Monday 9 July 2018

Omg! A Lesson!

I had my first lesson in at least two years on Wednesday. There is a coach who has been coming to the barn since the winter and teaching a bunch of people. They all seem really happy with her. I haven't been able to commit to regular lessons so far mostly due to scheduling (she often flips her night during the week to a night that I usually work) but she is a school teacher by trade and has the summer off. I hope to be able to get a lesson in each week through the summer, then play it by ear from there.

I tacked Phantom up and was on about 15 minutes before my scheduled time. I should have known Phantom was in a weird mood when she put her foot up on the mounting block like she was going to stand on it like a podium. That mounting block is tall - well over the height of her knees. I screeched "nonononono!" at her, then burst out laughing when she brought her foot back down. I know she likes standing on the podium, but no idea why she offered it at that time.
Guess who was napping again? (No media from my ride so you get random pictures.)
I hopped on using the mounting block in the indoor arena, and since I left the gate open Phantom knew we were heading out. We headed over to the outdoor dressage ring with some unrequired perk in her step. Apparently I haven't ridden outside enough this year and it's still Super Exciting.

As I was heading out to the ring I noticed another horse from the family that had trailered in was getting tacked up. Ruh roh. Was she running late? Yep. I guess this kid has been off with an injury and the coach didn't realize that she was riding again. Normally it wouldn't be a major issue for me, but I was heading into work on my day off to do something and had to be there at a certain time. So I was slightly annoyed and worried.

So I decided to take Phantom for a walk down to the neighbour's place. That wasted 20 minutes. When I got back we had another 15 minutes before my lesson, so I puttered around the outside of the ring with some trot.

Finally it was my time. I got kitted up in the headset system that the coach uses - which is fantastic. It was the first time that I had ridden with one.
I discovered that the white marking on Cisco's lower lip is simply called "white on lower lip". I prefer the term "hippopotamus lips".

How did the lesson go? Well, for a first lesson, it was okay. I didn't hear anything new to me. She wanted my legs more forward (I had a feeling she would), more weight in my heels, thumbs on top, less nagging with my leg. All habits you tend to get into when you don't have anyone to yell at you to fix it on a regular basis.

She seemed to like Phantom - called her a good mover at one point. Hah!

The best part about my lesson?

She saw us at our worst.

I think it was a combination of a few things - overly perky pony on one of the first rides outside, we were in a 20m x 40m arena for the first time in a long time after being in a very large arena for the last year, she might be getting close to needing her teeth done (she'll let me know when I'm not allowed to touch her mouth), and of course, me having to ride a certain way instead of our normal pattern.

When we started off at a trot to the right, I got comments about how straight we were, and that she liked the slight shoulder fore positioning. It was a great shoulder fore. Except that I wasn't asking for it.

On a 20m circle at the end of the arena, I'd put a leg on to steer and she'd overreact and shoot in or out. I got stuck on a circle for a few minutes trying to make it round.
My poop picking posse.
I had expressed at the beginning of the ride that the short-term goal was to figure out how to get more contact in my right rein when tracking left. When on the left rein, I was trying to put her in a slight shoulder fore before the corner so that I could use my outside aids around the turn. But my stupid left hand doesn't want to give forward. And Phantom hates this. And she got pissy and did her not gonna turn left trick, which is tuck her head into her chest and bulge her shoulder out to the right. My correction had to be to thunk her with my right leg, and then she got super pissy, and that was when I was asked to canter. Which had much more expression than it needed to have.

After a bit of canter we were back to trot, and I was asked to lengthen the trot. I put my leg on and her head shot up in the air and she scooted forward. I rebalanced and tried again and she shot off into canter. Yoy.

I knew when I got on Phantom that she was a bit up, but it's been a while since she's felt like this that I forgot that she waits until we canter to express her enthusiasm. And once we've cantered, that's all she can do. Moar canter.

It doesn't bother me that I had a bad ride. If I'm paying for a lesson, I want to either learn something new, or how to deal with problems that we're having. If my ride is perfect I feel like I'm not being pushed enough. I mean, I don't want to have a bad ride every lesson, but it's nice to be pushed out of our comfort zone on occasion.

For homework I was asked to work on halting and standing immobile on contact. Phantom is the overachieving type of mare who thinks that everything should be a speed event. Halting and standing has never been a strength, though she usually does it better than we were doing it that day (I do work on it regularly).

Hopefully I will have a more agreeable horse on my next lesson so that we can work on something slightly more exciting than a 20m circle!


  1. It's hard to get back into lessons and knock the rust off. I think you handled the delay well- that drives me nutty.

  2. it's always nice to have that lesson opportunity when the pony maybe isn't at her best haha - sounds like a good first lesson!

    1. There weren't any lightbulb moments, just reinforcement of things I've let slide. Plus she said I was obviously a good rider - so I like her!

  3. Man 2 years without a lesson!!! My mom isn't very horsey but one time she told me that "You should hope to have problems crop up in a clinic or lesson because you are paying for help." Definitely help me get a new perspective on riding in front of others and it seems like you already have that ingrained!

    1. I was thinking back and I acutually think it's been 3 years already. Time has flown by!