So last night we had an hour-long semi-private lesson (another horse and rider in the ring with us). I kind of like switching it up so sometimes he has to ride with other horses (which also means we have to work on rating gaits because when there's another horse, he tends to trot faster and then I have to work at slowing him down so we don't constantly pass/run up their rear end) and then sometimes he has to ride alone, both of which are good experiences for him. Also, with the semi-privates, sometimes he has to stand in the middle of the ring and wait while the other horse and rider do something and sometimes he has to go on the rail and ignore the horse waiting in the middle.
Anyway. Christina had me start out the lesson with no stirrups and do some posting at the trot which...I wasn't terribly successful at. Or at least I don't feel like I was. I couldn't really get the rhythm down. Eventually, she let me pick my stirrups up again. I'm kind of convinced they're simply too long (I have 'em on the shortest holes) as when I post or do two point, I'm not really clearing the saddle (and I know you're not supposed to be way out of it, but I feel like to even get out at all, my leg is going kinda straight). I'd just make more holes but the stitching is coming loose anyway so I just should get a new pair. Anybody have some dark leathers (havana or black. Preferably black) that are 54" or so?
Apparently when I start out a lesson (it seems to get better as we go along and I think a lot of it has to do with me not riding as often as I should lately so I haven't built up the proper muscles) my leg moves A LOT. Especially when posting. So Christina kept having to remind me to keep my calf on. I kept feeling like to do this, I needed to bring my heel up and do something funky with my feet. Whatever it was, it wasn't correct. So then I had to stop and do it correctly before I could feel like what it should be feeling like. And then whenever I go up to post I have to remember to keep my calf on because apparently my leg goes "out" instead and Christina says she saw a few inches of daylight between my calf and my horse. By the end of the lesson, I think I'd worked it out and gotten it down, but I know I'll have to do it all over again next week, ugh.
We also had to go around the ring once in two point which....well, my heel dropped a lot more for it but it was just hellacious to stay up. I couldn't find the right spot which is another reason I think my stirrups are too long as I know in the past (in other saddles, on other horses) if I brought up my stirrups a hole or two it got easier to balance. Though in my case it also got easier to balance when Christina told me to bring my hands forward. I think I had them still about the spot on his neck where you hold them normally (maybe a little forward of that) and when I brought them up more, it did get easier.
We also did a little bit more of trotting a weaving pattern through cones, and trotting cloverleaf-esque shapes in the indoor (trot down centerline, turn left at C, left again at E, cross X, turn left at B, go back down the centerline, then turn...basically, whatever direction Christina called out :) And don't forget to change diagonals!) with trot poles down the centerline.
And before I got too tired from that, Christina asked if I wanted to try cantering Kieran. See, he can canter under saddle. I've done it out on the trail, and did it a tiny (crappy) bit at Saddleview. But I hadn't been able to get him to do it in the indoor (except on the ground, on the lunge line). It's kind of a small ring and it's pretty difficult for a lot of the horses there to pick a canter in there under saddle so we rarely do it. I'd tried it with him a few times but it just wasn't seeming to work. We'd come out of a corner, I'd sit and bring my outside leg back, he'd speed up, but he wouldn't canter.
Christina figured it was at least partly because I take my reins up shorter when I prepare to canter and because he can't really lift himself into it yet (still needs to pull himself into it, we think), he'd go to stretch down and hit the end of the reins and...basically I was keep him from going up into the next gear. So I gave him a looser rein, held a crop (didn't even have to wave it at him) and again, nice working trot around the ring, come out of the corner on a long side, sit and bring back outside leg. Hard. (He still doesn't know "outside leg means canter" so have to do it more exaggeratedly than "normal"). He managed to get it a few times, just a few strides down the long side, but he did it! He has such a nice canter. Now we just have to work on steering. ;)
Of course, most of what we do will still revolve around walking and trotting, but it's nice to know I can get him to canter in there if I want to.
Discussed with Christina that maybe it would be good for us both to do a few private lessons on the lunge line. He lunges pretty well and then I can more ensure I'm focusing on giving good cues with my leg and seat and not having to rely on the reins as much.
Also, after the lesson, Christina hopped on Kieran, just to see how he goes (she hadn't ridden him yet.) and she really liked him. Said he felt really comfortable. :)
I haven't been up to see Kieran since last Wednesday. I could've gone on Friday but I had stuff I really needed to take care of at home. It's highly unlikely I'll get up there tonight. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in time tomorrow between work and my class in the evening but I'm not holding my breath.
Which means I likely won't get up there again until Wednesday. Bah. I said I wasn't going to be one of those horse owners who only comes to see their horse once a week. I've just got way too much stuff going on right now, it seems like.
Of course, the renaissance festival will be over this weekend and after that I can get up there on weekends again, which will help. And I should be done with class in December so once all that is past, I'll have my weeknights free again.
