Friday, August 15, 2008


I know it's been a long time, but since hubby has been out of town, I just haven't had the time to blog. I have composed at least a dozen in my head though, it just loses something if I don't write it right away.

Today, I want to talk about instincts when riding. Maybe instinct is not the right word, but I can't think of a better one. What I am referring to is when you are pretty sure you are doing something to make the horse react a certain way (as opposed to it just being the "stupid school horse"), but you don't know what it is.

During my lesson on Monday, Calico gave a few half-hearted bucks during the first half. I was immediately thinking "what am I doing to elicit this reaction?" I thought about my legs and hands, and my balance. I thought my hands were pretty good, she wasn't fussy with her head as I know she can be, she softened nicely and gave me some incredible bending. My legs were stronger than any other lesson on her, as they are progressively getting stronger. It had been two weeks since my last ride, so perhaps I was out of whack, even though I felt pretty good. During a relaxed walk, I mentioned the issue to some of the other students, again stating that I was looking for what I was doing to irritate Calico. Everyone said "Oh no, she's just like that." or something to the effect. Hmmm. To my credit, I didn't really believe them. So, I described what I was feeling and experiencing to my instructor, who did not witness any of the bucks - it would have been great timing for a show, but not for a lesson! She also told me it was nothing I was doing. I also asked how to signal for Calico to slow down properly -she rushes, especially when there are a lot of poles in a row at the canter. I tend to lean back because she is not very responsive to reins (she is usually ridden in a pelham with double reins -I hate them and only had single reins on the upper ring of the same bit). So I wanted to learn how to signal her better with my seat.

So then we start to individually go through this crazy course the instructor set up with poles and bending lines (on the flat). And, surprise surprise, Calico gives the best buck yet. I made her keep going - I know I wasn't hurting her, she was protesting to something on a small scale. We finished, although not prettily (until the end, where I think my determination made her realize she wasn't getting anywhere and she might as well pay attention).

My instructor realized that it was when I get behind the motion that Calico gets upset. Yay! Finally, I begin to get an answer. I knew it was me all along. The funny thing was that I guess I knew all along what the problem was. I was asking about the bucking and asking about how to not get behind the motion when she rushes. Duh! The two issues were really one and the same. So I guess my instincts are pretty good and I should learn to trust them more, even when others brush it off.

That leaves me with things to work on:
- I need to practice two-point position for balance and strength.
- I would still love to ride without a saddle. I won't do this on Cherokee because I always ride alone at the farm. The lessons at the stables are what they are. I will ask the instructor if she ever does this - when I took lessons oh-so-long ago, we would periodically have lessons bareback.
- I have certain gaps: although I am riding quite well and keeping up with the experienced class even though it's been 10 years since I had a lesson, I have gaps in my basics that I would like to deal with. I intend to ask Allison (instructor) if she does private lessons so I can focus on what I need to work on.

I have many, many other goals, but these are the ones at the forefront of my mind tonight. I am SO loving having this feedback. I think the others are a little mystified about me looking for constuctive criticism and joking about my faults. I'm pretty sure they think I'm insecure or something. Ha! Graduate school taught me to love hearing what I can do better and not take it terribly personally. Hey, if you really want to improve you have to put that aside, right?