Hippoi Athanatoi

A New Semester Begins

Ouch. Turns out the sore muscles from last Friday’s private lesson were anything but fine. My arms and legs feel like overcooked spaghetti and my behind feels bruised. As a result, this one will be a little shortish.

It started well enough, though, despite the weather (no rain, but plenty of wind to make up for it). The extra working out (and, admittedly, very sparse eating) during the last few days had succeeded in making sure that any weight picked up over Christmas was gone, allowing me to once more weigh in low enough to ride some of the ponies. As we were set to jump today, I was particularly pleased with that. I don’t like to pass up a chance to jump Murphy.

We ended up being fairly late, with all the weighing and handing out of some papers, so we had to be pretty quick when tacking up the horses. Fortunately, Murphy didn’t mind this too much and was generally co-operative. He was quite well-behaved down in the arena too, though initially he felt a little too laid-back once we started walking. However, as we moved onto the warm-up, he perked up quite a bit. That’s when I noticed just how sore my arms still were. Not good considering that today’s lesson would also focus on shortening and lengthening, as we were asked to prepare for being able to alter the number of strides between two obstacles.

Despite my spaghetti arms, I was fairly pleased with how the warm-up worked out, however. I did a lot of circling, at walk as well as trot, and once we got around to the cantering Murphy was feeling quite forward (almost too much so for my poor arms) but he also responded pretty well to being shortened regardless of the gait. I also tried to keep in mind my position, so that I didn’t allow myself to look too much at my hands or curve my back like I did last time. Not sure how well I succeeded with that, though, as I didn’t have anyone along to take pictures or film today.

The jumping exercises were pretty basic. First, a slightly tricky turn. I thought it worked out fairly well right off, though my instructor noted that Murphy was becoming too bent through the turn, and asked me to keep him straighter and to turn his front end around his hindquarters. This worked quite nicely, and resulted in a steadier and more forward-thinking approach from Murphy’s side.

The second exercise was the two obstacles along the long side of the arena. We were supposed to jump it once first, count the number of strides the horse took between when allowed to decide more or less for itself, and then decide whether it needed any adjusting. Murphy did it fairly well, if a little too slowly, and we ended up with five strides. The last, however, was more like three quarters of a stride, so I had to decide if I wanted to go for 4 or 5 the next time. Given that Murphy wasn’t feeling very forward, I figured that shortening him would result in too much of a loss of momentum for a good jump. So, I opted for 4 strides.

My instructor noted I would need quite a bit of extra momentum to manage to take off almost a whole stride, and reminded me to once again keep him a straight as possible through the turn, to keep from losing any momentum there. I got him galloping at a good clip, did the turn as instructed, and got a pretty good jump over the first obstacle, four nice, big strides and an excellent take-off for the second obstacle. Afterwards, my instructor noted that some people insist that Murphy doesn’t have a good gallop, and she just can’t see how they can think so. He can really move when he’s in the mood and you get him going.

So, overall, pretty good. A fairly basic lesson, and we didn’t get to much jumping done since we were so many, but given how I am feeling right now that was probably good for me. What wasn’t so good is that afterwards I noticed that Murphy was missing a shoe. I think he may have been missing it before the class too, but that I managed to overlook it in the rush to get him ready. Either that, or he somehow threw it walking from or to the stables. I do hope he’s not hurt himself working without it. I am usually so attentive to these things that I am really kicking myself for possibly having missed it. I have a vague recollection of maybe registering it when getting him ready, and telling myself to check his other rear foot to see if he was going without shoes now, and then I must have been distracted by something. Now I’ll be paranoid about stuff like that for a while.

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