Monday, October 27, 2008

Well, I can sit a bucking school horse!

Tonight's lesson was. Exciting. Yes, that's the word.

I had Cameo, who I've ridden in the last two lessons and got along with pretty well.

First, though, she copped a bit of an attitude when I was re-situating her saddle (it had shifted too far back before I got her) and then tightening the girth. Which is kinda par for the course with her, she's a tad girthy. Then she wanted to start walking before I was fully in the saddle. Also par for the course, but annoying.

Then, the class gets going and we're warming up trotting and I'm thinking my stirrups feel weird (I can't describe it better than that, really). I think the left one (which was the inside stirrup at the time) was a little too long or something. I just felt kinda discombobulated. Then, as I was going up to post, my foot managed to slip out of said stirrup and I totally lost my balance and came off the horse.

Luckily, I managed to somehow do this so that I was basically dismounting while trotting. I'm not entirely sure how it happened. Luckily, Cameo stopped. I don't think Kristy is sure what happened either because I think she only saw me suddenly standing on the ground.

Anyway, I got back up and we continued.

There were a couple of times where, getting Cameo to trot from a walk, she'd pin her ears and feel like she was thinking about bucking, but she didn't do it. Also on one end of the end of the arena we were working on, she would keep moving to the middle of the circle and we'd have an argument about moving back over. Still working on how to straighten a horse out that does that because my initial reaction isn't really the right one. That and, according to Kristy, I'm not getting after her enough and she knew she could get away with it.

So there was that but it wasn't too bad. I chalked it up to the weather turning colder overnight (as it had) and Cameo just being grumpy.

Until she bucked once on that end of the arena as I was pushing her back over and keeping her trotting. Pretty sure I let out a "shit!". First time a horse has done that to me in a while. Other than that, we kept going and it was okay.

Then we started trying to group canter (actually only half the class at a time, but still). The first time, she thought about bucking, wouldn't canter, and came into the ring (where the other half of the class was waiting). According to Kristy, I still needed to get after her and she was "getting into my head" and I needed to not let her do that.

So we went again. Again there were a few bucks before she straightened out. But I sat them! And didn't lose my cool.

The next time around when we went the other direction was much smoother as she apparently decided to more or less do as I'd asked.

Then we did a bit of work on trotting into a low crossrail and cantering out. I had no trouble getting her to canter there (in fact, Kristy had me drop my crop as she definitely wasn't in need of me carrying it). Mostly then it was keeping her from going before it was her turn and, once, we went over one of the "high" ends of the jump. And cantered a little too far into the other class on the other end of the ring. *facepalm*

Those last bits were much more me at fault than the horse, though. ;)

Anyway, it was definitely an exciting lesson. I left feeling like a big dork, though Kristy said I didn't do that badly, especially considering how Cameo was acting.

I suppose I figure I should be able to, at this point, just magically work with the horse and it works. Which is silly because I've only been riding again as an adult since February or so.

And even after I fixed my stirrups after that almost-fall incident at the beginning, they still felt kinda weird to me. It was just a weird night, I think.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two good rides

I had two good rides yesterday. It being a federal holiday and all, I had the day off (yay!). So, in the morning I went up to Gentle Giants and helped out a bit with bringing horses in and feeding and watering and all of those fun things. After a while, it ended up that there was me, and Christine (who still can't quite ride yet, due to healing broken arm), Alex (who I haven't mentioned in this blog yet, but she adopted Tressa from GG and boards her there), and two other volunteers who are au pairs. One is from Germany and the other is from Sweden. Anyway, Alex, the au pairs, and I ended up taking several of the horses into the large pasture (currently empty since we brought horses in to eat) and rode around, which was fun. I got to ride Tabby, whom I adore and was very good for me. But then again, she usually is.

It's funny because Tabby gets an attitude with other horses (especially if she's got food at the time) but she's an angel for most of the people she's with. Which is good, too. :) She's another one I'd totally adopt if I could have a horse. You also wouldn't guess she's 20. She certainly doesn't look or act it.

