Friday, November 11, 2011

Lesson Day

This week's lesson day was much more pleasant than last! 
Nu-nu thinks so, too
It was in the 50's again, sunny and almost no wind.  Instead of trying not to blow away and scooting away from plastic monsters, I was pushing up my sleeves and Sunny was actually sweating.

I tacked up - sans spurs - and had the arena to myself for about 15 minutes while Eric put away the horse he'd been working with when I got there and collected his next victim.  (I don't mind at all if he rides while he teaches.  It's really helpful to be able to have a visual demonstration when I'm not getting the hang of something.)  His mount this time was a finished reiner, so he showed me some slides, as well - bonus! :)

This time he had me go straight from warming up into a series of really round figure eights, loose rein, just picking up the inside rein and cuing bend with my legs.  Good practice finding my diagonals, and the beginning of working toward asking for flying lead changes.  But for now, just working on even, round circles and proper bend without either of us dropping our shoulders.

Gradually he had me ask for more collection - I can definitely feel that Sunny's getting lighter on his front end and being able to carry himself in a more balanced way.  Practicing with spurs did help - but I didn't miss them during the lesson at all except for canter right.  Eh... straggly, rough, and stiff - he wanted to canter completely flat, stick his nose to the outside, and turn his body into a board.  But we worked through it and eventually managed a not-completely-sucky departure and decent downward transition when I asked for it as opposed to when he wanted to slow down. 

We finished by working some more on half-passing, and a revisit to that exercise Eric showed me a couple of weeks ago.  The one where I ask him to spiral in until he's sort of snail-shaped, then unwind him by rocking him from the forehand to a reverse spiral on the haunches and out- which makes about as much sense when I try to explain it as it was when I tried to ask Sunny to do it.  With some coaching as to hand was "inside" and therefore needed to be raised and which heel I needed to be pushing which hip over with, Sunny was doing the whole thing beautifully.  Which was fabulous - but when I tried to do it by myself today, dyslexia kicked in again and I'm all muddled.  I can tell he's trying to do what I'm asking for - it's just that I'm not asking him right.  Sigh...

Anyway, it was chilly and getting along to dark by the time I managed to get him dry enough to put in the trailer - of course the cooler I ordered arrived today.  But I'm sure there'll be plenty more opportunities to use it before winter kicks in.

Homework:  Trotting lots of big round figure-eights.  No cutting across on the diagonals, he wants two ROUND circles stuck together.  Spiral in and outs, and more side-passing along the fence.  (I don't think he trusts me to work on half-passing without him there to coach me on right/left bend - can't say I blame him!)

It was a great lesson, but the most exciting moment of the day?  Turning the last corner half a mile from the farm and hearing this completely awful, horrible, no-good, very bad screeching noise start behind me.  I was going really slowly anyway, so I tapped the brakes to see if something was sticking and I could unstick it.  No dice.  Movement = squealing.  I stopped completely, put it in park and made a quick loop around - other than the boys shifting around, no tires hot, low or smoking....

I could see headlights coming, so not being parked in the middle of the road seemed like a good idea. I was actually on the phone (bluetooth earpiece - love that handsfree!) with my mom.  She called to my dad to pick up the extension - he's the go-to guy in the family when anything starts making scary noises.  The consensus was since nothing seemed to be visibly wrong and I had less than a 1/4 mile to go, I might as well get there, get the horses unloaded and then try to figure out the shrieking. 

The boys didn't seem to be unduly alarmed which was good, so I got them unloaded and tucked up for the night.  Re-checked tires, etc.  Still nothing hot or smoking, and nothing loose or wiggly.  It really sounded like brakes - the engine sounded fine until I put it in drive and took my foot off the brake.  SCHREEAAK-sqeeeSSShriek.  But impossible to tell from the cab if it was the truck or trailer making the noise.  The advice from several states away was try reverse - lo and behold, no noise going backwards.  And when I put it in drive again, silence - or at least normal noise, no squealing.  The most likely explanation was a rock wedged somewhere it wasn't supposed to be - that corner is really washboarded, and it would be easy to kick something up.  No shrieking all the way home, and no weird noises today, either, so hopefully that's all it was.  Sure did wake me up, though!

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