Hippoi Athanatoi

Running Around

Before I got to the stables today, I had read on the club webpage that they were temporarily cancelling the two classes following upon ours. They’ve had trouble filling those up enough for them to be profitable, so the decision was made to cancel them until it looks like another class for adults is needed. Initially, I worried that we might end up with a new instructor due to this, as she would get quite few lessons on Tuesday and might switch to another day, but it seems that isn’t happening. The change might also allow us to do a double lesson now and then, for example for jumping, or to extend the lesson to a full hour, so that’s good news. I am just hoping it won’t mean we end up with all the big horses to an even larger extent than before, since we’re now the only adult group of the day. We’ll see how it works out in the next weeks, I guess.

Last week, our instructor had asked us to list three horses we wanted to ride for the rest of the semester, whenever possible, and three things we wanted to practice. I decided to be a good little student and wrote it down on a note for her, but it turns out I was the only one who did anything about it. ;P Naturally, I listed Murphy as my first choice, then Gamir as my second and Malupin as my third. For exercises, I specified transitions, collection and extension and cantering. It turned out her plans matched half of it. I didn’t get Murphy (or any of the other two; in fact Malupin is injured again—that horse is walking disaster), but instead I ended up on Sammy (whom I didn’t put on my list because he’s so rarely in our group). The exercise, however, focused a fair bit on extension (of form, anyway) and also some on cantering.

We started off with some basic alternating between straight and bent tracks, first at a walk and then at a trot. Sammy was feeling quite soft and relaxed, which was good because I was not finding a good seat at all today, despite trying hard to sit down deeply and steadily. I also felt as if I had unusually poor control over my body, with my hands having a hard time to keep a good grip of both reins and whip. Not sure why, but the more I thought of it, the worse if got. ;P Especially as my instructor felt that Sammy wasn’t working enough (which he wasn’t), and asked me to wake him up a little bit more, which I ended up taking my sweet time about. I think I am still a teensy bit cautious about him after the misadventures during the Christmas break, so next time I get him I have to remind myself from the get-go to be more pro-active and to not be worried about Sammy, who is a pretty darn well-behaved horse 99% of the time.

By the time that I felt confident enough to ask for more ‘oomph’ from Sammy, we had moved on to riding the horses in a normal form out on the straight track and to put them into a lower and longer form on the circles. I managed to get some nice work out of Sammy for a bit, but then we hit the stage I had sort of worried about. Sammy, you see, is like a toy that you wind up. The more you wind it up, the more it runs, and runs, and runs ... well, you get the idea. He doesn’t get strong, or rude about pulling, but he forgets everything about cadence and just lets his legs run off with him. Partly, he just likes to avoid work that way, and partly I think he just likes running. Either way, he’s difficult to bring back to anything resembling a balanced trot once he gets to this stage, and it gets particularly bad after some cantering. Which, of course, was what was next up for us.

He’s actually worse about the whole running-not-working thing when trotting than when cantering, so the cantering was okay. But the trot after was ... not okay. I kept my nerves under control (I know he never does anything except trot very fast), but getting any kind of work out of him was hopeless. That’s partly why I always start off a little timidly on Sammy when I feel that he’s relaxed. I know that once I wind him up, I usually lose all that softness. Still, I suppose I have to learn how to get him to think about work instead of running, even when he gets to that stage. I talked a bit to my instructor about it after the lesson, and she basically suggested doing things that force him to work. Such as riding circles (without allowing him to throw his shoulders out), asking for flexion on a straight track, etc. I guess I’d like to ride him soon again so I can try to deal with some of this.

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