Later in the evening, I had a lesson up at Columbia Horse Center, where we were informed our class is now officially an adult intermediate class and no longer a beginner one. So yay! I got to ride Cameo, who I'd only ridden once or so a while back. We got along pretty well and Kristy said we looked good together and I looked pretty relaxed going over the tiny crossrail she'd set up for the class to go over so I'm guessing I'll be seeing Cameo again for future lessons.

She also mentioned that Oct 24, they'll be having a Halloween party and need people to work on the haunted trail ride. I'm tempted (I think I could do the whole ghost thing. Lots of baby powder, possibly a white wig, long white veil things, and a cheap white skirt/dress/something.). But mostly for the possibility of getting an extra lesson or two in exchange for working. ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Three rides to talk about. I really need to get in the habit of updating this more regularly but oh well!

The first was last Thursday, I went up to Gentle Giants and rode Carley. Well, first I brought horses in from the field, hayed and watered, then I rode Carley. We had a really good ride, which I was pleased about. Near the end, I gave her a loose rein and tried steering her with just my leg and seat. Which was sort of hit or miss but I think she got the concept, she was just more interested in going the direction she wanted to go.

I've been keeping my rides out at GG to around a half hour or so. I guess I could make them longer but I always feel like I might be taking advantage or something. That and I sort of get to be at a loss for things to do. I hate to just make them trot around and around the arena. I suppose next time I should think ahead and set up trot poles. Or visualize us doing serpentines and smaller circles and things like that to keep it interesting. And gait transitions.

Yeah, I think about all this stuff now....

Probably a big part of it is that I'm still very much a student and very much in "listen for what the instructor tells you to do" mode and feel weird having a whole arena to myself and having to make it up as I go along.

What do you do when you're just riding in the arena?

Other than that, Monday was riding lesson day at Columbia Horse Center. I had thought I was going to ride Confetti (one of the "Intermediate" horses) but a few last minute changes apparently led to me riding Valentine (one of the first horses I rode there. He's a dear old boy. And apparently used to do some pretty high level dressage which is cool.) instead. Which was a good thing because in a class of six people? Only two of the horses that night were "leaders". Valentine and one of the others. So Valentine and I ended up in front for most of the night. But at least he's quite willing to be there and I didn't have to push him about it. Didn't even need to be carrying my crop, really.

My favorite part was near the end when we had to pull our stirrups up over the saddle and work on a sitting trot with no stirrups. Kristy mentioned that Valentine was likely the bounciest in the group but she didn't think I'd have a problem with it. And I didn't! (My sitting trot used to be horrendous, bouncing all over the place, so I'm really pleased that it's become easier for me.) I still wouldn't want to ride Mickey's trot sitting (pogo stick!) but I feel better about doing it in general.

Last night was back to Gentle Giants where I rode Treadway for the first time. He's also a nice old boy. Twenty years old, Percheron cross, former eventer. And apparently he has a hard mouth and very light sides.

We spent the entire (no more than twenty minutes) ride trotting. Except for right at the beginning when I mostly got him to walk around the arena both directions. He was determined to trot. He'd even trot verrrrry slowly so it was "like" walking but...two beat gait. I posted about it here.

Eventually it seemed to be we were both getting more frustrated with each other than anything. Me feeling like I had to really hold him in and hang off his mouth and him wanting to go. I got a good suggestions in the thread I linked to that I'll try next time we ride. Relax, take my leg off him more, shorter half halts. (It's quite possible I wasn't "squeeze-releasing" as much as I thought I was so he was just getting continual pull.) I'm also going to ask someone to really stay in there and watch, at least for a few minutes, and remind me of the stuff I should be doing. ;)

That said, I figure I'll be riding Big Red tomorrow. May depend on how early I get there. Early enough and I could ride before evening lessons and then again after. Hmmm.

Sailor seems to have an adopter. This has produced mixed feelings. I'll have to give him extra love until he goes.

That's the only problem with being at a horse rescue. The horses aren't supposed to stick around. So you grow attached and then have to say goodbye. Which I knew going in but still.