Friday, February 10, 2017

Roll With It

I don't know if it's because I know my horse is soon to be for sale, and then I'll be shopping for whatever sane, sound, healthy, tall and/or built like a brick shithouse (so it can take up my long legs)  horse with dressage ability I can afford--most likely something young or very green or both.  I don't know if it's because some weeks I have my lesson on someone else's horse who, while more knowledgeable than mine, is severely out of shape and rather cranky.  I don't know if maybe I'm at a spot in my life where riding isn't going to be taken from me and so I'm more flexible. (You just don't know how hard it has sometimes been  during the 2 2/3 decades of raising my kids to keep opportunities to put my butt in the saddle from disappearing.)

I really don't know; maybe it's a combination of all those things.  But lately when I ride--lately as in pretty much the entirety of 2017 thus far-- I don't get off stride if my plan for my ride or lesson isn't how things actually turn out.

Take this week's lesson, for example.  This week, I was going to ride T (the other horse) and we were going to work on canter.  As in, yes, he canters, yes, I canter, but have I ever really been taught the proper way to canter in dressage?--no, I haven't.  I was really looking forward to getting some 'insider information', as it were, on which seat bone goes where, when, and how, and more practice on feeling the right instant to ask for a canter depart to ensue the correct lead, and how to get and keep a nice canter bound all while sitting up straight.  I mean, we touched on this, once, sort of, with the Quarter Horse a few months ago during a brief period of soundness, but I haven't been able to work on myself much.  Our canter departs and canter/trot transitions are miles better than they were last fall, but I really want to be able to work on me while cantering so that I can get better too. Since T knows his canter stuff, I've been wanting to canter T.

Last week, T got too hot and winded during his short yee-haw longeing session that precedes me getting on him and we spent nearly the entire hour of my lesson doing different walk things while he got his breathing back down into the normal range.  When it took extreme effort to get him to walk energetically, let alone briefly trot--and let's not even ask for energy just a consistent trot--we knew that wasn't a good night to ask him for canter work.  We would have been there till midnight getting him cooled out and dried off had we attempted canter!  I would have been drenched with sweat and exhausted from the exertion it would have taken to get him to canter!

This week was going to be the big canter lesson.  Except when it came time for me to get on (after only a brief yee-haw longeing first, so he wasn't steaming, sweaty and huffing), the wind started really whipping outside. So it turned into a night of keeping him in a consistent trot, and not spooking in every scary corner or at each big roar of the wind.  Lots of half-halts.  Lots of trot/walk/trot transitions.  Lots of figures and lateral work to keep his mind busy and off of the wind-monster lurking on the other side of the walls.

We did do a little cantering, all of which was unasked for and usually in a quick sideways manner.  So I guess you could say I got to work on sitting both tall and straight while having my seat down deep in the saddle.  Many half-halts and canter to trot transitions.

Was I upset that the weather was making my horse uncooperative?  Was I upset that my (and my trainer's) agenda for the lesson had gone out the window?

Nah.  I still had a good lesson.  I still improved my riding.  I didn't lose my seat once during T's sudden and unasked for (and not especially balanced) canter departs.  I didn't snatch up the reins in self-defense when he wanted to hightail it across the arena.  I stayed calm (well, mostly) and cool and just reminded him that we were working on trot, thank you, and please get back to it.  I just rolled with it and rode the ride that I had right then.  We can put canter on next week's docket.

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