Monday, February 25, 2008

Day Three Post Ride & Overall Summary

Ground work - held the bit in my fingers while Instructor demonstrated various hand positions. Also demonstrated the difference between muscles pushing forward as opposed to bones & "energy" pushing forward.

To the horse. Iris was tacked up in jump saddle, and off we went. Worked on turning left & right by turning one back bone at a time. Started at top, worked to bottom. Both directions. Didn't feel this one, but went along for the ride anyways.

Was told to gather up my reins with (I believe) intent on trying to canter. I gathered up like I normally do, and immediately everything I did was wrong. Told inside rein was too tight, outside not tight enough. I tried to adjust, and Iris pulled the reins from my hands a little, and I allowed it. To "make sure" I was turning the horse with my reins, I was told to drop inside rein, and keep oscillating contact on outside. Iris' nose was to the outside throughout this whole routine. I was told "It has to be her idea to turn. Turn from your center, and she will follow." She did turn, but with her nose out. I could see her outside bridle parts, outside eyelashes, outside nose hairs. The works. Walked the long side still with nose out. At this point, I was asked "does this at least make logical sense to you what we're doing?" I said, "Absolutely not." So she yelled at me that it should make sense, and until I learn how to hold the reins I'm never going to learn how to ride correctly. Mental Shutdown began right here.

Went to the other end of the arena and continued with both reins again. My habit was to put my hands down at her withers, inside rein a tad shorter, and tried to move quietly with her irregular walk. We argued, and Instructor became more persistent that my hands must be up a good 4" higher than they were, and a decent 4" away from her neck on each side. I was reminded again and again that "until I get my hands in the right place, she isn't going to respond, and is not going to know what to do. I must quit trying to turn the horse with my hands." What it felt like was, I was starting the turn with my body, she would turn hers, then, in an effort to keep contact, the inside rein had to come back about an inch. Everytime my hands were uneven, I'd get scolded again. After about 15 minutes of this, the hour lesson time came to an end, and I hopped off, untacked, and the ride was over. I started crying, upset that I've never had an instructor tell me to hold my reins up that high, and in fact, have been yelled at for doing it accidentally once in frustration. It's never been acceptable to ride a horse with reins there, and my muscle memory & habit just aren't going to do it. When I asked "How is this the right way to do it, when I see hands & reins like mine were in the hunter & dressage lower level shows, and those are the riders that do well?", the answer was, "If winning the blue ribbon is all that matters to you, then do what you need to do for first place. But why not school your horse the right way at home?"

We had discussed, and agreed it was a good idea, that she ride Chewie a bit (make sure he knew what to expect), then repeat another lesson with me on him. That did not happen. After she lost her temper & yelled, there's no way I want that kind of attitude atop my sensitive horse. Absolutely no way.

I tried to gather my things & pack up, with full intent on gathering up my emotions & settling down before beginning the long journey home. Twice the Instructor tried to start the conversation again. Finally, after her fourth or so ask of "You look upset. Why are you so upset about all of this?", I realized she wasn't satisfied, and wouldn't be, until there was a big debate about the whole weekend. So I told her, "I thought we had an agreement. I did not realize I was going to commit this much time and this much effort to walk. I can walk my horse at home. I did not plan on driving all this way just to walk." She asked me, "Well, do you think you could do these things at the trot?" I answered, "I honestly don't know. You never gave me the chance to try." She half-heartedly apologized a few times "that the weekend wasn't what I expected", but would then repeat that, "She hopes that after I get home & get a chance to try all of these things on Chewie, I'll realize how much I've learned." I was told I'm welcome back, with or without my horse. I was also told "I'm a talented rider, and Chewie's a talented horse. She sees us going really far in the future. But I need to learn how to walk correctly first and learn how to hold my reins & turn my horse before I can even dream of going into trot or canter."

So, overall, my hopes of having a series of intense lessons at trot with a few confident bursts of canter just didn't happen. Instead, I settled for a lot of lessons at walk, and a few small things I might be able to carry into future rides. Chewie was hauled for two boring lessons, and I feel like I let him down by not letting him show Instructor how bright he really is. She saw one bad morning and automatically assumed he's a "hot, sensitive Thoroughbred."

Back on schedule, with plans for lunge line and ride free in the lunge circle tonight. Round pen still has a puddle in it, which perplexes me, as it hasn't rained in quite a few days.

Chewie and I are both happy to be home.

No comments: