Riding Boot Camp

Today I had my 8th lesson in a span of four days! My coach is back in town for a week and she owes me a ton of lessons, so I’m trying to get as many lessons in as possible before she leaves. As I might have mentioned before, Lesson Horse Lena is currently having soundness issues. The poor thing can’t even walk without wincing. I feel for her, but since she’s out of commission I’ve had the opportunity to venture outside my comfort zone and ride different horses. I’m hoping once her hooves grow out she will be sound enough to ride again.

The only other rideable horse at my coach’s farm is a 8 year old liver chestnut Arabian mare named Diamond. She’s a dainty, feminine mare and she’s an absolute natural at dressage, even though she’s greener than a cucumber. I started her a few years ago (intro-level, walk and trot), so I was a little nervous to get back on when she’s been sitting for so long. However, being the courageous horse person that I am (insert sarcastic exaggeration). I saddled her up and slipped the bridle over her ears. After a brief lunging session, I used the corral panel to mount up. Amazingly, she stood stock still for me and froze there until I told her it was okay to move off. It looks like all that time I spent on mounting and dismounting and making her stand still really paid off. It’s the little things.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Don’t filters make pictures so much more epic?

D2 Such roundness. Much forward.

Perhaps I should mention that I took to this horse to a schooling show a few months after I started her. It was the most humiliating public horse appearance I’ve ever made (barring the time that a client’s pony jumped out of the dressage arena…and the schooling show). Diamond was a complete wreck in the arena! We bucked across the diagonal and had some canter strides when we should have been walking. I was eliminated.

As a side note, why the heck do we have eliminations in schooling shows? The point is that it’s a practice show to get your horse used to the process of showing. They should make allowances for green horses. A schooling show is like a little league baseball game. Does anyone care if the kid can only pitch the ball six feet? Does anyone care if the kid ran the opposite direction he was supposed to? No! We just want them to show up and play nice, then everyone gets to go out for pizza afterwards! Rant over.

Anyways, I’ve been taking back to back lessons on Diamond on Shiloh for almost a week. I’m taking full advantage of my access to a coach. Every lesson is highly focused and detail oriented. It’s fulfilling to learn how to ride with my whole mind and body and I feel a burst of exhilaration with each light bulb moment when I finally understand what a true half halt feels like or how what a seat-to-hand connection feels like.  All the good stuff aside, riding this often with proper position and trying to keep the horse straight within the aids is both mentally and physically exhausting. My inner thighs are screaming in pain. Every time I hop off, I do the dismount waddle.

I guess most of my take-aways for this week of dressage boot camp have to do with correct position and aids. My legs like to slide forward instead of closing around the horse’s barrel. I need to work on maintaining my outside rein and keeping a steady contact.

Also, I’ve realized that I need to take my own limits into account. I have no idea how career horse people do it! After only riding two horses a day for a few days I feel drained. Today, we decided to work on Shiloh’s canter and everything went to pot. Cantering on the left lead is no problem, but it’s a whole new crazy story when we switch to the right. I know that he’s really imbalanced on that side and will do anything he can to switch back to his good lead, but I wasn’t expecting the bucking temper tantrum that he gave me. It’s like pulling teeth working on his canter! But I guess the only remedy is…actually cantering. Even when it stinks.

If you want

You still have a day to enter the givaway! Please. I want to keep the stuff, but I want the joy of giving it away more.

Happy riding!

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