Yup, this is going to be in multiple parts because, well, there is a whole lot to say. Also, limited media because I was alone.
Okay, lets back up shall we?
The original plan was to have a group outing at FENCE, a venue about an hour away, Friday at 9 am. I was super excited for not only our first cross country experience, but also the first group lesson we would be involved in. Trainer also had plans to put one of her students going for her A pony Club rating (basically professional level) on Gem during the outing.
But then this exchange happened Thursday evening:
I admit to being really bummed. Pretty much everything I was excited about had evaporated and I briefly thought about canceling. I had taken a day off work for this and was thinking maybe it wasn’t worth the time away from the office anymore. In the end I decided that any lesson was better than no lesson.
We started with a warm up in the jump arena. Trainer gave me the reins (hahahahahahha funny pun) and told me to warm up on my own while she watched so she could see what I was doing. I started off by working on those slow, purposeful turns maintaining rhythm and trying to achieve real bend at the walk. She had good things to say about my posture, my elbows being fluid and unlocked and my attempts at bend although my turns could have been planned even earlier.
Then I picked up the trot and Gem was floating and light. She really is liking the Baucher quite a lot. I think she needs the stability it gives her plus I am riding a million times better and more steady myself which helps create the balance we are looking for.
Honestly, the flat work was boring simply because it was so darn good. Gem was listening and while we are still fighting a lot of the same things, each time I can feel it improving.
One of my (many) flaws in riding is lack of preparation. Gem can turn on a dime, but that doesn’t mean she should and it also kills off any momentum we have. Trainer is working hard on the training pyramid and we are just now beginning to get the whole rhythm thing down so we can begin to work on relaxation more. When I stuff her into corners or turn her sharply, it ruins everything. Plus it can’t be that comfortable for her.
So we worked on lots of changes of direction focusing on planing well ahead, giving Gem plenty of notice by using all my aides and turning like an 80 year old driving on ice. My main task was to keep the exact same trot pace and rhythm through it all. No slowing, no speeding up and maintaining equal weight on all four feet. No more motorcycling around turns on two wheels.
And….we nailed it!!! I started planning well in advance and it felt like we were barely working at all even though I was doing way more while riding than ever before. She turned here, she turned there. I made her go past all the scary objects that she was trying to spook at, I changed diagonals, I let go of one rein to give her a scratch on her withers.
Through it all she remained steady and even. My half halts were being listened to, my posting speed was getting through and we floated around like magic.
I didn’t think my smile could get any bigger.