This week has been a long list of do this, do that. Oh, and do it with a smile in temperatures over 90 degrees. Not that I am really complaining as most of it was horse related.
I was on poop/barn patrol from Sunday though Wednesday which means that I cleaned all three stalls each afternoon, checked and filled water troughs as necessary, watered the arena, and swept up each afternoon. I like barn duty, but it's not quite so much fun after work when it's hot. Just sayin'.
Even with the added barn chores, I still rode Speedy on Monday night, Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I rode both boys on Thursday night. Hubby and I had a date night dinner on Friday so I skipped the barn altogether.
With that, on to Monday's lesson.
Let's just say that I earned my first ever trainer high-five. I've said before that I've surprised her, in a good way, but never to this degree. At the lesson the week before, Speedy was ripping the inside bend away, bucking, rearing, BALKING, leaping sideways, and performing other spectacular airs above ground. All in all, he was a complete stink pot.
I am sure JL was prepared, even braced, for another stinker of a lesson in the heat. Without any fan fare, she got us started at the walk and asked to see some sideways steps. No problem. Speedy accepted the inside bend and yielded. JL's eyebrows went up a notch. I asked for the trot, and her jaw pretty much dropped. I knew she was wondering what in holy hell had happened in just a week.
I explained that I hadn't ridden during the past week, but had instead worked Speedy in the side reins with the inside rein set to maintain the inside bend. Watching him and feeling what he did on the line had given me a pretty decent AHA moment. I rode him over the weekend and finally understood/felt what I needed to maintain the bend.
I think she was truly impressed by how much I had accomplished from one week to the next. I've been riding with her for nearly two years now and know that she has no respect for talented riders who won't do their homework. She has told me before that she would much rather teach a less talented rider who works hard than the "natural" who won't do the work. It gets frustrating to work with students who won't do their homework; I know the feeling exactly!
Once she saw that we had "it," we worked on walk to halt transitions so that I could really feel when I was about to lose his inside shoulder and outside hind leg. From the walk, I was only to let him truly halt if his inside shoulder remained up and if his end remained straight - no falling in or drifting out. As we were halting, if either of those things happened, I squeezed and we moved forward and outward. Eventually, he stayed right between my aids and halted on the circle without falling in or drifting out.
Once we had it at the walk, we repeated the exercise at the trot. The whole exercise only took 25 minutes or so. Now that I am developing a more even contact, I can feel where I am about to lose him and can correct it before it's lost. When our trot to walk was pretty good, she asked for a canter transition.
I gave a big grin as Speedy politely jumped into the canter without falling in or flinging his head. I think that immediate and correct departure pleased JL more than anything else that day. As a teacher, it gives me no end of satisfaction when one of my students finally gets something and can demonstrate it on command. I think she felt proud of all of her hard work!
As we cantered, JL asked me to lift his shoulder with a rhythmic outside rein and leg. When she was satisfied that he was fairly, soft she asked for a walk. Our downward was just as nice as the departure had been, and he came back to walk without falling in on the inside shoulder. The lesson was over.
I might have my next lesson this morning rather than on Monday. I have some conflicting appointments next week so I am waiting to hear from her. Lesson or not, I'll be in the saddle early today as our weather is again predicted to be pretty warm. Now that we've crossed this hurdle, I am eager for our next show to see if getting the inside bend influences my scores the way I think it will. I'll know next Saturday.