A lesson this week wasn’t looking good. The local barn Trainer AB travels to has her now booked up with lesson kids until 845 pm. Nobody wants to teach until 945 pm especially when they have an hour drive back home. I’m not so secretly hoping some of the school kids get into band or the musical or something and ditch riding. I want my lessons back.
I had taken Monday off to get M settled into our life before school started today. Poor girl is a bit shocked by the heat. No amount of warning could prepare a girl from Sweden for the reality that is SC in August. With the day off, I could venture out to Trainer AB’s place for a lesson Monday morning and M came along as well.
She rode and competed in the jumpers at 0.9m for 10 years but stopped riding two years ago to take up other competitive pursuits. She was eager to ride again and I had told her the horses were off limits until she was evaluated by Trainer AB. When I offered to share my lesson with her, she jumped at the chance.
What ensued was probably the weirdest lesson ever and yet one more reason I adore Trainer AB.
Her facility is tucked into the mountainside up at the SC/NC border. She has everything you could imagine: a true dressage court, a jumper ring and a cross country field plus trails and creeks. It’s a mini paradise. I got started in the jumper ring to warm up and you know what? Eeyore was a GOOD BOY. He was looky but he settled and got to work in a new ring stuffed with scary looking jumps without a fuss.
Big win right there. Someone is growing up. I can recall a time when a new place meant screaming, fidgeting and barely controlling himself. Now he unloads and immediately gets to grazing. It’s pretty awesome.
We did the typical w/t/c warm up then popped over a cross rail a few times. The whole point of the outing was to tackle the xc fences so we left the arena and headed out. Of course my mouth got me in trouble as we walked over to the field and I complained about my inability to do a 20 m circle to save my life. So what did Trainer AB do?
She had me trot him all around the xc field, for which he was amazing, and then told me to enter the dressage court. I’ve never ridden him in a dressage legal ring before. It was….small. Things came up fast. Any imbalance on the still dew covered grass created havoc.
I started going left which is our good direction. While the size of my circle was off, I was smaller than I should have been, she was surprisingly complimentary on the rest of it. What I thought was not round or bent enough apparently is more than sufficient for our current level. I need to stop being such a perfectionist and remember that there are levels in dressage for a reason. And that we are at the very beginning of this journey.
She asked if I wanted to switch riders at this point and I was happy to hop off and give M a shot. Plus it was a nice way to avoid the horror that is going right. No such luck ducking out of that though. Trainer AB laughed and told me first I had to go right.
And go right I did.
Right out of the dressage court over the white fence.
So we re entered and picked up the trot. Got on the circle.
And exited the arena again.
My head exploded with expletives but I kept my cool and entered yet again. Trainer AB told me to a) look where I want to go instead of where he was wanting to go and b) bend him to the inside even if it meant his nose touched his butt.
The next time we stayed in that darn arena. It wasn’t pretty but we kept inside the tiny white fence. We did four more circles before calling it decent and then I got off to hand the reins to M.
M was nervous. Not only was there a language barrier in some of the instructions (for example she had no clue what changing across the diagonal meant) but she also always rode in a vest back home. I had taken her to the local tack shop Sunday to buy the necessities: pants, helmet, boots. She had declined chaps and gloves. I had paid for it but told her a vest was going to be on her since it wasn’t a necessity to ride unless she decides to try xc. I think not having it on made her feel more vulnerable. Plus Eeyore isn’t easy and she rides with a lot of leg. He kept trotting in the walk and cantering in the trot.
She was good though. They stayed in the arena and she even got him to do a flying lead change when he picked up the canter she hadn’t asked for and had the wrong lead. Both Trainer AB and I were like “huh, I didn’t know he could do that”. She will do great with him as they get to know each other and she gets more comfortable again.
After that I asked Trainer AB if she would hop on and school the bank. He had an affinity to launch up it when I schooled him at FENCE and well, I do a lot better when he jumps things more normally. She hopped on to make for rider #3 for the morning and schooled him over some scary barrels and up and down the bank no issue.
As I watched I thought 1) I wish I could ride like her, she is so soft and giving and 2) Eeyore is a really good horse.
After that he was lathered and blowing hard, so we called it a day. It had been an hour anyway and was the oddest lesson ever. Trainer AB laughed about it saying that she had never done all three phases with three different riders in a single lesson before. My life is nothing if not interesting.
I’m not sure what M wants to do as far as riding goes. She is safe enough that she can now ride him at home when I’m around. If she wants to lesson she can do so on the weeks opposite of my typical lesson schedule which would actually be really nice as Eeyore would get a weekly lesson that way. Any extra riding she can do will only benefit him fitness wise in the long run.
For me, I’m going to buy some poles to create a dressage ring inside my arena so I can really work on that phase a bit more. Maybe run through a dressage test and see how it goes. I’d be quite unhappy if we got to our first HT only to be eliminated for exiting the dressage arena when I can work on that at home. I’m also going to try to find time to trailer to RB where I used to lesson with J. It’s a county owned park and open to the public and has a small dressage court plus a full course of jumps. I used to take Gem up their to practice our dressage as well so I think sometime this week I may do that. School officially started today and Wyatt is joking cub scouts with his first meeting tonight so life is about to get busier again. Where is my money tree so I can retire????