We’re well into July now and I haven’t been near a horse for weeks (sigh), so I am dealing with missing the stable by briefly recapping what happened during May and June. For next semester, I’ll need to find some new motivation to write more promptly; I am planning a website redesign and some more integration with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whatever else it is that I am trying to keep up with these days, so perhaps that will encourage me.
Going back to May, I had a good jumping lesson on Nelson to start it off. I really liked riding him on the new noseband that they tried out, though later they shifted back again. I did remember what I had learned the previous jumping lesson and rode him with short reins and high hands, which gave me good control over his short little neck.
The dressage lesson after that ended up being on Ricky, a smaller pony I haven’t ridden for years. I had to get used to what I could ask of him—he needs to really get his back end started first, before you even think about his head—but he’s a great mover and once I did less he worked very well. At the end, as we were winding them down, he trotted in great balance on entirely slack reins. Just a little added leg pressure was needed if he started slipping. Such a sweetie, even when he got tired and needed some extra rest since he rarely works that hard.
After that we had a theory lesson that I missed and then a dressage lesson on Shanti. She gave me some great trotting and walking and very nice leg yields, though I need to keep in mind that she’s very good at just bending her neck and pretending. Getting those hind legs working properly is tricky. For the canter, I have to work on getting my aids to be much softer, but still determined. I also need to keep my hands up, especially my inner, and be aware that she finds collection hard and easily drops down to a trot if I lower my inner hand. Her head can be a bit unsteady, but calm hands are essential.
Following that, we did our dressage program on the next Friday. I was a bit nervous about riding Shanti after the lesson on Tuesday, but I started off very determined during the warm-up and I got some lovely canter outside. I also got her to really trot, using her whole back and hind legs. During the actual program, I did let her curl up a bit too much, which resulted in a wobbly form. However, I did get one great canter with exclamation marks after so I was very pleased and I really want to do it soon again. I get so nervous even before a mock-contest, but I love the feeling.
The final lesson in May was dressage on Nelson. A new horse caused a commotion at first (threw his rider, ran many laps around the paddock), then we got started properly. I had to work on Nelson’s rhythm, but once I was consistent about that and stopped worrying about his head, he came together better. He gave me some excellent canter and Ulrika said I was much calmer from riding Shanti. Nelson really waited for me and kept himself balanced throughout the canter. We rode diagonals with at least two changes of gait, and this worked very well to get me in the right mindset. I do need to keep focusing on not overdoing my aids and also on relaxing and bending my knees and also relaxing and bending my elbows to raise my hands (but not widen them).
Our last two lessons in June consisted of a very relaxing, cosy trek on Nelson and finally a bareback dressage lesson for the finale. I did a bit of bareback riding on Murphy and a lot of riding without stirrups on him and I really need to get back to it. It does wonders for my balance, though trotting Nelson was very hard. Still, I stayed on even throughout most of the little mini-contest Ulrika surprised us with; I only slipped off when we did a fully turn in the saddle as I couldn’t get my leg up high enough with my stiff back and it caught a bit on his neck. I had a close call, as well. The last challenge was to start cantering on a long rein, which Nelson did just fine…and then he thought that no rein meant “whee, run as fast as you can” so the acceleration almost had me off.