Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lesson Notes: Cantering...Straight?!?

Last night's lesson did not start out auspiciously: I arrived at the barn early due to perhaps the best traffic of all time, and then curled up in my car to read for a bit...and fell asleep. Out cold. I woke up to my phone dinging with a text message from Hannah about horsey pun color names, and was totally, completely disoriented. I could not have told you my name, where I was, or why. Then I checked the clock and it was 7:07, aka 7 minutes after my lesson was supposed to start.

I sprinted inside, apologized profusely to L., and somehow managed to get on horseback by 7:25. Tris came out quite well, though we did not warm up at the walk for as long as I usually like. He was a little stiff and hard through the bridle as a consequence.

In many ways, the lesson was unremarkable. L. was after me not to get sucked into leaning forward, to sit on my outside rein, and to really connect his hind legs through to the bridle.

Our big breakthrough moment, however, was in the canter. I was having serious trouble softening him, per usual, and L. shouted for me to try a little bit of a counterbending feel. And I thought, that's a terrible idea, usually when I add in too much outside rein we run into walls, but I trusted her so I put my outside leg on, HARD, and asked for some counterbend and - WHOOSH. Tris straightened and all of a sudden I was sitting on a rocket, tapping into a whole world of power straight from his hind end. We had maybe a circle and a half like that and then I brought him back to the trot and tried to put together the assembled pieces of my brain.

L. explained that my habit of overbending in the canter to try to get some kind of suppleness was letting all the energy and push from his hind end shoot out his outside shoulder, and by straightening him up I was channeling that power more effectively. True to form, after tasting it once Tris was adamant that he wanted nothing to do with it for the next 20 minutes, but we fought through. (And unfortunately I do mean fought at times...he has been flubbing his right lead transition and it is driving. me. crazy.)

We finished with a really lovely trot, and quite a bit of walking around and cooling out, because between channeling all that new power and fighting my outside aids, he was puffing pretty good, even for only a 40 minute lesson.

Next ride, Thursday, probably a long hack, since I have expectations of getting to the barn while it's still light out.

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