Tuesday, June 17, 2014

There was a High School Musical reference made

 I'll apologize now for the novel, but I couldn't document 2.5 hours worth of riding in a shorter way.

So I survived the clinic. What a relief. It was moved up an hour earlier than it had been originally planned, so I had to wake up at 6:30am, school year time. I got to the barn just before 7:30. Baby was, well, dusty, but I think her hose down on Sunday helped to minimize the amount of dirt I would have to brush off of her. I ended up having to switch from my blue saddle pad to my burgundy one; my original outfit had a blue shirt and a pair of grey breeches which I had ordered last Tuesday, but it appears that I got the short end of the stick when it comes to shipping. The items didn't arrive until today, in the afternoon, plus the gloves were missing. I wore my pink polo and jean breeches. I felt so under dressed, but at least I was clean and had my shirt tucked in.
The whole clean thing didn't last too long. It was hot, even at eight in the morning. TWC has a thunderstorm warning going until midnight. I don't want to seem like a know it all, but, don't you have to have clouds to have a thunderstorm? There was no cloud coverage what so ever. Any thunderstorms that happened would have been more akin to War of the Worlds than severe weather. Of course, I forgot my water bottle at home, which caused me to down four cups of lemonade when we finished. We all warmed up before our clinician, Miss Marianne, arrived. I forgot to mention that the fly spray we use also attracts a lot more dirt than I had expected. By the time Miss Marianne was ready to go, Baby looked like she had rolled just prior to me getting on. I was just misted in sweat. All in all, I don't think it looked like the prettiest picture, or, at least, it wasn't the picture that I had envisioned (but, then again, I also envision myself on a big bodied, thick boned warmblood stallion jumping six foot at WEG, so perhaps I hold myself to an unrealistic standard).

The first thing we did was introductions, then we moved onto a short lecture on "Position One" and "The 5 God Given Cues". "Position One" refers to the classical alignment of the body on the horse. Essentially, it's the first position that you learn, or should learn, when you start riding. The importance of it is that every position that we go into comes from Position One. Something about Position One changes, but not everything. The 5 God Given Cues are your eyes, voice, hands, seat, and legs, basically things that almost everyone is born with and can be used to tell the horse something.
After the lecture, there was a lot of trot work, which I guess had a lecture to go along with it, but it wasn't a standing lecture, it was more of a typical, do-what-I-say-and-don't-question-it, trainer lecture. What I learned during that is that I am stiff in my back (which actually explains so much). I need to bring my shoulders back, sit taller, and keep my hips under my shoulders. Surprisingly, doing all that seemed to bring my leg back quite a bit (although my stirrups were uneven; I had to adjust them on Friday and guessed when I put them back on the saddle, gah!).That's thing No. 1 to remember when I ride.

