Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contact: Lesson Recap 9/27

Yesterday I was REALLY dragging all day. I was so tired that I felt like I couldn’t keep my eyes open and my head hurt all day. I made it through work, barely, and left about an hour early. I used my extra time at home to make some good food and make sure I just sat and rested for a little while and then I headed to the barn for my lesson.

I struggled to stay awake on the drive there but once there as soon as I started moving I felt better. Because of traffic I was running a little late so I tacked Katai up fairly quickly. As I was getting her ready both Jane and I noticed that she was being quite sassy. There was a lot of ear pinning, ugly faces, and she even nipped at me when I went to tighten her girth for probably the first time ever. I’m going to consider treatment for ulcers but also I’m sure it’s her time of the month. She was touchy about her lower back and was so, so, stiff that she turned around without bending her body at all, like a 2x4.

Poor mare! I really like Jane’s take on this though and that is that riding can be the best therapy if you take the horse’s needs into account and ride them correctly. Instead of saying poor baby and leaving her in her stall to be stiff, we headed to the arena to help her get moving correctly and feeling better.

We started off focusing on a nice relaxed, regular walk rhythm while doing 5-6 loop serpentines up and down the arena. Jane wanted me to really focus on the bend and think of my inside arm like a piston that I draw straight back to keep/get/enforce the bend to the inside. After a few of these going both ways in the arena we moved into a trot around the full arena. With big circles focusing on almost overbending her at each end and in the middle.

She started off very choppy and stiff but as she worked out of it we started to do some leg yields down the center line. I’m still a little ways away from really getting these but I’m so much closer than I ever have been and was very nearly there towards the end yesterday. As usual, as soon as I figure out my body and stop doing wonky things Katai is actually able to use herself and do these correctly. Jane is having me focus on keeping her straight and wants me to think about almost having her haunches lead. She also wants me to stop flailing getting ahead of the motion.

After that we took a brief walk break and then went to canter. For some reason our transitions are good but Katai’s canter has fallen off the rails a bit. Not sure if it’s #hormonalmareproblems or if it’s one of those things were it’s going to get worse before it gets better but at the very least it’s a change and that’s always interesting/encouraging. She’s having trouble maintaining her canter in both directions and it’s really flat but she’s transitioning into it well, that is when she doesn’t get extremely tight and tie herself in knots like she was tonight. I’m going to start working her at the canter in side reins to see if it helps her to figure it out without me up there also flailing trying to figure out where to sit.

Jane said something really interesting to me though. Basically that I have very light sensitive contact, which she likes, but that sometimes I need to have more contact to get her to the right place and then immediately lighten. That makes perfect sense, and I’d like to think that I’m aware of that, but what I realized as we were talking is that I’m actually, finally RIDING the trot right now. Very actively, keeping/putting her where she needs to be and making quick effect corrections to get her to a good place as needed and then being soft and steady. However, I am NOT doing that at walk or canter. In both gaits because of her fussiness Katai has turned me into a passenger who tries to just be quiet and not upset anything so that she doesn’t freak out. It’s not effective, it’s not helping, and I need to just RIDE both gaits like I am at the trot.

Something to think about/work on during my next few rides anyway!


  1. Really RIDING is about the hardest thing ever :) I've discovered I'm a very lazy, non confrontational person lol

  2. I am very similar (in that Apollo's fussiness has turned me into a passenger too!). Really riding is hard work! I am working on it haha

    1. It is! and it's especially tough when they're so good at convincing you not to lol

  3. I hear you on the real riding thing- especially with a fussy mare. Good for you!