So I argued back and forth with myself about posting a lesson recap because if I’m being totally honest, I don’t really enjoy reading them. This may have something to do with the fact that most of the bloggers I follow are hunter/jumpers and I don’t really have any application for anything that I may pick up in their recaps. Some dressage lesson recaps interest me, but as a group, lesson recaps aren’t my favorite posts.
My lesson. Bah. First, I haven’t taken a lesson since early November last year. Second, I haven’t taken a lesson on anything other than Copper since probably last August. I’ve only ridden Paige and Copper for a year now, maybe Robin once? I don’t remember. Anyway, I’ve turned into the type of rider that likes consistency in her horses. Going from Copper to Paige and back is kind of culture shock, but I’ve ridden each of them enough to at least know the language. I haven’t attempted to ride a reining horse in a year (thus the title…)
I had a stressful drive to my lesson. My car is in the body shop because Jason hit a deer with it, so I was driving our third vehicle that needs tires. I was trying to avoid taking the interstate because of the tires, so I was half way there on back roads when I got to a road block. There was a really bad wreck on the way, so I had to turn around and take the interstate after all. I didn’t want to push it and drive the Jeep too fast so I found what looked like an old bread truck and followed him in the right lane going at a snail’s pace. It was sort of stressful, and not the best way to prep myself for a lesson, that’s for sure.
Last night I rode Shrek. Yes, Shrek. G is special. (And if he is reading this, he should know that I say that with a smile on my face.) Shrek is a finished reiner that was once a school horse at a college. G recently purchased him to fix the issues brought on by his previous riders so that he could utilize him as a lesson horse/his personal horse since he sold JBob (the only other reiner I’ve ridden, also in lessons at G’s). Shrek has come a long way since G bought him in April and rides really nicely. Overall I enjoyed my ride on Shrek, I just get frustrated when my body doesn’t listen to me. Particularly when practicing spins. I’d already walked/jogged/loped when G asked me to spin him for the first time. As G was reminding me of the cues, I gave them and it happened effortlessly (as compared to my previous attempts, not those of someone who actually knows what they are doing). I was stunned, I’m pretty sure G was stunned, and, at that point, poor Shrek wouldn’t have understoond our amazement if he’d noticed it. So I kept riding, then G asked me to spin again. Poor Shrek endured my poor cues and balance issues. Basically what it comes down to is that I’m unable to control more than one of my body parts at a time. If I concentrate on my hands, I lean forward and my knees clamp on the saddle, if I concentrate on opening my legs, my hands do wild things. So this part of my lesson was pretty frustrating for me (and G and Shrek I’m sure…).
While the first part of my lesson I felt like I had things mostly put together correctly, after trying to spin I felt like everything fell apart. G wanted me to ride quietly like Shrek was a pleasure horse to get him slowed down, which I did a lit better before working on spins than after. After working on the spins when Shrek got fast at the jog or lope, I was like, eh. screw it. I could see plainly that it was my fault that he was riding like he was. Most of the time when I was asking for the spins I was giving lope departure signals and/or accidentally touching his flank with my rein, so he was definitely thinking forward during the last half of our lesson.
I guess I could talk a little about the first half of our lesson since it was the better half. I mounted, walked him around a while, G told me to get him walking slow like a pleasure horse. Shrek is a lot more sensitive than I’m used to, so I think it would take consecutive rides for me to get relaxed enough to get him as slow as I’ve gotten Copper in the past. I did see changes in his speed when I followed G’s instructions, so that was nice. When I asked him to jog off the first time, he jogged off so softly that I was kind of surprised at how smooth the transition was. Everything in this lesson was better the first time I did it. The first lope set that we did was great too. His lope is so much different from the strung out field riding that Paige and I have been doing, and it felt great. My seat felt solid, I have no idea how it looked, but since G didn’t complain, I’m letting myself have that as an improvement.
Hopefully tonight I’ll have time to ride Paige, since she seemed to be over her silliness from the other night. Here is a gif of her bridleless ride with L on Wednesday. I can’t groan about mares anymore, mine is obviously the best ever.
And here is some video of Copper before everything went downhill Wednesday night for good measure.