Time for another lesson.
Took the new German martingale, took my new gloves, took some ibuprofen, took a puff from the inhaler. :::puts sunglasses on::: Let's do this.
A kind friend offered to trailer Tril and me over--well, trailer Tril, I got to ride up front in the truck--and she had a lesson right after mine, so it was a fun twofer for both of us. We got to have our own lesson then learn by watching someone else's.
But first: as we pulled up and parked the rig, the trainer called out in quizzical amusement, "Is Tril supposed to be backwards??" My friend and I: "Whuhhh??" "Tril is backwards." "Whuhhhhh?"
We got out of the truck, walked to the back of the rig, and sure enough Tril had his previously tied nose sticking out the back of the trailer. I figured my Houdini had untied himself, as he has done on many, many occasions at the hitching post.
|"Is something on my face?"|
|Working on the next one|
|I'm thinking of starting a trophy wall for him. I'm sure this won't be the last.|
I was eager to get on, as I had had enough rides on Tril since my last lesson to have questions. Not ones I could put into words and raise my hand and ask, but ones based on what I was feeling and not feeling and doing and not doing. I was eager to get on and see what I discovered.
Well, let's see.
I ride stiffly myself turning to the right and tend to just brace that right rein and not let go. This annoys Tril and is a prime example of me getting in the way of both of us. I tend to not let him be straight going that direction because of that braced right rein--unaware, I keep him curved. "Watch your horse's head," the trainer told me. Yeah--perpetually turned slightly to the right. Shoot. Solution: lots of circles and changes of direction at the walk, making sure he goes straight in between each transition. This is more for me than for him.
Actually, most of the lesson--perhaps all--was about me and not him. I felt like a kid starting over again--the trainer actually did say I was going back to kindergarten (later she amended it, "Well, maybe that was going back to third grade"). I did a series of very useful, very excruciating drills where I would sit the trot, two point, post the trot, sit the trot, two point, lather, rinse, repeat. This gave me tremendous feel for my lower leg position, but OH DEAR LORD. I love, and hate, how absolutely exhausting and challenging that is. I shall now do it every ride until it isn't exhausting and challenging, dammit. I WILL CONQUER YOU. Legs, shut up. I have more ibuprofen at home.
Then came the words that instill fear in the heart of many an equestrian: "Drop your stirrups." Actually, she asked, and I--now fully pissed this easy stuff wasn't easy--welcomed it. I let my legs go long, but she corrected me--put them back in position. Now, sit the trot, post the trot, sit the trot, post the trot (thank God she didn't ask me to two point without stirrups) until my hip flexor muscles screamed for mercy. "Do that until you're too tired to do more, and you're done," she said through a dark grin. And indeed, I did. Dammit.
My lower legs have a tendency to creep back behind when I ride, particularly when I cue, and these drills will help keep them in position. I also learned Tril speeds up when I circle him because I subconsciously am pushing him forward, when pulling on a rein (to turn or otherwise) is actually a slow down cue and the opposite should be the case. I also tend to have my reins uneven, shortening them for every turn, and need to be mindful of keeping them exactly even. Ooh, I also brace when I transition (upward or downward) and need to relax my arms and legs rather than scrunch up.
It goes on. All good to write down and remember while it's fresh to avoid the "Holy shit, I forgot everything she said! WTF do I do??" feeling I had first time I sat on Tril after our previous lesson. I will not forget this time! Dammit.
The frustrating thing about having had so many physical setbacks in the last few years (two babies, two back surgeries, recovery from H1N1, busted ankle) means it seems like I am always going back to the beginning. I told the trainer after the lesson what is both insulting and embarrassing is how incredibly exhausting such basic work is. *sigh again* But, really, it's about getting a proper foundation and building my stamina--everything else just builds on top of it. She did tell me it's easier to teach kids because kids are willing to do everything they're asked--drop stirrups? Two point? Sure! I like that I still have that child-like willingness, if not a child's body (that I've heard once described as being made of "rubber and magic").
Watching the other regular riders at the barn, I felt small and unskilled, clumsy and oafish, ignorant and coarse. I still aspire to be As Good As Them someday, and have a thoroughly educated horse who is abundantly forgiving and generous who can help me Get There.
A simple sentence my friend told me resonated with me: "It's fun riding with someone who gets it." I later realized she meant me--I was getting it, and that was rewarding for her to see. I was out of shape, sloppy, exhausted, but I was getting it, and as a teacher myself, I know there is no greater pleasure than seeing that in a student. I look forward to more of it. I look forward to not being a perpetual newbie.