I had a bit of an epiphany last night, but it seems silly now that I sit here and write it down. In the interest of sharing and learning and all things bloggy – I’ll write it down anyway.
So we’re working on our flat work. Last time I reported, my trainer basically told me that I had to make my horse work. Stop dropping his shoulders in the corners. Be “mean” if he doesn’t listen when I ask him to slow his trot (aka ask firmly instead of say… well okay you can trot fast I guess). Work on this great mystery called lateral work.
Basically, I’m not to only hack around on the buckle with my OTTB doing whatever the f he pleases.
Taking the advice to heart, I’m turning all of our rides into more than just exercise for him and I. Right now we are doing tons of circles asking for an inside bend. We’re working on our walk marching forward instead of alternating from meandering to downright static. We’re doing transitions (even the hard ones). We’re making our haunches move over to the left or right when I ask… okay he’s moving his haunches – I’m applying the leg pressure of death to make this happen.
Sounds great you say, but what’s the epiphany?
Well, one of the reasons I love the hunters is because I am a perfectionist and I want my ride to seem ‘pretty’ at all times. Nice big trot. Long and low. Slight drape in my reins. That’s all well and good when my horse is chill and at home, but the problem with being so concerned with looking pretty all the time is that you tend overlook some important foundations.
One day we’ll have the ‘pretty’ ride, whatever that means for us… but it’s going to take a log of ugly to get there. Last night there was a lot of ugly. Head in the air mouth gaping wide open angry horse ugly. There was also perching and loose lower legs and tough hands. Fugly.
But I sat up a bit straighter. He got a bit softer. I got a bit softer. The fugly melted just a tad. It still wasn’t a ‘pretty’ ride by my old standards, but at least it was educational. I got off feeling like we were both learning something and working towards a goal, instead of just having a nice ride because the stars and the moon aligned every so slightly in the proper way.
In short, it’s going to take a lot of fugly to make a true pretty picture.