Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Lesson

It was windier than all get-out yesterday - anybody know the roots of that saying?  I'm having visions of a whole bunch of hyper-active rugrats racing in and out of the house banging the door and letting huge gusts of air in....

Aaanyway - the gusts were topping 30 mph, and it's so dry that there were dust/leaf devils swirling around everywhere.  Nights have been down near freezing or below, so it was chilly, and I was crossing my fingers that it was going to get into the 50's as promised by my 4 pm lesson.

I pulled in at the farm, caught the boys - Sunny whinnied when he saw me, then turned around and walked about 10 steps the other direction while I was putting Thunder's halter on.  He didn't go so far as to play catch-me, but his opinion of the whole enterprise was clear.

I'd left plenty early, wanting to be able to take my time getting ready.  But it actually didn't take that long before I had him tacked up and ready to go.

It was just warm enough that well-layered, it wasn't bad to be out - except for all the dirt we were eating.  The arena had monsters - surrounding it.  Flapping plastic on some poles outside one end, ditto on the greenhouse on the other end.  And more yet on the sawdust bales stacked along the middle.  Sigh... of course, the flapping was only scary when Sunny had to work.  Stretchy walk on a loose rein and he'd stride right by. 

I wish I'd been able to be in two places at once and watch us - apparently Sunny is getting less heavy in front.  Walk/collected walk is much improved.  Sitting trot (me) is improving, but posting trot I kept missing my diagonals.  When I did get them, I'm pretty sure it was luck. Anybody know any good tricks getting them right more often?

For quite a few laps it was "Lift your left hand to your right shoulder and get his nose in, half-halt with the right hand! Don't let him look at that, or think about it - make him focus on you.  Good - now don't release that much.  Sit up, use your weight and make him balance.  More right leg - don't let him drop his shoulder.  Right hand!  Tip his nose - Good!"  Eventually we were getting circles that were more circle and less trapezoid. 

Through all of this, we were still working on transitions - walk, ask for more collection, sitting trot, back to walk, sitting trot, posting trot (missed diagonal - fix it!), sitting trot, down to walk, more collection... you get the idea.

Once we'd worked through the worst of the "monsters are gonna get me" reactions, we did do some canter work.  For a change, he actually had me asking for a bit of roundness, rather than it being just about my body position, so maybe that's getting better?  And I don't think Eric had to remind me to look up near as often.

My homework for next week - work on sidepassing down the fence without bulging, and on not releasing with my whole arm, just my pinkies.  I'm also supposed to find a pair of nubby English spurs to reinforce my leg - I'm asking properly, but Sunny's ignoring me.  Especially on the right - I've been ponying Thunder a lot, and I think Sunny's just getting used to ignoring any bumping that goes on over there.

Good points: Eric was complementary on Sunny's condition - Sunny may be round, and he was definitely warm - damp along his neck and back legs, and under the saddle - but he wasn't running sweat or puffing at all after a full hour's lesson.  He's starting to slobber nicely, and to carry the bit better.  And on that note, Eric repeated again he's impressed with how much improvement he's seeing in only a handful of lessons from where we started at.  From a bitless bridle and absolutely no contact to actually having a "great few strides there" I think is what he said a time or two - now it's just a matter of getting them strung a bit closer together until they make up a whole lap!

Made it back to the farm still in the daylight, which was nice.  Unloaded and turned the boys out with a couple handfuls of the ewe's alfalfa in their tire feeder for a treat.  (And I do mean handfuls - no sense in giving Sunny too many extra calories!) 

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