Thursday, July 3, 2014

That went well

I got to ride Chess again today! Whoop whoop! The group lesson was moved to the morning this week, which I can't do because of work, so Miss S was going to give me a half hour private. It turned into over an hour of intense work.

Miss S told me that I could warm-up before the lesson, so I got to the barn early and set to work. I put on the saddle with the girth loose and got his halter on. I decided to do some groundwork first because, apparently, doing groundwork right before you ride is beneficial. I have to find the article again though. The link has disappeared from my grasp. We walked all the way around the arena first, then I did some backing and yielding of the hindquarters. After that, I did a bunch of transitions from the walk to the trot and back down and back up. He was responding really well. The only issue was with the back up. He kept wanting to move his hip to the right . . . ? When he was a baby, he had surgery in his left stifle, which might be a reason, but I wanted him to back up straight, so I made him back up straight.

I got on him right after to school a bit. He was great until we got to the "scary" end of the arena. I must admit, it's a pretty scary end, but he's seen it multiple times in the past, plus that was where we spent most of our time on the groundwork. He threw a fit and flat out refused to listen on that end of the arena. Just to my luck, that's when Miss S showed up.

She had me come out of the arena so she could water it and made me ride around in the pasture. It was a slight task to get from the arena to the pasture because Chess saw the gate open and was like, "FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FFFFFOOOOODDDDD." Many circles and leg yields later, we get into the pasture and start trotting around and finally get something productive done. I just did a bunch of figure-8s with him at the trot. He was bending so nicely when we weren't facing the barn but then kept bowing out when I tried to bend him away from the barn. To that I say, Chesapeake, I would like to introduce you to my right leg.

We kept figure-8-ing until Miss S started telling me to do things. Shelby joined soon after. She had me canter a circle to the left just to see what his canter felt like. It's still weird. It'll always be weird with the shoes that he has on, but he's sound so I'm okay with it.

When we went to go back into the arena, Chess again associated the gate with rushing. Another set of circles and leg yields later, we finally get into the arena. It was lots of trot work at the beginning, first posting trot, then sitting trot to set up the canter, then canter. His departures weren't too consistent at first, and he broke a lot. I think that will end up being the main issue for the two of us. I need to keep him going without letting him cave or cut corners or come a whole lot off the rail. He doesn't entirely respect my leg yet, but I plan on fixing that as promptly as possible.

Unlike Baby, Chess's bad lead is his right lead because of his surgery. I could make him step off into the canter, but it was incredibly hard to stop him from breaking, leaning, and getting extremely hollow—to the point where it's entirely uncomfortable to be sitting in the saddle.

We took a little break then finished out the lesson with a tiny crossbar as a trot fence. He stopped the first two times as that is a habit that he has gotten into. Just like with the lack of respect for my leg, he will learn not to do that at least with me. He now likes to take longer distances too while also hesitating, so I was popped every jump, but I basically threw the reins down to stop from hitting him in the face. I think we got two good-ish jumps where I didn't get thrown back to New Years. Lots of pats for the good boy.

In terms of my own riding, my right leg was doing a thing. I don't even know what it was doing, but the stirrup felt long, even though I checked on Monday to make sure that they were even and they haven't been changed since then. I was having a lot of difficulty keeping the leg in contact with my saddle without pinching my knee. My left leg was completely fine. Perhaps I have thrown a joint out of place and need to be adjusted. My legs and shoulders in general have come back. They still need some ways to go. Unfortunately, I noticed in the pictures from today that my hips are farther back then usual. This *might* have to do with the fact that Miss S told me to keep my weight as far back on Chess as I could since that's how he's trained. It's something that I'll have to wait until next time to confirm, but I'm hoping it was incidental. I'm really happy about my legs and shoulders, why you gotta quit on me now, hips, why?

I've made the decision not to show Chess this season and to wait until late fall/winter. We haven't had enough time together nor will there be a whole lot of time for me to ride him in the next two months, so he's being put on the back burner. I'm going to focus all of what I've got into improving Baby and me as a team. I have planned lots of no-stirrup work, serpentines, two-pointing, and transitions (and no jumping during my personal rides which apparently we weren't allowed to do in the first place, whoops).

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