Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lesson Day: Alisha

Thursday afternoon it was again too cold for me to want to haul Sunny. I layered on long underwear under my boots and jeans and headed over to Eric's to see who he'd have me ride.  No choice this time - when I arrived sans-pony, he informed me we were going to work on reinforcing muscle memory from last week. 

But instead of riding Pride, who was going to make me work for everything, he put me on Alisha.  Alisha, like many of Eric's horses, has competed successfully on a national level.  In her case, in several disciplines, including saddleseat and reining. A very sweet mare, he described her as an over-achiever.  If I was clear about what I wanted, she'd be spot on - if not, she was going to get anxious.  She has an upright build and a long, elegant neck - instead of having to work on elevation and getting lightness in front like I do with Sunny and had to with Pride, I'd have to work on solid cues and keeping her collected.   

He had me warm up hunt, with trotting transitions (and if that wasn't just a barrel full of monkeys in a western saddle!), haunches in/out and then we worked on walk/lope transitions, stops and rollbacks.  Transitions were MUCH easier - primarily because she's so light and forward that I could almost think her into a lope.  But she'd also happily pick up the wrong lead, so it was pretty clear if I was asking correctly or not.

Stopping was tougher - Alisha doesn't have sliders on, so the effect was a harder stop since all forward motion ceased immediately rather than continuing on into the slide as it did with Pride.  I managed to sit one decent stop - the last one, but overall had a really hard time not automatically bracing my lower back rather than melting down into my seat.  Just like with the spins last week, sitting the stop was much easier if I remembered to look up, rather than down.  Just rocking my head and shoulders back let Alisha lift her front end and tuck her butt properly.  And kept me from imitating a lawn dart.

Spins... still figuring those out.  Alisha has a club foot on the left front. Shorter tendon/ligament?  Eric explained and I didn't retain the technicalities.  Suffice it to say that she's trimmed well, and it doesn't affect her moving, except when she spins - because it's harder for her to go right, if she's not moving slightly forward when she starts, she'll step under rather than over in front. Since she spins like she does everything else - fast, I had trouble keeping up with her to the left.  But to the right because of her conformational defect, she's just a little slower.

From my point of view, that was not a bad thing - it was relatively speaking easier for me to at least try to get all my bits properly organized going right.  I'm almost getting the proper cluck-then-bump rhythm down...almost, but not quite.  But it's coming.

I actually practiced spinning very slowly, bareback, on Sunny yesterday, thinking about getting each of both of our body parts to move when I wanted them to.  Not that he had much of a clue, or that it would have resembled a spin to anyone watching us, but I think it helped me at least, and he's a trooper.  It's going to take some work - this is going to be another one of those maneuvers like the half-pass that should be simple, but where I get my rights and lefts all discombobulated. 

Is that not a patient face?


Tammy said...

How fun to ride a well trained horse. I wonder what that would be like? LOL! Good you are getting out and doing it even when it is too cold to haul. Nice day here today. I got 8 miles in. Sunny in NE! :)

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Wow! I gotta get over to the reining horse trainer and start getting some lessons. It sounds so fun.

SunnySD said...

It is fun - I never thought I'd like something that required you go faster before stopping, but it's a rush.

Can't believe the weather we're having so far this winter, either - they're saying 54' today! Not going to complain, 'cause it's great for riding!