Monday, December 14, 2009

baby steps

Having a young, green horse really makes me appreciate the small stuff. Tonight's ride was 75% walk, 20% trot, and 5% halting and I loved every second of it.

Lucy started out with a bit of resistance to my attempts at establishing some form of contact. In order to evade the contact, she tried trotting. She tried wiggling. She tried halting. Eventually she realized it would be easier just to at least try this contact thing out, you know, give it a spin, and that's exactly what she did.

We had a kick ass little bend going, and she had a few really nice moments of really giving through her back. I could feel her top line rising under me when she really accepted the contact and relaxed through her jaw. After fifteen minutes, she was almost looking for it. I would ask her for the contact and go through a few serpentines/changes of direction/etc and then as a reward, she got to walk on a long rein for a few minutes. It got progressively easier to pick her back up and get her "together" (well, as together as you want a horse to be at this point). I asked her to move sideways off my leg, and once she got the idea, we put it together with going across the diagonal, and wah-lah! We had a leg yield. We had attempted that during our lesson with Gina the other night, but our first few tries were pretty unorganized and messy (which was fine!). I was really impressed that she figured it out so quickly, and of course she got lots of praise and stretchy walk on a long rein for a job well done.

I had to continuously run through my position checklist in my head. I started at my eyes and went all the way down to my toes. Was I looking where I wanted to go? Were my shoulders open? Was I sitting tall? Was I posting properly? Was I staying relaxed through my hips and not pinching with my knees? Were my legs underneath me?

This seems like pretty standard stuff, especially for someone who has been riding for a long time like me, but my position has gone off the deep end lately. It turns out that when all my ducks are in a row (i.e. heels, hips, and shoulders), Lucy goes very nicely. If she got fighty and quick, I ran through my checklist and the problem was usually that I was hunched over, or balancing off my knees, or something equally horrendous.

After she was going nicely at the walk, we did some nice stretchy trot work and gradually I asked her to come into the contact at the trot. She did really well!

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