Wednesday, July 31, 2013

(cont'd) One show and two lessons later . . .

Continuing with my previous post since it was about a show and two lessons, one of which I cannot recall anymore. I had my second lesson with Miss E after cancelling two weeks in a row (it hurts more than you think). I wasn't allowed to ride Buddy for the lesson because of an accident he had the previous week with another girl. He tripped again, but he went far enough down for the girl to come off, so Miss E wants the vet to look at him just to make sure everything is okay.

Instead, I rode a mare named Jazzy. The whole grooming and tacking up process made me start my lesson a bit discouraged. First, Miss E has a lot of horses, and I have been to her barn a total of three times. I cannot possibly remember who all the horses are in that amount of time. She told me I was riding Jazzy, pointed to the mare's stall, and said, "You're riding Jazzy. She looks kind of like a mule, but she jumps well. Close the stall door when you go to put her halter on or she'll try to barge out of there." I kind of laughed to myself and went to the stall. I get into the stall and brush her off. As I'm doing so, I take a good look at her and think to myself, She doesn't look like a mule. I finished brushing off the horse and went to the tack room to grab a saddle. Miss E and a couple of other people were in there talking to each other. When I entered the tack room, Miss E saw me and quickly grabbed the saddle pads she wanted me to use. "You'll need the extra padding for Jazzy's sway back," she noted. At that point, I thought, Huh? The horse I brushed off looked nothing like a mule, hadn't even thought about running out of the stall, and didn't look at all to be suffering from equine lordosis. So, as a confused me lugged the saddle back to the mare's stall, I noticed 1) the mare was not in the stall, and 2) the mare was with another student who was tacking her up. I went up to the adult helping the student and asked what the horse's name was. She replied, "Penny." I asked her where Jazzy was. She pointed to the stall directly next to the stall that Penny was in. Long story short, I brushed off the wrong horse. At least I hadn't tacked her up yet.

I put the saddle down and got some brushes to groom the real Jazzy with. Let me tell you, Miss E was not exaggerating when it came to that horse looking like a mule. She's a sweet pony, but her ears are just long and her face is quite coarse. The sway back and desire to bust out of the stall were also obvious. After I got her brushed off, I took her out of the stall and tied her up to the cross ties so I could tack her up. I put the saddle on with all the pads and whatnot, and this mare would not stand still. She kept moving around and turning her but and walking forward and walking back. I got a friend to hold her for me, but she was still moving around a whole bunch when I was trying to girth her up. My friend had to go tack up her horse, so she traded positions with Miss E's daughter. Miss E's daughter is a very educated horsewoman and could tell that something was wrong when Jazzy refused to stand still. She took a good look and blankly said that the saddle was too far back. I wanted to just drop dead right then. First impressions are really important for me, and it didn't appear that Miss E's daughter was having the best of days. I can imagine that I only irritated her more and came off as the most beginning of beginners that can't even tack a horse up correctly. That was definitely not the impression that I wanted to make.

Moving on, I finally manage to actually get the horse entirely tacked up and I mounted. At this point, I was feeling very discouraged due to my double screw up from earlier, and I'm not the most confident person in the world to begin with. I get into the ring, walk for a little while, then Miss E asks us to pick up a trot. This mare Jazzy becomes a lot like Duke at this point, not in that she's a lazy bum that would rather do the slowest western pleasure jog in the world as opposed to moving out like she was born to but more because of the fact that she has a coughing fit when she starts trotting. The reins on her bridle are the same as the ones pictured below . . .


. . . and I don't wear gloves when I ride. Think about it. Bare hands, reins like sandpaper, and a horse who's head keeps going down because she's got to cough. My ring fingers are blister mania right now. Three layers of skin are gone, and the fourth layer is completely raw and hurts like a . . . female dog. I also got a random Charlie Horse during my ride even though I hadn't eaten anything yet that day (I'm not big on breakfast when I wake up at home). The cramp comes while I'm posting the trot, and Miss E has us trot for a looooonnnnngg time. Then, after she's had us do the posting trot for a while, she says "Sitting trot!" and I thought to myself, Kill me. Probably the most painful laps of sitting trot in my life. The rest of our flatwork consisted of trotting 20 meter circles, trotting 10 meter circles, and cantering the whole arena. No leg yielding this lesson. I was kinda saddened by this. Leg yielding is fun.

We moved on to warming up for jumping, and at that point my toes became a big problem (yet again). Jumping in general was much better than my last lesson on Buddy. Jazzy is a good little jumper. Gets her strides nice and just goes. We did our cavalettis first, then bounces. Yeah, those were still bad, but I've never been good with those. Went to the jumper arena and started doing patterns. Much better than last time in terms of pace, control, and form, but still having trouble with my lower leg and hands (oh Lord, my hands). We each picked a course again to finish off the lesson. The jumps had been moved since my last lesson, so I was having trouble picking which jumps I wanted to do since the angles were different. I went last, and when my turn came around, I totally winged it. I literally picked which jump I was going over first and went from there. I took some pretty dodgy turns, but in terms of setting up my horse correctly, I nailed it like a pro. Miss E was seemed genuinely impressed. She kept me afterwards for a little while to do some one on one work with turning (I tend to pull out with a long rein to get my horse to go one way or the other when I should be pulling back, just a bad habit). Overall, when I comes to jumping I need to work on:

     -Hands: more release and be softer
     -Lower leg: grip with the calf, not the knee
     -Upper body: shoulders back, come up off of the horse's front end, core strength/support
     -Feet: heels down, TOES STRAIGHT! (on the flat too)
     -Stay in two-point longer

Gripping with the knee is probably the worst issue I have. I did it enough during this lesson that my knees were aching when I got home. I couldn't even bend my right knee *insert sad/embarrassed face*. I'm happy with my lesson though. It was a huge improvement from last time. I got to ride another pony afterwards. Probably the cutest thing for anyone to ride, except for when you ask her to canter. At that point she got sassy, but I nipped that in the butt quickly. After a quick ride I spent some time with the 3 1/2 month old Chincoteague Pony weanling that Miss E's daughter brought home. The filly is basically wild with minimal handling, and it was a challenging trying to catch her. When I finally got a hold of her, she darted back, and I just went with her because I didn't want to pull on her neck too much. My thought process was basically,"Oh, you want to go back? Okay, we can go back. I like adventures!" She's the typical wild and unhandled until you sit there and pet her for a moment. After that she's like your best friend. She even fell asleep in my arms at one point. I'll see if I can get some pictures of her next week.

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