Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Rides....One day!

So this morning, I had my private lesson with Kristy at CHC. She put me on Kinko and I told her I wanted to work on my two-point (or half seat or jumping position or what the heck ever you want to call it). It's always kinda been hit or miss with me. I never really got very far in learning to jump as a kid and then I stopped riding for about ten years.

Then, I started taking lessons this year in February. I was in one class for a while before I switched into Kristy's class. That other class had only just really started going over two-point when I got into Kristy's where they'd already been doing it for a while. So I never really got the basics down, I guess, though I know what I was supposed to look like and, according to Kristy, have sort of been forcing myself into that position ever since. "Muscling" it. And basically, not doing it properly.

So last night, when I was in my lesson and we were working on jumping and I wasn't getting it, it became pretty obvious I needed to work on that. Some days it's fine, but a lot? Not so much.

First, today, she had me just stand up (not straight but...I guess like if I went up to post and just never sat back down) while trotting. Which I couldn't get. At all. My legs were too straight and I couldn't find the right place to balance and just...stand. About then we figured my stirrups were likely a little too long to allow me to clear the saddle and still keep my knees bent, so we shortened them a bit. Back to the exercise, first just at the halt so I could find the right balance point. Then walking, so I could do it while the horse was moving. Only once I got that did I go back to trying it at the trot. Wasn't perfect, but it was better and after I seemed to be getting it, we went back to two point.

There, Kristy had me do it at a halt again so she could correct my position. She was telling me to put my hips back and I was, apparently, trying to push my knees back. Which, obviously, doesn't quite work. She also decided I could stand to bring my stirrups up a hole more.

Once I found the right position again and could feel it (knee relaxes, heel drops, and I remember to look up and keep my chest open, etc), she had me do it again at the walk. Once that was done, she had me do it trotting. Then over trot poles. Then over a crossrail.

Luckily, Kinko's a really good guy who, once I got him trotting, would just sort of keep motoring around till I asked him to do something different so I could really focus on what I was doing with me and less on what he was doing. (Okay, it wasn't luck, that was intentional on Kristy's part).

So anyway, I spent most of the 45 minute lesson either standing in the stirrups or in two-point. By the end of it, when she was telling me "just one more time!" all I could think was "I don't think I can make it one more"....but I did! And anyway, the lesson definitely helped. I just have to keep it up.

Kristy suggested I talk to the manager about working in some practice rides on my own. I still feel kinda weird thinking about riding there without an instructor. I could of course, make sure to work on this stuff at Gentle Giants though some of the horses there are less inclined to just motor around for me than the school horses at CHC ;). And there was an exercise she told me about a while back to work on it too (though obviously, it works better on a horse) is to stand on the edge of a step or something, drop my heels (so I'm balanced on the balls of my feet) and make like I'm going into two point. I can do that too.

So that was the first ride.

After that, I drove up to Gentle Giants. Nobody was there yet, so I killed time by cleaning stalls and taking pictures of horses out in the fields. When Christina (one of the instructors) got there was when it was time to ride. Christina's riding a horse for somebody else there right now (he's still kind of green, I think. Or just skittish. Or both.) and wanted somebody else there while she rode in the arena (he does better if he's not alone). And I, of course, wanted to ride. :)

I had figured on just riding Carley, but as I thought about it I considered riding Treadway again. Bareback, as I figured it would be easier to keep my leg off him and if he got too fast? I could more easily bail. Hah.

So that's what I did and this ride was sooooo much better than the other one. He actually walked almost sedately around the ring for me. And of course, when he trotted, he had a tendancy to get fast (mostly on the long sides of the arena) so instead of hauling on his face, I would circle him, or do zig zag serpentine=y things. He'd slow down, and we'd go straight again.

I think a big part that helped on my end was that I was more relaxed and couldn't brace with my legs on the nonexistent stirrups. :) I also didn't just keep a tight rein on him, but just had light contact on his mouth most of the time and kept reminding myself to actually do the "squeeze release" thing.

I will say he steers off of my seat very well (I barely used rein to ask him to turn) and his trot is wonderfully smooth, even when he's going fast, I never really felt like I was bouncing all over his back.

So yay. :) Now I get why people there say he's a fun ride.

The third ride was Carley, but not for very long as both Christina and I were pretty tired by that time (she'd gone riding this morning too elsewhere). Not much to say on that one, neither Carley or Big Red (who Christina was riding) were overly inclined to do anything that resembled work and neither of them wanted to pass the other. Hah. Still, not a bad ride.

Of course, I did fall off at the beginning of it.

I rode Carley bareback too, but unlike the other day when she stood pretty damn still for me to mount (from a block), today when she felt my hands tense on her back in order to get on, she would try to sidestep. Once, I got partway on (from just a little too far away), she started walking, and I tried to get the rest of the way up. I basically ended up losing it and coming off the other side *facepalm*. Christina said she'd thought I was going to make it up just before I came off. I hit my hip (and a fall from 17hands or so isn't overly fun) but not badly or anything. So I tried again and got on and all was well. I told Christina that was technically my first fall since I'd started riding again (the one where I came off Cameo the other week and landed on my feet totally doesn't count). She was surprised, saying that would be like her first fall this week. But then, she rides a lot of OTTBs (and, in fact, owns one and he's apparently...exciting. Yes. :) ). Whereas I've mostly stuck to school horses and pretty laid back drafts so far. ;)

Anyway, all's well that ends well and I learned a lot.

Oh, and the picture up top was taken at GG today. :)

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