Saturday, October 29, 2011

No reins. No stirrups. No eyes.

So today my lesson was done entirely on the lunge line. No reins at all though I was allowed to grab mane if I felt the need. We alternated between stirrups and no stirrups though Jessica said the difference in my position between when I took up my stirrups and when I dropped them was pretty drastic. (better without) We did that walking and trotting. Then she had me close my eyes (here's where hanging on to something came in handy because if I didn't, I felt a bit of vertigo like I was about to fall off without anything to look at. Jessica says I'm relying too much on what my eyes tell me instead of what my body's telling me).

Then she let me take my stirrups back and open my eyes and we did some cantering. Then she let me still hold mane with one hand but with the other I had to raise it straight up above my head which had the effect of making me sit up straight instead of hunching forward like I want to. Apparently also my heels come down and once again, my position improves dramatically. Apparently it was so good Jessica was like, "WHY DIDN'T YOU BRING YOUR CAMERA TODAY?" Alas, I'd forgotten it at home.

Anyway, then she had me doing all that, and then I had to drop my stirrups while cantering. It was terrifying. Something in my brain said, "you're going to fall off if you do that" but of course, I didn't.

So we talked a lot about the need for me to develop a seat independent of my hands and for me to build up the muscle memory of what to do without having to "see" it and then take action. My homework for the week is to spend time riding without reins (and stirrups, if I can stand it) and do the raise an arm above my head thing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fairy Pony!

Our barn had a fun show today...somehow we came in as grand champion. :D

There was also a costume contest...I have been DYING to do one of these for like...ever. So here we are!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clips from Saturday

We started the lesson by trotting figure eights around two barrels (you can't see the other one, alas) to get Kieran's brains focused. When you hear Jessica near the end be like "there we go!" or whatever, he's really started relaxing into it and paying attention.

Then we moved on to trotting single turns over poles. This was to get me to really use my seat and leg to get him to turn, not so much with the reins. Plus I had to really think about creating a "wall" with the outside rein and leg to keep him from bulging out of the turn and instead keep it kind of crisp.

And then she added in some more poles so we had to make two turns in different directions (so like and S shape), building off the previous exercise except now I had to think ahead even more about what I was doing and not wait till the last minute to start asking for a turn.

Alas, this was the main stuff the video got before it shut itself off so you don't get to see the circle of ground poles we did or the simple changes around the barrels we did at the end of the lesson.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Things we discussed in the lesson:

1. I am, apparently, crooked. I find it easier to use my right leg and seatbone than my left leg and seatbone. I also sit skewed (I've noticed, now that I've been thinking about it, that I do it when sitting in chairs too). This likely helps explain some of the issues I've had with Kieran. Like cantering to the right is easier because I can use my right leg to keep him from drifting inward but going the other way is more trouble. Or how when we attempt sidepassing or turns on the forehand, it's easier when I ask him to go left because I'm using my right leg to do it, and vice versa.

2. We can actually trot (and canter!) around on a loooooose rein and not have him drift all the way inward. It just takes a lot of leg and me opening the outside rein (maybe a lot, now but still) instead of pulling back on it. And, for now, maybe tapping his inside shoulder (seriously, I was just tapping lightly, not smacking) with the whip to back up my leg. When I pull back with the rein (which is what I want to do because it's become habit even though I know it's wrong), he just sticks his nose to the outside, bulges his shoulder in, and keeps going wherever he wants. You know this, I know this. I've talked about it dozens of times, it seems. But tonight we were actually able to consistently go around at all gaits more or less straight and without too much cutting into the center (was it perfect? Nah, but it was a far sight better than before).

3. Really, basically everything we're doing is about getting me to better control my body and, in extension, better control Kieran's body so I'm not just trying to haul him around with the reins. If Jessica had her way, by the end of this, we won't need reins at all. ;) That'd be pretty cool. pictures from tonight, but here's a couple from our previous lesson on Saturday (was a makeup) that I didn't write about but should have while it was still fresh in my mind:

Look how he's crossing over on that turn!

We started out the lesson trotting figure eights around two barrels to get his brain on working since it'd been over a week since he'd last worked. We ended the lesson cantering in up the rail coming around between the barrels, going down to a trot, starting to turn around the other barrel (half a figure eight?) and cantering off on the other lead. :)

There was also a nice bit of trail riding that happened this weekend. Got to expose Kieran to all sorts of things: small children running up to pet the pretty ponies (*sigh*), small children on bicycles, a wildly barking herd of seven dogs (behind a fence), surveyor's tape blowin' in the wind, large (unmoving, turned off) construction equipment...all sorts of stuff. We even discovered a trail that has a bit of a slope and that we can probably use even during hunting season so we can get some work on not-flat-ground in. :)