I've decided to start an online journal chronicling my riding lessons, solely so that I can look back in the future and smile at my old troubles, successes and everything in between.
As a little background before I start on today's lesson, I've had eight or nine so far (all half-hour privates), alongside one full day of two lessons, a trail ride and games on Australia Day.
March 3, 2012.
Well, I didn't think I'd be riding today because (as usual on a Saturday!) it was raining. Mum called sans beaucoup d'espoir, but no, they were on! Still, it was raining at home and out of boredom, we went on a search for a nice pair of jodhpurs. I found a quality, comfortable pair for $40 Since we'd been looking at getting me a helmet with the little cap (the stables' helmets are all very cap-less), and the Dublin helmets were on sale ($70 instead of $100), I picked up one of those, too. All in all, not a bad spend (thanks, Mum!) and within an hour, they'd be put to use.
I arrived at the stables early, but the large arena was free, the place was quiet and Dustin was free, so we started a bit earlier. I was on Ticket, a new horse I hadn't ridden before. Dustin led him to the arena, and I mounted. Luckily, the arena had barely gotten any rain, though a kilometre away on the trails it had been pouring! I was told Ticket was a bit like Daisy, another lesson horse I'd ridden quite a few times - lazy, but okay once he gets into it. He has a great canter, though, ideal pour moi, who is predominantly learning to canter at the moment, and he's a nice size for me, so I'll be on him for a while, which I'm not complaining about!
We started off going large in the walk for a few rounds, before progressing to a rising trot. I was completely thrown off by the sheer bounciness of it at first! He'd be a good horse for somebody first learning the trot because, boy, he doesn't give you much choice but to be propelled into the air! A few laps and I'd gotten the rhythm, though, although Dustin told me not to lift up so much with each beat, and although it took more effort not to rise so much than to go with the propulsion, apparently it looked much better After I'd gotten the feel of Ticket's trot, a few rein changes, twenty-metre circuits and a serpentine. Throughout that I discovered the truth in Dustin's words: Ticket is incredibly lazy. He'd slow to a walk practically twice a lap, and it took a whole lot of encouragement to get him back into trot. Once I figured out where he was slowing, though, I gave the leg aids a bit more oomph at those areas and he was much better.
Eventually, we went onto the main part of the lesson - the canter! I've had two lessons of canter practice before, though not more than two or three straights (I haven't advanced to turning at that speed yet!) per lesson. I'd intended to try getting him on the right lead - something I'd learned in the magical world of the internet - but it completely slipped my mind at the time, as we haven't gotten to leads yet. Still, my canter improved tenfold throughout the lesson! Heels down and back straight, essentially, my posture improved hugely (I've had a habit of leaning back quite a bit previously - my interpretation of going 'deep in the saddle', but apparently not the correct one ). I find that really just 'heels down' and the rest of the movement falls into place. I suspect some of my improvement came from Ticket's long-strided canter, though I was still a little bouncy at times, but I'm improving posture, leg work and most importantly - I don't hold onto the saddle. Except when I'm beginning and giving the leg aids, shh. I'll try to consciously avoid that next time.
After four or five straights of canter (after each of which, mind you, Ticket would decide it was time to walk again, and needed great encouragement to think otherwise) Dustin told me to slow him to a walk, and bring him in to dismount. So, I led him back to his stall, put the halter on, investigated the wear to my jodhpurs (minimal! Though the rain gave them a nice coating of water) and went to put my helmet back in the tack room before remembering no, I have my own fancy helmet now! Success!
All in all - a great lesson, I really enjoyed it!