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?