I had my first scheduled, normal lesson with Jane this past Tuesday and, no big surprise, it was AMAZING af. I'm going to list bullet points of the items we worked on since I feel like that's the best way for me to journal all of this and for me to not miss something. So, without further ado here is the massive list of what we're working on!
- My way of thinking about training/riding Katai is something that Jane has made big changes with. For some things, such as proper bend to the left, she wants me to realize that it's really difficult and probably uncomfortable for her. This has made me think very differently about how I ask for it and she wants me to give time for her to accept it rather than "making her" where for things without the same limitation I might expect a more immediate reaction. The other changes in my thinking are in thinking like my contact like a hug rather than an aid. I'm very demanding of myself and it's easy for me to be the same with Katai and not be as gentle and respectful of her as I should be. I'm really enjoying working with a coach that takes that into account.
- Leg contact is another big thing we are working on. Jane is insisting that Katai accept that contact right from the beginning of my ride and it's meant that she is way less resistant to it throughout my entire lesson. Again I'm focusing on the hug feeling and trying to keep it as pleasant as possible. She wants it to be pleasant most of the time and very gentle. No thumping her in the sides, no pushing her, no unpleasantness at all for right now. Firm yes but for the time being we're focusing on it being pleasant.
- We are also working on slowing me down. I function very quickly as a human being, I rush through a lot and have a tough time stopping and slowing down. I can be in the moment and still rushed but I've been trying to slow things down. I'm the same way with Katai which was made worse by the problem she had with rearing. I got used to feeling her suck back and having to really push her forward. However, that rushes her, makes her tense, and makes her feel like running away. Jane has been really emphasizing that even if she breaks into a walk its ok. It's ok, where are we going in such a hurry, why does she need to keep trotting, this is fun, it's a slow process and it can be a slow process and I need to just take a breath and slow down. I feel like she's good for my life in general and not just my riding :)
- She also found something that I've been unhappy about in my riding but never really knew what was causing it. I think we all feel like we look awkward when we see ourselves in videos and pictures but there's been this thing that seems off but that I can't really identify and Jane saw it the moment she saw me on a horse. She says that I perch when I'm riding particularly at the walk, but it effects my trotting as well. She wants me to really release my hips and sit down on Katai's back. This is really, really tough for me. Not that some of the things above aren't but with those I feel like I have moments where I REALLY get them and just need to make it more consistent, with this I feel like I kind of get it for a second or two but haven't been able to consistently get it when I'm trying.
- I also found out that I've clearly identified that we're still struggling with bend. With the help of the arena mirrors and Jane's coaching I was really able to see just how bad it is sometimes when it still looks good from above. We're at a point where Jane won't accept me not having Katai in the correct bend. Poor Jane needs to yell at me for it a lot but we're going to get better quick! Lot's of practice in our future.
- She's also making a couple of minor changes in my equipment. She loves my new saddle (I had my first lesson with her in back in July in my old saddle) but wants me to get regular fillis irons for the different feel they give and, I may have mentioned, that she wants me to use side reins instead of my neck stretcher because she doesn't like the way that the bungie pulls down on their poll. I still have my side reins but unfortunately I sold my old irons. Oh well, they'll be easy to pick up at a used tack sale!