Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Keeping it real

I was going to put this riding recap post off another day, but my little nugs of information I jot down after each ride have already reached an obnoxious level so off it goes. Every ride on Opie is a different ride as he comes out a different horse each day. Which is fine. If he was the same horse every time right now, we'd never be progressing.

Or regressing and then progressing. Gotta keep it interesting.


Last week was a flip-flop of rides. One day he was very good, the next day he was trippin'. Next day good, day after literally tripping. As in, I almost emergency dismounted because I thought my horse had broken his leg and was falling to his death as his whole front end disappeared from underneath me, but no. Just tripping. At the walk.

You guys, paying attention to your feet is the actual hardest when you could be focusing on other things--like horny birds flying around your head. Or air molecules, I don't know.

Let's start with the bad first so we can finish on the good.


The ride after BM got on Opie last week, I tried to emulate what she had done. Slow the walk, slow the trot, make the horse lift his back and be responsible for himself--mostly though, be a straight horse. He started off being super distracted and losing his balance every few strides, but we wrapped up on a good note. More on that in a minute.

In my lesson Friday, we continued those themes. It was a really, really frustrating lesson. At one point I wanted to quit and be like, "This isn't working, we need to do something else." But when I first started riding with BM I wished that she had been there when I restarted all of my previous track horses. She's so good with the basics that I trust her methods even if they don't produce instant results--which of course they're not going to. I can't expect my green bean to pick up on a whole new way of going and perfect it within the space of ten minutes.

EVEN IF I WANT TO.

We spent what felt like eons at a slow jog on a long rein. Opie had to lift his back. Opie had to be straight. Opie had to be responsible for his own balance. Opie had to stretch down from the base of his neck. Carly was not allowed to fiddle and manipulate and over-ride and pounce the instant Opie didn't do any of the above.

LITERALLY THE WORST THO.

And then Opie had to maintain all of the above while I picked him up and moved him out into a working trot at which point I had a meltdown over my posting. BM was all:


I want to thrust myself up out of the saddle with fucking vigor when I post. This is apparently not correct. Who knew. BM basically told me to chill the fuck out--I feel like that's my takeaway from every lesson but sometimes all the time I CANNOT. I need to think of letting my horse bump me out of the saddle and as high as he bumps me is as high as I'm allowed to post. If he doesn't bump me ten feet out of the saddle, I probably do not need to be making up that extra space all on my own.

She also told me to weight the ball of my foot evenly as I want to weight just the outside of my foot really heavily and it's not helping with my balance.

In one ride this has revolutionized my posting. I don't feel like I'm tipping forward and losing my balance every time I post up, and in return I'm not affecting my horse's balance at the trot. I guess this is why we have trainers or something.

She made us finish with a couple canters each way in which things spiraled out of control and Opie forgot that he was being a perfect dressage pony seconds before. No. Now he was an anticipatory rage beast ready to canter (badly) at a moment's notice.

BM said, "Pick up the canter."
And I said, "I hate you."
And BM pointed out, "You're the one who wants to show."


The good news is that ever since BM's ride last week, my leg hasn't hurt once. I've been starting Opie off right away with haunches-in both directions at the walk. The theory with the leg pain is that he wasn't straight, and by not using his right side/lifting his back on that side, it was causing my hip to drop into a dead space instead of having a space to sit. Get the horse straight, I can sit evenly again, the pain disappears. So long, peg leg life. You won't be missed.

After getting him even, we move on to a slow trot to settle the brain and make it start thinking about what legs are. If he's particularly distracted, a little left-right flexion--and I'm not talking about head cranking to his shoulder, it's literally tipping his nose one way and then the other--gives his gerbils something to think about instead of outside noises.

Always thinking ahead to how what I'm doing is going to work in a show atmosphere, he seems to need a couple of short canters to get the stupid out before he's there for me in them, moreso to the right than left.

The canter itself is faster than what I'm looking for, but it's what he can maintain in balance so I'm working with it. I'd rather him be quick and covering a lot of ground and relaxed-ish than slow and tense and flailing around angrily because he can't hold it.


We've reached the point where I'm starting to tackle test riding in earnest. The horse can go around and do all the things separately, but we need to work on making the transitions more prompt while keeping the relaxation, and steering is always an area to improve upon.

First batch of entries went in the mail today. Time to slay, Dopie!

24 comments:

  1. Woohoo!! All exciting developments - sometimes lessons don't go the way we want, but sometimes they are the lessons we need :) Glad Opie is being a good boy for you.

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    1. It might drive me crazy during the lesson, but the very next ride is always improved so I have to be a grown up and grit my teeth and push through it. Ugh, just the worst sometimes! ;)

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  2. Ah trainers are the worst! Always telling you what to fix and how to do it...why can't they just say good job every time we ride? ;) hahaha j/k!!!! But glad peg leg life is over!

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    1. Right?? Just sprinkle some magical fairy trainer dust over me and send me on my way with no bad habits.

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  3. omfg your memes are on point. dying.

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  4. I’m up at 2am with kids that won’t sleep which is decidedly not funny, but this entire post is funny. I’m doing my first batch of entries too with my green bean, so excited!

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    1. Ahh yay! Can't wait to see you back out there!

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  5. Omg that posting thing, tho. Why is it so tempting to literally STAND RIGHT UP in the saddle? Why can't I stop?

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    1. It's literally my favorite thing in the entire world. MAKE IT STOP.

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  6. Sounds like lots of progress and trainers are the best even if sometimes I like to think they’re the worst

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    1. He's definitely taking steps forward even if they're hard work for both of us.

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  7. Ugh Ramone couldn't even GPS his feet, he had no fucking clue. It got better the more balanced and strong he was but until they are strong and balanced like, its such an uphill slog. commiseration and sounds like your BM is a great person to have in your training corner

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    1. Yeah the GPS likes to reroute at really inconvenient times!

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  8. I'm still stuck on the air molecules...I think that must be what Q spooked at for years. Maybe I should donate her vision to science.

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  9. I had a trainer years ago that kept me accountable for how I'd let my weight slide to the outside of my feet in the stirrups (always ended up in a stabby kind of sore instead of just oh I worked out sore) and I've only recently (literally last two rides) realized I'm doing the same damn thing again! *facepalm* so many problems. One stupid hard answer. Hope the strength and balance trains are starting to pick up steam for your special pony though!

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    1. It's amazing how such a simple fix can make such a huge difference! Now I have to train my brain that balance over the entire ball of my foot is the way to go. SO HARD.

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  10. Horse training would be way easier if you just could sit them down and be like, "this is how you do." And then horse was like "I got dis."
    But seriously, it sounds like Opie really is coming right along! And I'm glad you figured out the peg leg situation.

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    1. Omg right?? Like, I would not be bouncing around on your back like a moron if you could not bounce around underneath me LIKE A MORON.

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  11. Are we the same person? I think maybe. Definitely relate so hard to the struggle to make baby horses be big learned horses! Even though your baby is much more a baby then mine obvi, I still get it!

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    1. It's those fucking tiny details in riding amirite?!

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.