The First Horse Learning Journey
So I figure the best way to watch our progress would be to write it all down!
The pony - Pandora! She is a 5year old OTTB. She has been off the track for about 8 months with most of that time spent in the paddock being a horse. She is a real sweetie but she is a mare and very food orientated :lol: There is no nasty-ness or malice, just mare-i-ness!
The rider - I have mostly had lessons or just trail ridden for most of my life. I have never owned my own horse and this is my first proper lease so its a huge learning curve for both of us. Pandora' mum is actually a track rider so has a huge knowledge base and I also have an awesome trainer so we defintely have the right people around me.
Confidence is my biggest issue at the moment, and the fear of falling off. My trainer keeps telling me its not going to hurt as much as I think it will but I'm not convinced :lol:
6 Sept 13 - Lesson 1 - This was about my 4th lesson with my new trainer and my first lesson with P. She was awesome for a pony with every little training off the track. She is a nice trot and an even nicer canter (when I stop over thinking it and just doing it). Her brakes are awesome, especially for a OTTB but she was never fast anyway. Her (and my) steering needs a little working on.
Things I'm working on: not leaning forward, heels down and STOP OVER THINKING THINGS.
12 Sept 13 - This was the first time riding her on my own. Our first lesson her mum helped me get her ready. She trotted straight up to me in the paddock while I mucked around with her halter. Lead out of the paddock and down to the tie up area with no issues. She won't stand still while being tied up - this is something that I definitely want to correct because its irritating more than anything and it makes her more difficult to groom/saddle. Groomed her with no issues (except the whole not standing still thing). Saddle time - the girth isn't long enough. Her mum had managed to get it done up last week but I just couldn't get it close! I struggled for a good 15 minutes before I gave up, fed her and put her back in her paddock. I went to the tack store and brought her a longer girth because it just wasn't going to work for us. I also brought her a lovely purple saddle pad.
13 Sept 2013 - Lesson 2. Today she decided to bring out a little of her mare side. I started grooming her - all good. Grab the saddle pad and throw it on and the ears go back. Grab the saddle and place it on her back - the ears are still pinned back. Start to buckle up the girth by doing it up on the loosest hole possible and she bends her neck around to do some funny half attempt to bite me - there was no nastiness or malice in it but still not acceptable behaviour. I tapped her on the nose and she stopped it for a minute or so. I took the saddle off rubbed all over the back to make sure there was so sore spots. Put the saddle back on and she tries to have another go at me (again rather half heartedly). I freaked out thinking I was either doing something wrong or she was in pain. I grabbed my trainer and asked her to give me a hand - turns out she was just being a mare and she is a little girthy and I'm a noob! She tried the same thing on the trainer got a smack on the nose and pulled back and gave up after that and didn't care :lol:.
Lesson was good - my two point position is getting stronger. I almost don't need to hold onto her mane anymore for a whole ride around the arena (70m x 20m). Still got to remember to keep my heels down but they are getting better. We also tackled cantering - this is my biggest downfall at the moment - I over think is waaay too much. In my head its going to be this super fast gallop when in reality she has a lovely canter. P is also still working on circles lol as a OTTB is does straight better but circles are a whole new thing to her and I still need to perfect my circling aid. After too many attempts we finally got a beautiful canter in a nice half circle. It was a great way to finish the lesson and has made me feel a whole lot better about cantering.
15 Sept 2013 - So this was my first time riding by myself with P. Without my trainer or her mum. There was a heap of people around packing up after a weekend of shows and clinics. I felt like a total noob. I went to grab her from the paddock and there is the biggest horse in the paddock standing at the gate for feed time. Note to self: Don't always go out there when its feed time. So I managed to get into the paddock but getting out was proving to be a little harder. The horses owner happened to be walking up to the gate at the same time and goes "Oh his is my boy, but be careful because he kicks and bites :O". Great. Just great.
So I walk her down to the tie ups. I also think I'm tying her too long? I'm not sure what the recommend length is but considering she won't stand still I think its too long. All groomed. Now saddle time again. This time I just did what I had to do - I let her smell the saddle pad and threw it on. The ears went back again. I grabbed the saddle and put it on her back. She turned her head around and I told her to stop it. She let me lightly buckle up the girth. I took her for a quick walk - grabbed her bridle from the tack room and then buckled the girth up properly without any issues! YAY girth problem solved. I walked her into the arena - did the girth up another hole without any issues. Led her up the mounting block where she kept stepping forward on me. So I just stopped what I was doing and either backed her up or walked her around the mounting block and where I wanted her again. It only took 3 goes and she stood still to let me get on. Once I'm on I felt this massive rush of accomplishment. I got her groomed, tacked and got on without any major issues. I didn't get to ride for long because it was getting dark - but I worked on steering and circles. I kept it to the trot and walk and lots of transitions. I wish I had given the canter a go but I think positive small steps are better for my confidence. Kept my heels down and worked on my two point as well which is getting better as well!
I'm feeling much more confident and finding the love back again.
P had the farrier out today because her feet were overdue (another reason why I didn't want to ride her too much). Looking forward to riding again on Thursday and our lesson Friday.
19 Sept 2013 - Another non lesson day. Pandora has been moved to a separate paddock as there was a bully plus a few clashing personalities in the paddock. She has a few bites marks from the other horses so her mum decided it was time to move her out - and what I'm paying weekly covers the additional cost.
Finally got her to get my clean her hooves properly - she really doesn't like me doing her back feet but she does let me do them. She has nice new shiny front shoes and trimmed back feet too.
It took half the time for me to saddle her up and only 2 attempts to get one without her moving. Must practice just getting her to stand there once I'm on so she doesn't automatically go once my butt is in the saddle.
I still feel so nervous about people watching me - which is odd because I've never usually ridden without people watching me. We just stuck to walk and trotting - mostly circles and turns and keeping her straight when I wanted.
I'm really struggling to keep my heels down and my leg solid. I also feel like my seat is really weak, almost like I'm sitting on my crotch rather than on my seat bones especially stirrup-less. I guess this is something that will get better the more and more I ride.
Its frustrating because I know what I SHOULD be doing but actually getting my body to do it is so much harder. This frustration is also taking away from my enjoyment of horses :( I'm riding at the moment because I know I should more than anything else. I also don't think that my crazy schedule with work and uni is helping.
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