After nearly three weeks without a proper riding lesson, I got to have two this week! Neither were with my usual instructor, Alex; I had Katie for them both. She's tough and works you hard.
On Tuesday, Charlie Brown was being very lazy. He didn't want to work, so Katie had me working on my transitions and riding in a 20m circle for everything. I'm not very good at giving aids, which led to sloppy transitions, and I have REALLY REALLY BAD steering. I nearly ran Katie over several times. I wasn't quick and clear enough with my aids, nor with following them up with a strong crack of the whip immediately afterwards. Charlie B knew he could get away with a lot and he did.
However, despite the fact that my riding was bad, I really worked hard and enjoyed myself. I noted several things that I was proud of.
1. I was on the correct diagonal most of the time and I'm pretty sure I felt it once, because I came into trot, it felt wrong, I looked down and corrected. Progress!
2. Despite some really messy transitions I never felt as if I was off-balance. I'm getting the hang of this cantering thing! Whenever I feel a bit wobbly I just tighten my lower leg
3. I'm starting to get the hang of giving aids in rising trot. The rhythm and strength in my lower leg isn't there yet, but it's starting to come!
Still, overall, my riding wasn't that good. Today, I had another lesson, with Katie again. I swear they must have put something in Charlie Brown's feed, because he was so forward today! He did not want to walk, he absolutely did not want to halt and stand still!
Katie said I had a big improvement. I was much clearer with my whip, riding better with my leg, and I was firmer with Charlie B. Overall, he knew I wasn't a total beginner, so I was going to make him work, and I was giving him interesting things to do so he was engaged and listening well.
We worked on my transitions and my haphazard steering. I was doing circles in the centre of the arena (i.e. With no walls to help me) and some of them looked like the letter e. Or a teacup. My steering is bad. If I drove like this they'd pull me over and subject me to a barrage of breathalysers and blood tests.
Then I trotted figure eights for the first time, and then worked on direct transitions (walk/canter), and then I had a go at simple changes through walk. Charlie was all fired up and raring to go, so walk/canter transitions only had a single stride of trot, which was great, but I had much more trouble with my downward transitions. I was supposed to be in walk at X, but he didn't like to come out of his trot at all. I never usually have to restrain Charlie from trotting in walk, either; he's normally content to go as slow as he can.
My transitions weren't dressage quality but they were a lot better than last time. Katie said I was doing really well, and she's not ready with the praise. At one point, when she asked me what I thought of what I'd just done, I said, "Soooo much to work on, that one was bad," and she said, "Actually, it wasn't at all!"
I had trouble getting him to slow for the simple change, but he was doing really well at going straight back into canter after it. And I'm feeling still more secure in my seat. I only had stirrup problems twice and both were quickly solved, which suggests I'm improving with my heels too!
At the end of my lesson, I asked Katie how good I had to be to loan a horse. She said that at my current rate of progress, it wouldn't be long before I was ready to loan someone like Charlie Brown (who is already on loan D:) and she'd talk to Sarah, the stable proprietor, to see who was available and who might suit me, for when I am ready.
All in all, I am feeling GREAT about this week's riding and today's lesson in particular. I finished exhausted but jubilant