. I tried to re-emphasize position. How you should keep your shoulders back and down, and push your butt into the saddle (by this point, I was FREEZING, despite my pantyhose + breeches + jeans and my t-shirt + 2 long sleeved thermal shirts + sweatshirt).

We picked up some trot again and I asked them to do some 20 meter circles at the trot, either at A or at C. There were some very near traffic incidents, but everyone survived. Then I asked them to all come down to C and do a FULL 20 meter circle at the trot, keeping them going at a nice pace and working on keeping the circles round. ORA did a beautiful circle. TRI 1 & 2 gave some nice efforts. RH and RD couldn't keep their ponies at the trot the whole way around their first couple of tries, but were determined to get it right, and soon did. Then we all cooled out, which took a lot longer than I thought it would. After 20 minutes of trotting two of the horses were sweaty, the furry beasts! We got everyone put up cool and dry and I thanked the girls, they said see you next week, and I finished putting my tack away.

By this point it was about 8:30, and I was exhausted. I didn't pick Henry's stall - I like to clean it at night when I can to make it easier for the barn crew in the morning, and so that he doesn't lay in as much poop; I did get him some nice warm water and his blanket though. After my first BegInterVanced lesson I think I know what we'll work on next week:
  • position- without this foundation, you can't work on anything else; this is also a safety issue (heels down, eyes up, etc)
  • working on the aids to get prompt transitions and keeping your horse listening
  • keeping tabs on the schoolies' temps - no way do I want to get them sweaty again
  • trot diagonals
  • mmmmaybe some cantering, if they're ready and express interest
I actually couldn't sleep Wednesday night because I was planning out what next Tuesday's lesson would consist of, how crazy is that? I did ride Henry last night but I will post about it later. I warned my students that I talk too much sometimes... guess it applies here too!