Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend update 1... hay and Lesson 2,

The weather forecast Friday called for rain after 11 PM - which was actually a welcome prospect, as we haven't seen much wet since sometime in September (strange to be hoping for rain after the downpours of spring and summer!).

A call from T in the afternoon canceled my evening riding plans - friends had 400+ small squares of really lovely grass hay still on the field and no one to pick them up, could we help? Absolutely!

Three of us headed over with our truck, hooked to the hay trailer, and commenced stacking. Lucky me - and I say that in all sincerity! - got to drive. Even at 45-50 lbs, I'm not sure how long I could have stacked. We put nearly 200 bales on the trailer...

maneuvered the load into the machine shed undercover for later unloading, and headed back out. This time with directions to pick up the "old" Ford grain truck, drop the sliding gate off the back, and load it. Again, I got to drive....

By this point it was dark, and the "old" Ford is, as it happens, not only a manual transmission, but possesses a split rear axle. Hmmm.... it's been at least 15 years since I drove anything with a clutch other than a lawn mower, and the cab had no interior lights, dash or otherwise, whatsoever. Still, once I figured out I could start in 2nd gear, and how to baby the gas pedal on take-off, I managed. Just pity poor T, who was stacking for that load! But I didn't throw anyone off, and we loaded around 100 bales on that before things got a bit tippy.

We did two more loads, one on our pick-up, and one last pass (with a few more hands to help) with another truck and (I kid you not) an actual covered wagon - the farm owner has mule teams - and all but 16 bales were loaded and under cover for the night. We left our truck parked in the barn and headed home in one of their trucks.

And of course, we had no rain the entire weekend.

Saturday I had my second lesson. I rode one of the trainer's horses this time, a 13-year-old Arab gelding who answered to Nick. Nick's past career involved showing to a fairly high level with junior riders, but in recent years he's been primarily a lesson horse. I was informed that he was very forward, and in possession of all sorts of buttons, but I was going to have to work to do things properly - otherwise he'd do pretty much as little work as possible. Good to know.

We started with the same things E had me working on with Sunny - bending, counter bending, reversing through a counter-bend at the walk, and moved on to the same exercises trotting - along with several reminders to watch my diagonals (sigh). After I could keep him pretty much consistently collected, we moved on to sitting trot and trot/lope transitions.

The longer I rode, the more came back, and the easier it felt. It helped immensely that Nick was very honest about doing what I asked when the cues were right - and I could really feel the difference when he hollowed, bulged a shoulder, or alternatively, softened and collected in response to something I was doing. And E was great about waiting to see if I could feel a problem developing and fix it myself before he prompted me, which I greatly appreciated.

Three things I need to work on:
  • rolling my shoulders up and back more (and remember to take deep breaths)
  • stop giving away my outside shoulder
  • relax my lower back (!)
To practice with Sunny:
  • Nice, round circles
  • Counter-bends to reverse directions on a circle (I kept doing them wrong or really poorly until I finally managed to get my head around circling to the left with a right bend, looking left and turning left all at the same time).
I have another lesson next weekend, so we'll see how I do at retaining everything I learned this time!