Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lesson Day: Buddy - One Down, Two To Go

Pre-lesson last night Buddy and I had three rides left before Saturday's show.  (Today will be Buddy's dress rehearsal.)  T came along to video me, so I could really see what I'm doing when I'm doing things right. And wrong.

Buddy was in a much more cooperative frame of mind, and although his walk still had springs, at least he wasn't resentful about it.  If I can manage to keep his shoulders up and poll level (he has a tendency to forget he's not an English Pleasure horse any more when he gets distracted) we actually look pretty good.  I sing Mary had a little lamb at varying speeds to myself as we circle - to help keep our rhythm steady.  Occasionally it even works.  

In an effort to break the "reverse and normal trot" spin cycle engrained in Buddy's brain, Eric had me practicing reverse, halt and back two steps.  We also did multiple sitting trot/working trot/sitting trot transitions to stop him anticipating a canter sequence every time I stopped posting.  Cuing a transition from walk to working trot is a deliberately soft, slow upward drift through sitting trot - with Buddy, it's always easier to gain speed than it is to shed it.

Canter still has room for improvement, but I did manage to downshift from his immediate surge to hand gallop within only three strides or so, and maintain an only slightly too fast rate in both directions.  And downward transitions aren't taking four laps any longer.

I'm still having trouble keeping my lower leg steady consistently, which probably also accounts for some of Buddy's raciness, and a sound-track playing "shoulders back, tighten your abs!" wouldn't be unwelcome.  But...

When I cued the replay last night I discovered two brief snips of me riding Sunny last fall after my first lesson.  At only a couple of seconds apiece, they still showed rounded back and shoulders, Sunny with his nose in the air... Watching back the 20 minutes of last night's ride before the battery died on the camera, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much my seat and posture have improved.  I know I feel more secure, and that's huge all by itself.

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