Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lesson day: Pride

So glad I'd already decided the boys were not going tonight.  The road over to Eric's was shiny, just greasy-glazed with ice.  I left early so I could go nice and slow, and I was glad I did.

Once I was in the nice warm barn, I didn't want to go back out - and Eric, who was fighting a nasty cold and had very little voice, didn't either.  I got to ride Pride.  He's so cute!  Have I mentioned he's a stallion?  You'd never know it - his manners are no different than any other horse in the barn, and he's not handled or treated any differently.  Plain web buckle halter and a cotton lead. 

The lesson was an interesting combination of hunt-seat and reining.  I got to do two-point in a western saddle, and practice spins.  My leg position (thanks to the two-point practice with Sunny) was much improved, but I'm collapsing my right shoulder consistently on lope departures, and I'm bracing into my stops.  Nice to know I'm at least being consistent!

So... I got to practice lope departures with the reins in my outside hand and my inside hand planted on Pride's butt.  Which both of us thought was odd, but it did work.  At least until I got to try with both hands again.  Sigh...  The good thing was lesson I was able to give Pride much clearer cues and at least he was making the transitions smoothly.

We did a lot of stopping.  And a lot of loping.  And after Pride spooked and bounced at the dog, I got a serious lecture on not bracing.  I stiffened up, which pushed my seat out of the saddle rather than sinking into it and going with him - I caught myself and Pride didn't take advantage, but it's apparently one bad habit Eric takes pretty seriously, as it was about as close to irate as I've heard him get. He reiterated that as much trail riding as I do, I MUST learn to go with  the horse or I'm going to end up on the ground. Crud!  I know that, too.  I just have a hard time translating the knowing to the doing.

Unfortunately it's one of those nasty habits I've had for a very long time - hopefully he'll be able to help me fix it.  And I could tell he was ready to get after me for it again, as he stopped discouraging the dog from playing in the arena, but he'll have to wait for another opportunity - neither the dog nor the horse cooperated.  But it's only a matter of time....

Cool down was basically just a few rounds of the arena to let Pride stretch his neck and back.  Living inside, he's pretty darn sleek and he's also in excellent shape - he wasn't the slightest bit sweaty when we finished, but I took some extra time brushing him off anyway.  He was a very good boy, even if I could feel him getting lazy on me toward the end of the hour.  All in all it was a good lesson, and as always I have plenty to think about and try to assimilate before next week.

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