Time: 1 hr
Pre-cursor to Ride in which I ramble about nothing: ...I have some stuff going on that has been severely messing with my head as of late. (Blog post to come about that one of these days) So, along with being an emotional, unstable wreck at times... I'm in the centre of hurricane midterms, quickly approaching the Tsunami otherwise known as Finals, more specifically... term papers. & to top it all off, I started a new job and although it's easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie, i'm now busy Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings. I'm busy and I'm sad and I'm in a bit of a mess.
So, what does this have to do with my weekly lesson you ask?
Well, I rode Wednesday than bailed Saturday because I felt sick, and knew that I had to be "responsible" and study. (Even though, in times like these I am prone to mentally shutting down and doing absolutely nothing) So, once Monday had rolled around I was feeling all stressed out, and was worried that my mental state at the moment would really affect my riding. Plus, it felt like I was lacking in Quiz-Louisa time.
Good news is that going riding was probably the best thing for me. As always, spending time in silence with horses can cure a lot of my mental mania. I got out to the barn earlier than usual and Quiz had been rolling in our new-found springtime mud (apparently she only rolls on her left side). So, I spent some decent time featuring a curry comb and the shedding blade and got her nice and shiny clean again. I actually love grooming, it's just that mental down time for me. I like picking and fussing and brushing, zen time.
Now, without further ado.. the actual ride..
Ride: So? Remember all that talk about my own mental mania, apparently Quiz had some too. Usually she's a little feisty to begin with but she would not check back at the jog or lope for me. I've never had to use so much rein on her to attempt to get her to check back and relax into the gaits. Furthermore, if I left the small circle and attempted to lope or jog the rail she would shut down when I asked her to check back and either stop, or walk. My trainer attributes this to the fact she has a foundation of reining training, and that when they got her she was used to doing extremley fast, small circles, and not a lot of long, rail-style loping. Still, nonetheless, I can sense it's frusterating for her, and it is for me as well.
My trainer got me to lope her in a small circle, for every half a circle we would lope, for the other half I would transition into a jog and back again. She explained to me that attempting to check Quiz back with just reins was clearly not working and that she was getting too tough on the bit and that this exercise would help her understand the point of checking back, while also asking her to work with the bit, not evade, or push on it. It seemed to help and Quiz was better to check after that... but still not great. I'm not sure if it's me, I'll ask her to jog from a lope and more often than not she either screeches to a halt, or breaks down right into a walk. I suppose that's a sign that I need to be using more verbal cues with her, and then asking for specific actions in more consistent ways.
Other than our issues with checking back, Quiz didn't have as big of a stop as i'm used to with her. All of a sudden she was evading and leaking out of a stop, so i'd back her after stopping.. but by the end of the lesson I still wasn't feeling like she was 100% stopping like she usually does.
I also have to watch my position at times, when loping a circle I tend to let her cut in, thus causing her to speed up and cut corners. We've figured out that when asking her to lope I shouldn't cluck to her, it causes her to rush the transition, so I've been working on asking in a more calm, non-verbal way. Also, again in those damn circles, I drop my shoulder and kind of angle into the centre of the circle - I need to focus on sitting up straight, with evenness in my body. Finally, when asking for a rollback, for example a rollback to the left, I'll drop my left hand/rein halfway through the turnaround, I need to keep both hands more consistent.
This was the first lesson with Quiz where I felt like our communication was really off. I can't help but wonder if my riding, with the addition of my mental state was causing this hurried, gross mess that was the outcome of our weekly lesson... it can be a bit of a confidence blow.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, keep riding, keep learning. Everyone, including horses, have their bad days.
For next time: Work on checking back without shutting down (utilizing different methods such as the circle jog-lope technique), and focus on keeping an evenness in hand and body posture while loping circles.
Most importantly, leave the stress and agitation of life in the truck before entering the barn. =)