I treat myself to private lessons, so I have a lot of control over what I get to learn. I am not looking for specific things to achieve within the four months - I take as long as I take to learn things - but more a collection of ideas about what I should be pursuing next.
At the end of last summer, I could ride walk, trot and canter, but was still improving the way I sat the canter - I tense up when I'm trying to nudge the horse forwards. I was learning a bit more about contact and beginning to learn how to perform half-halts. I had had two 'jumping' lessons, and had gone over very low cross-rails in trot, holding onto the horse's mane to make sure my hands didn't pull his mouth. I had done leg yielding in trot, on the straight and on a circle. I was beginning to strengthen my leg so I could keep it still and give strong, clear aids.
I already know some things I want to work on:
I want to improve the use of my hands - right now they flap about quite a bit. I want to learn how to use my hands better and really feel what's going on at the end, so I can learn how to properly take and release pressure. In my lesson today, the horse really began to reach for the contact, which was a great feeling :)
I want to strengthen my lower leg a lot.
I want to improve my seat so I can really relax in the saddle and stop tensing.
In the lesson I had today, I had my first go at shortening and lengthening the horse's stride. Mr Darcy was wonderful and began to engage his topline muscles much more and work well. I would like to learn more about this sort of thing, about getting him to use his body properly, giving him lots of impulsion, and so on.
I want to do good simple changes.
I want to become much more aware of the way the horse is communicating with me and how I can communicate with him.
What else do you think would be good things for a novice rider like myself to work on? Obviously there are many things I need to practice, practice, practice, and only experience will help me improve, but any suggestions you guys have for things I should think about doing this summer would be good too.
Please note that I will be riding about twice a week for half an hour at a time, one-on-one lessons, on school horses that are pretty lazy and will get away with doing as little as possible until you give them a good wake-up call!
Also, I don't know much about horsecare itself. For example, I don't have to tack up my horse or anything. I have a basic idea of how it all goes and have helped tack up, untack and blanket the horses I ride before, but I would like to cement my knowledge of how to do all that. I can curry and brush a horse and pick out his hooves. But I'd like to see what else I can learn about all the stuff that happens out of the saddle.