It probably doesn't help that it's getting dark so early (and it's only going to continue doing so) and it just went from "oh maybe this is autumn" to "oh HAI THAR WINTER, IT BE COLD NOW". I've been sucking down the hot chocolate and soup and put the warming mattress pad thingy on my bed last night and at least when I do go up to the barn I'll have a new (to me) pair of winter Mountain Horse paddock boots to keep my toesies warm.
Anyway, I guess I need to figure out better time management methods for the, uh, time being.
It would probably be easier if he was boarded closer to me (my drive is nearly an hour, round trip) but what with takings lessons on him for the time being there and the barn having an indoor (hence why I wanted to board him there through the winter) and me liking the folks he's with...I don't plan on moving him before spring. Of course, the fact I like the folks he's with is a big part of my time suck when I go to the barn. We always end up talking. Or I'll be like, "hmm, stalls need doing, let me do that..." and suddenly my plan to drive up, bring the boy in, groom and ride and toss him back out turns into a much longer to-do than I'd planned on. Oops.
I should put up the nice pics I got of him in his new Rambo Newmarket cooler. He looks so handsome in it! (I may be biased).
Figure I should get right with posting about tonight's lesson or I won't remember what all we did and why it was cool later. (For the record, last week's lesson was bareback and I was not as sore as I expected I would be the next day. Woo.)
Anyway: Tonight! We threw a lot of new stuff at Kieran, partly to make sure all this riding he's doing in the indoor stays interesting (he has a long winter of indoor riding ahead of him, and I don't want him to get sour to it) and partly a lot of the exercises we had him doing were with the aim of encouraging him to start using his hind end more and not travel as much on the forehand.
He took all of it without batting an ear. Just "...uh, this is what you want me to do? Okay! Here goes!". He's so awesome that way. :)
Things we did:
Trot poles: something he's done before, but I need to work on squeezing as we go over them so he doesn't slow down and looking forward instead of down at the poles.
Very very very low pole on a jump standard. Can't even call it a jump. Did it with crossrails and a tiny vertical. Mostly with the idea toward getting him used to going between the standards and giving him something a little higher to trot over to encourage him to pick up his feet. I did better at looking ahead with this (don't ask me why the poles on the ground are so much more interesting, LOL).
Weaving through orange traffic cones: Something he's never done before. We did it at the walk and the trot and he got the hang of it pretty quickly. I was actually surprised at how easy it was for him. Of course, in the future I'll have to remember to change my posting diagonal with each change of direction but Christina didn't get after me for that tonight. :)
A few turns on the forehand: I'd done a bit of this with him before so he got it pretty quickly. We did a couple along the wall and then tried one away from the wall which wasn't quite as pretty, but it just means it's something we should work on more.
"Rollbacks" at the trot. Basically heading down at just about the quarterline and then turning toward the rail in a tight turn and heading back the way we came. Also done first at the walk and then at the trot. Something else I was surprised at how little trouble he had (he used to stop/slow in the middle of 20 meter circles) but he didn't stop at all tonight. An exercise that was definitely intended to encourage him to really use his hind end for pushing.
Oh, and Christina had me drop my stirrups while warming up at the walk and "post" without stirrups. Then do two point without them along the long side of the arena. That's so my legs become less dependent on the stirrups as I have a tendancy to brace. But I have to say I feel so dumb doing this exercise because I don't feel like I'm actually getting out of the saddle (because I'm not, and you really can't, especially at the walk) and I figure I have to look dumb doing it. But hey, if it helps, I'll do it. :)
All in all, I was amazed at how much we managed to cram into the lesson tonight.
(I also have to say I'm kinda glad I switched to Christina even if my original reasoning was just for scheduling purposes, I feel like I'm actually getting somewhere now instead of just getting on and trotting around for a half hour. Of course, it probably helps that I'm riding Kieran with her and so a lot of it is focused toward his milestones so when we do something new with him, it feels new to me.)
We went to a local schooling show at Saddleview Ranch in Urbana, MD yesterday and rode in three w/t flat classes and three w/t/c flat classes. Kieran was a champ, and even placed in a couple (which I, honestly, was totally not expecting unless there were less people in the class than there were ribbons. =P ). His best ribbon of the day was a second in the green horse w/t/c class and the one my first thought was when they called us, "wait....was that a mistake?".
The cantering was just a ... 'well, let's see how he does' thing. We haven't done a lot of it and I can say for certain our transitions weren't pretty (he doesn't know "outside leg behind the girth" yet so to get him to go involves a lot more kicking than it should) but once he got into the canter, it was nice, so long as I could keep him going. Of course, now he has to learn leads (and so do I).
I wouldn't have signed up for the english equitation (also w/t/c) class if I'd realized they'd have everyone line up on the rail and canter one at a time down the centerline. Except it wasn't "just" canter, it was "canter left lead, then a simple change, canter right lead, stop, back up five steps, then get back in line". Needless to say....we didn't do that. I'm not sure if that's typical for a class like that or they did it because there were so many people in it and they didn't want everyone cantering all at once.
Anyway, there are a bunch of pics I can post, but here's one I like of us about to turn a circle.