I had an amazing lesson today.
Let me just take a minute to squee about my pony! She was so wonderful today, she was listening and thinking rather than just reacting. Somehow between my mood, my pony's mood, and L's instruction everything just worked perfectly tonight.
It's been a rough couple of weeks on the pony riding front. Katai has been crabby, speedy, and just not herself. I found a place on the lower right side of her neck where she was a little reactive so I'm hoping that that's all it was. That lump is getting smaller (maybe she was kicked?) but I'm having the saddle fitter/horse massage expert come out to check and likely reflock my saddle since it's settled a fair bit since I got it in July.
I'm not especially good about being motivated to write when things aren't going well. I tend to sort of withdraw into myself and have a tough time putting it down on paper or journaling it on this blog. It's something that I'd like to work on since those are the things that will probably be the most interesting to go back and read someday but it's tough to blog when that motivation isn't there. At any rate my New Years Resolution is going to be about blogging more regularly next year.
Anyway, back to the lesson today!
We started off warming up at the walk and L was working with me right away since she was running a little early. She gave us a few loops to warm up and then, pony was prancy, helped me get a more consistent walk before suggesting that I do some trot work before we had a blow up. Katai was hot to start out and really wanted to canter but she was also listening and not having a temper tantrum so instead of pushing her forward, like we've had to do for the last few rides, we were able to insist on the trot. It didn't take her too long to give in and behave at the trot and then we went back to walk.
Katai is pretty sure that the walk isn't a gait. In her opinion it's just a way to get to the faster more exciting stuff and we should just skip it, or come as close to skipping it as possible. She get's bored quickly and uses any excuse to go faster, ie. leg cues, and then tries to race off. She's very balanced, athletic, and convincing so it's been a tough gait to work on. Today though she was listening enough for us to do some trot/walk/trot transitions. L had me vary the number of strides of walk that we did every time so that she wouldn't start counting and after several to each side a had a pony that was finally in front of my leg. This has also been a struggle because pony is always moving so fast that she never really needs me to give her much of a cue to speed up so then she doesn't understand it when I do ask and gets all bent out of shape over any little squeeze of my legs. Tonight, once we did those transitions, she was AMAZING. I finally had the ability to work on half halts! Oddly enough everything just works better when your horse appropriately reacts to forward cues.
Who would have known!
I've gone back to reading the book Light and Easy Dressage which I reviewed previously. It makes such a difference for me and really helps me find and keep the right mindset. Pony is a mare, and mares need praise. She does not need me nitpicking everything she does, she's a perfectionist like me and is insecure about certain things and needs someone to encourage her and bring her up. I can praise her for even moving in the right direction and it gets better rather than worse since then she relaxes and has some confidence. This is something that I forget way too often but reading this book, a little every day, on a regular basis really helps me keep that mindset. Based on that I praised her through the entire lesson today and made sure that I made plenty of opportunities for her to do things right and get pats. I really believe that it's part of what made the huge difference in my ride today over my ride last week and is something that I plan to keep up!
Next week I'll finally get back to my five ride per week schedule although one of those days I may lunge and clip rather than ride. Katai has been getting too sweaty and although I took off a decent amount of hair she's grown a lot back and is just working hard enough at this point for me to remove a whole bunch more. I'm thinking that I'll pretty much do a blanket clip and this time I'll do better at documenting that in pictures!
Upcoming I also did a little black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping and bought myself a birthday gift from no other than my favorite store, Horze! I got four more saddle pads #saddlepadobsession (all in the $20 range and made specifically for dressage ponies) as well as a set of 4 cheap dressage boots in brown. I adore Katai's pink boots but I really need a second pair so that I can get these in the wash and still protect my little dressage star's legs. I plan on getting a set of navy from that same company but they are $90 per pair and that's just not in the budget right now so this set will work in the meantime and they'll match three of my saddle pads which will be nice! Supposedly the timing is actually supposed to be dead on and they're supposed to arrive right on my birthday so we'll see if that actually happens :-)
At any rate I'll try to be better at blogging this week and will certainly be better about pictures.