The good news? The baby horse blues is over for the time being. Po has been a fantastic citizen so far this week. I hacked on my own Monday, and he gave me a really consistent, solid effort. On Tuesday I had a lesson, and again he showed up to try (although he told us he was vewy, vewy tired and a little butt sore from all the trying).
His good behavior on Tuesday was extra special because I pulled him out right before dinner time and the weather was whacky with a temp drop and storms coming in later that night. I rewarded his good choices with cookies, kisses, Theraplate, liniment and wrapping. Although to be fair, he gets the majority of those things even if he makes bad choices… but we both enjoy them more after a good ride.
On Monday, I brought out my new toy–a Pivo. Although I accidentally bought the red instead of the silver, it does the job for what I need it to… although if it could zoom more or smooth out that’d be better (appreciate any tips Pivo people). When I got home, I immediately dove into the videos and was both impressed and, well, illuminated.
The first thing that jumped out at me was how much my right leg swings. Though both my knees are bad, my right one is by far the worst. It’s the one I had surgery on a few years ago, and routinely hurts at the beginning of a ride/the next day after riding. A lot of PT helped last summer with the post-riding pain, but I have protected this leg in the saddle for years. As a result of that, I keep less weight on that heel and the leg goes swing swing swing. I can’t feel it in the saddle, but man I can see it now. Not impressed.
Trainer told me not to focus on this, because I will obsess over my right leg and abandon the rest of the picture. I’ve been riding with her for less than a month and she’s already figured out I’m a spazz (whoops). She’s right, but I’m trying to still the beast if you will.
A positive change is Poet’s trot. He’s already a lot stronger. Our “starting” trot looks like this:
His working trot, or what us hunters call a working trot, is so so so much better. I daresay it’s nice! Sometimes it feels a little rushed, but when I balance him, don’t create a false bend, and also balance with my core and hold my up post longer it feels floaty and fun and lovely. Neither one of us can hold it long, me more than him I’m sure, but it’s in there and it’s happening.
His canter feels stronger too, but I have got to let go. I’m addicted to pulling. I don’t even know I’m pulling. I think I’m being soft, and then I see video stills.
That was pretty much the theme of our lesson on Tuesday. Don’t pull. More leg. Straighten with leg. Adjust with leg. As far as I can tell, reins are only for half halts to balance in the corners before asking for a bend with the outside rein. Neat.
It’s not like I haven’t gotten this feedback before, but this is the most specific and timely and individual feedback. So that’s why I’m starting to actually digest it. But my brain wants to pull, to the detriment of my horse. We’re not going to be able to get much of anywhere until I literally let go.
The first few weeks Poet felt very mentally tired from the move and changing all the things. Now I’m the one that feels mentally tired, mostly from very-not-horsey-life stuff but also trying to retrain myself how to ride. Trainer says I’ve been riding for a long time like this, so it’s not going to fix immediately. She’s right. But I force myself to be patient when it comes to my horse, because it’s not fair to rush them. I’m totally fine with rushing myself, ha. I want to fix my issues immediately, which I know isn’t realistic.
But I’ll keep plugging along and trying and practicing and and and.