The back stiffness actually continued on into the canter, but the big issue was me using my hands too much and not enough leg. We're all cantering round and round, and it's getting hot. Miss Marianna is focusing on me for the moment and asked me to stand up, put my reins in one hand, put my other hand on my hip, and steer with my legs. Now, I felt like quite the queen in my pink polo with my pearls and riding one handed, but then she said, "Everybody walk . . . except Taylor." And that's when my little queen bubble burst. I think I did a quarter of a lap by myself before she allowed me to stop.
Oh Jesus . . .
Everyone went to their drinks after that, but Miss Marianne and I had a little one on one where she talked to me about my hands and my back and so on. One of her key phrases in reference to hands was "Have a party" which isn't as bad as it sounds, I swear. It meant that the hands and the arm should give to the horses stride rather than my stiff backed upper body. The "party" meant movement. She also asked me what I struggled with when it came to jumping. I told her that stopping was the only issue that I had with Baby, but I also made sure to mention how Baby always used to refuse to the left (religiously, and not just with me). I told her how Baby hadn't stopped at all when I rode her on Sunday, and I presented the thought that I ride differently when I ride alone, more firm is what I told her. That's where I was told about the triangle and the box. I have a box. That box includes everyone that goes to shows and rides with me, all my friends and horse show moms, and Baby and Miss S, but, within that box is a triangle. One point of the triangle is me, another point is Baby, and the final point is Miss S. When I go into the ring, I should only focus on who is in the triangle (I'm going to start an exclusive, equestrian themed club called The Triangle because of this). When I'm in the ring, I always focus on everyone, I almost depend on them to say something every time I go over a fence, or get a refusal, or come by the in gate; that's just what I'm used to. So, from now on guys, if I completely blow you off while I'm in the ring, it's not because I hate you, it's because I'm in my triangle, and my triangle is very comfy and important to me.
Now that the triangle has been established and the riders have been hydrated, we moved on to a bit of jumping. We warmed up with a cross bar that had a trot pole in front of it. I went over it twice, and the issue again was the hands and how I would break my wrists and turn my hands down (eheheh, turn down for what?) whenever Baby got too fast or broke into a canter. Seat and leg, seat and leg, seat and leg. That's what I intend on repeating to myself when I ride this weekend. Seat and leg, seat and leg, seat and leg.
First time over; it got better
We moved on to a little pattern. The cross bar went up to a twelve incher, and she added the red diagonal line and the outside line to the whole thing. When I had to go, she reminded me of my triangle, which Miss S was kicked out of momentarily. As we were cantering, Miss Marianne had me sit, and when I say sit, I mean sit. She actually liked my half seat, but the minute she saw me going around a corner, she had me sitting. "This is a leg ride!" she said, and guess what? It is a leg ride! It's always a leg ride! Everything starts with the legs, and I know this, and I don't doubt it one bit, but I've gotten into the habit of going to my hands first and not using leg as often as I should. The deep seated Stubben came in handy today. Seat down, legs around, weight dropping straight through my body to the heels, and hands up. I need this woman's voice on a recording that I can play whenever I ride with her yelling, "Sit! Sit! SIT! Leg! More leg! Hands up! One, two, good. SIT!" At first, I was a little flustered. I struggled with seeing my distance in the diagonal line, which led to some pretty shoddy equitation over the second fence, then I let my leg and seat off, which led to a cut and a lean going into the outside line, but the strides were nice. We got a bit of a longer distance, but Baby took it like a champ.

The next thing Miss Marianne did was put up a 2'6" oxer, and, although I voted against, we added another course to the end of it (any and all kind relations with my lesson group have been soiled), which included the triple. Of course, I go to do this thing, I'm trying to glue my butt to the saddle, I have my leg on, and all I get up there, and I'm like, "Shit, where's the stride?" Baby still jumped it. I went up and then back and then I don't even know, but I stayed on and I only lost one stirrup. It was only slightly embarrassing. I laughed a bit while they weren't looking. Miss Marianne had me do the rest of the pattern, which was flawless up until the last two fences in the triple. I went slightly off balance going in, so Baby was going right as we got up to the second fence. Guess what I did???? I use my rein instead of my leg. God bless this horse and her forgiving mouth. I went way off balance over the second, so she just stopped at the third, despite my pushing, but I honestly would have come off if she jumped it. I ended up on her neck, but she saved my booty right there. We went and did it again fine, then I had to do the whole thing again since I still fucked up the oxer in the beginning. It was much better. I saw the stride and we took it nicely, then I got right back down in my saddle and put my leg on for the diagonal — jump, seven, jump — then right on to the outside line — jump, six, "LEG!", jump — and finally the triple, where I lost my stirrup for the whole thing, but it was my outside stirrup, and I don't even think she noticed, so ha!

At the end of that is where she talked again about the triangle and having certain things to focus on. "Get your head in the game. Take the shot. You might miss, but you took it. Swing the bat. You might not hit, but you swung."
I might add that she also compared Position One to ballet. Sorry, Miss Marianne, but I don't dance.

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