For some reason yesterday I just was not feeling like doing anything other than going home and sitting on the couch and maybe reading a book. Those days are far and few between for me and while very occasionally I don’t feel excited about working with pony, some days it’s nice to just do other things, usually I at least want to do something.
At any rate yesterday was when my lesson was scheduled and with the barn move throwing off my schedule for the next week and a half it was important that I get this lesson in while I could. Plus I’m not someone that is willing to cancel a lesson last minute just because I don’t feel like it. I had talked myself into it by the time I left work and, thanks to Viva Carlos’ last quote, I wasn’t even whining too bad. I got to the barn and luckily the woman who is going to be trailering Katai on Saturday was there so we were able to talk through the plan for that day. I had received a text from my trimmer earlier and apparently we had scheduled a trim for that day (damn you iPhone calendar for not coming through for me!) but were able to get that in before the scheduled move so Katai will have nice short toes for her arrival to the new barn.
After that conversation I went out to get Katai and was surprised when she whinnied to me and walked up to me in the pasture. She never runs or moves away but normally she’s not clearly excited to see me. I felt renewed hope that this was going to be a great lesson. However, as I was grooming and tacking up she started to express her displeasure in small ways. She’s usually not naughty anymore during the process but she did a few things that were unlike her such as refusing to take the bit at first and stepping away when I went to put her saddle on. I’m still not exactly sure what was into her unless, like me, she just wasn’t feeling it that day.
As I walked into the ring L was showing up and warned me that she was early. I started to go through my normal warm up routine but Katai was clearly tight, tense, and didn’t want to go on the bit or listen to my legs so I started making her work earlier than I normally would. I’m not sure if it was that, the two days off in a row, or something else but once we started to trot and actually got into the lesson she was full of it. She just wanted to run and was allergic to any leg pressure. Finally after hopping up and down in place a few times I got her going forward and we went with it and started with the canter.
L let me know once we finally had some semblance of a calm pony that “She is setting the difficulty level and if she wants to do things the hard way and not listen she’s going to have to work and work until you are ready to let her rest.” Because of this we did a lot of canter and trot in a row and waiting awhile to give her a walk break. After that initial blow up though she did come back to good work again fairly quickly. I feel like this is our main improvement over the past few weeks since it used to take at least half an hour to get good work. Now she may still blow up but at least we get to good work after about 10 to 15 minutes.
Once we were back to a trot I mentioned to L that she was just not listening to my legs and at even the hint of pressure she was blowing through everything else to run. Since we had her actually going forward L had me do spiral circles at the walk on the bit and be REALLY picky about how she was moving, when, and where and having me put my leg and keep my leg on her so that she couldn’t get away from it. Slowly, after a few circles in each direction, we had a pony that was listening properly to each leg and not overreacting to leg aids so we moved up to a trot. She was still a little fast but she actually was listening to my aids and after I got her slowed down we did more trot spirals and then after some great work on bend to the left, which is her tough side, we went ahead and called it.
L mentioned again that she thought we looked really good at the end and that she agreed with me that we were making progress and it was great to get good work 10-15 minutes into the lesson rather than only for the last 10 minutes. She said that I need to focus on doing what she needs when she needs it. If that’s canter right at the beginning that’s what I need to work on, if she’s in front of my leg but not listening to independent leg aids I need to do some slower walk spirals to take the tension out of leg aids etc. L also mentioned that at some point she would like to ride her. I think she was waiting for me to be displeased about it but actually I’m really proud since this is because she wants to be sure we aren’t headed in the wrong direction and that means that she thinks we can actually get places. She’s never mentioned riding her before, probably because it wasn’t worth the risk to herself to ride such a green, naughty, pony who wasn’t showing any real ability. Now that she is L wants to help me make sure that I’m not creating a habit or problem that will haunt us later and that makes me happy.
Unfortunately H wasn't able to make it because she was feeling under the weather so I still don't have anymore new photos or video. Coming soon hopefully!
I think my next lesson will be on Tuesday but with the hoof trim on Saturday and the move we’re going to play it by ear and see how she’s doing. Now I just need to make sure that I ride consistently before the move/hooftrim so that we can have a productive lesson!