Me....not so much. (Photos are from Wednesday night)
But really, we had an amazing lesson. Katai is getting better so much more consistently and she has given up the worst of her fight and is just staying so much more relaxed. She's also understanding contact better and not getting back to that sewing machine trot that was haunting us for so long.
L is impressed and that makes me happy because she is someone who is tough to impress.
We started out the lesson a bit early since her previous lesson was getting worn out because her horse was not reacting to the new arena well (she also just moved to this barn) so L and I started talking while I warmed up. I brought up that I'd really like to start showing next year and L is thankfully on board. She actually brought up rated shows, when I was just thinking schooling, and didn't want to commit to me starting in intro level!!! She said that we should see how things go over the winter, reminded me that we have eight months, and said that we should see where we are before we start talking about which level to start at. It's so encouraging to me when the expert seems to think that we may not need to start at ground zero based on our progress this winter.
Lookit how much better her underneck is!!
Then we got into the meat of the lesson and started working at the trot. L was happy with how she was to start off today which I think is a first! It certainly helps that I've been riding more consistently lately but I think Katai is also finally starting to understand her job. I think that the improvement in our relationship is a huge part of this too since I'm not picking fights with her and she's starting to realize that I'm not going to. I'm also focusing on rewarding her more which is really, really helping more than I ever would have thought it would. She is a bit of a diva and really likes the verbal praise more than any horse I've ever worked with in the past so that's working for us as well.
After a really decent set of trot circles and some of the most balanced changes of direction that we've done we took a walk break and then when we went back to a trot L added something new. She said that she wanted to work on our transitions. I think this was partially based on our conversation from earlier but it could have been on the docket anyway. She said that it's time to start working on balance in those transitions which will help keep her from throwing her head in the air and getting bent out of shape about them. To work on this she had me make a 20 meter circle and then make a really small (smaller than 10 meter circle in this case since I have a small pony) against a wall and as we were heading towards the wall either make the transition up or down.
Why you no pet me humon?
After the first couple of times I realized that I always throw the transition at her and hope for the best and really just stop riding entirely until we are back at a comfortable rhythm. This made me really stop and think and make sure I was riding her in a nice, consistent bend and asking her inside leg to really come up under her body for the transition. We started with her less balanced side so she got a little bent out of shape initially but after a brief break we tried again and had some really nice moments. On the other side she did even better so eventually L had me try a transition on a more normal 20 meter circle and it was great! She wants me to do more sitting trot in and out of the transitions so that I have more tools to actually ride them rather than throwing them at Katai.
Then, after another nice walk break we went to the canter. I had told L that I think I finally figured out my canter transition cue because Katai has been taking the correct lead in both directions and just doing a much better transition. She wanted to watch and see what she could add to it. I did the first one and it was a little rough but she took the correct lead and the rest of the transitions we did were excellent!! I told her that I was doing exactly what she had been telling me but that I had read it in a book and the way they described it finally clicked :-)
Speaking of that we also talked about clinics and clinicians while I walked Katai out and it sounds like there's a really good one coming to our barn either later this winter or early in the spring. L encouraged me to audit and see if I'd like to take a lesson with her the next time she's out here and I'm really excited to do so!
Starting to feel like home
Finally, can I just rave about my new barn for a minute! It is so amazing and the people are just so nice. Katai is finally getting the level of care that I've been wanting and that's basically just someone taking her best interest in mind and doing the little things. I had noticed on Saturday when I rode that her left eye was slightly goopy. I cleaned it off, thinking she just got some dust in it, and when it didn't look swollen or like she was squinty or anything I just went ahead and turned her back out after our ride. When I got there today though someone had been wonderful enough to put a mask on her. That would never have happened at the last barn and it was just so thoughtful. Then when I saw the owner and thanked her I also asked her opinion about next steps since her eye was more goopy today rather than less. I grew up on a farm so my tendency is to wait fairly long to call the vet and as the new person at the barn the last thing I want is to have someone think that I'm not providing my horse with good care. She also felt that it made sense to wait a bit longer but said that she had some ointment and then not only found it for me but got it into Katai's eye with minimal fuss despite Katai not being easy about it. She was kind and gentle but firm with her and it makes me so confident to know that she is caring for my horse. I've really never had a BM before that is like this.
I'll try to get more barn pictures soon but they are still in the moving in process so there are some areas that are still kind of a disaster and I don't want to share until things are going more normally so that it is a better representation of the type of care that the BM is providing :-)
There is also a wonderful community there and when I stayed to watch another of L's lessons, which I've never been able to do before, one of her students had me in stiches as she pretended to coach L who had climbed up on the student's horse since he was being naughty.
I'm sooooo happy that I made the decision to move here!