I was quite tired today (on account of some indecently late nights in front of the computer these last two weeks), but since I knew we’d have our regular instructor back, I wasn’t too reluctant to drag myself to the stable. Even though it threatened to get pretty cold as well. Once there, I did my usual round of saying a brief hello to my favourites (Murphy, of course, although he had just had his feed and didn’t want to let me in, and Malupin, Fleur, Sammy, Gamir and a few of the ponies a swell). Its always a little sad these days to say hello to Sammy, because he’s 18 now and you never know when he’ll be gone. So far, though, he’s doing great, although he’s almost never in our group anymore since he’s such a great horse for the lower groups. Same, alas, goes for Murphy. Seems I am not likely to get him for anything but jumping lessons, but fortunately I did manage to get signed up for yet another extra lesson over Christmas, so I do hope he stays healthy this year. He’s had an extraordinary ability to get injured around Christmas. ;P
As you might be able to guess from that, it was Malupin for me today as well. Next semester, I think I’ll try Martino and maybe Aina again, to branch out a bit, but today I was happy to get to tackle Malupin again given last weeks less than successful lesson. Since I had spent some time sorting out the sign-up for the Christmas lessons, I had to get Malupin ready pretty quickly. I did manage to chat a little more with a newcomer to our group (I actually rode with her years ago in another group), who it turns out used to own a Lipizzan. She figured that finding a mare around 15 hands would be pretty easy ... gah , I really shouldn’t be making horse-buying plans, but I’d so love to have one. Of course, I promised Murphy I’d buy him if I win money, and I plan to stick to that if they let me have him, but maybe he’d like a Lipizzan friend ...
Anyhow, back in the real world, we took the horses down to the arena, where Malupin was scared stiff by the presence of another, unknown horse outside of the arena. Silly boy. Fortunately, he calmed down once we got inside, so I didn’t tense up any which would have been a bad start to the lesson. Especially since we were supposed to keep working on our transitions. Mindful of my problems last week, I tried to start off by finding a good, deep seat (it was a good idea to read some from Song of Unmaking before going riding, for inspiration), and concentrated a lot on thinking and signalling the gait I wanted up until the moment of transition, so that I (for example) wouldn’t start thinking trot too early.
This worked quite well, and the first set of transitions we did—mixing short stretches of walk and trot—did make Malupin fairly responsive, even though the transitions as such weren’t too great. He’d break free of the form both when moving from walk to trot and viceverse , although he’d usually find it again pretty soon afterwards. He’s just not very good at the actual transition, and often throws in a few steps of pacing when going from walk to trot. I did not, however, get any longer stretches of pacing today, so that was good. After a while, we moved on to do this on circles instead, and now I managed to get some really nice transitions by sitting down deep and giving him the room to ‘rise up’ in front of me. My instructor managed to tell me what to do just in time for me to try it out, and once I had felt that feeling once, it was much easier to try to recapture it. Of course, I also managed to get a little to eager to get there again, and on a couple of occasions I asked for collection by shortening my reins instead of keeping a steady hand and using more seat and leg.
On the whole, however, I was quite pleased with the walk-to-trot transitions. I did try a few walk to canter transitions too, butMalupin’s canter is pretty poor, and the way we were doing it, with a quarter of a circle of walk, a quarter canter, a quarter trot, and so on, did not give me any chance to really work on improving it. Especially as he got over-excited again whenever we tried, which usually meant that his transitions weren’t any good (since I never ride him enough when he gets frisky), and then I was left with too short a stretch to improve on the poor start. So, I felt it was better to do the best we could with the walk and the trot.