Monday, May 18, 2009

5/15/09 Blue Ribbon Lesson 1

I number it, because I see many more of these in our future. Ransom, R, and I all headed out, surprisingly by 6:00am. I say "surprising", because I felt like I was running late all morning. I wasn't, obviously, but I felt like it. Had some trouble getting the truck & trailer hooked up (note to self: don't leave the trailer crooked on the pad - this only makes backing up to it entirely too difficult).

Got a good hour down the road, BOOM! Driver's side, front axle, trailer tire. Well, snot! That's the last "old" tire on the trailer. Good thing R tagged along for the trip, 'cuz I would've woke him to come help - The lugnuts were a horrible pain to get off, and, about 45 minutes later, we were all back on the road. Considering a tire blew up, the trailer was elevated off the ground a while, and there was traffic around, Ransom did well. He wasn't entirely patient, but he did do well.

Arrived at BRM about a half hour late, I believe good considering the tire incident. Ransom went to a stall to chill while I changed clothes & gathered my things. We ended up having a dressage lesson in the open jump arena. I got Ransom ready (another note: He stands GREAT in cross ties, considerably calmer than even at home at the trailer), and gave him a brief lunge warm-up.

The lesson was phenominal. Started out between walk & halt, working on my core body strength. Barbara gave me a stretch to work on at halt, and at walk, "standing" in the saddle without stirrups. She told me to move upwards as quick as I wanted, but to focus on moving back down as slow as I could. Ransom played the game well, walking around like a soldier.

A bit into the lesson, we switched out saddles, and I rode in one of her dressage saddles. It was custom made, specifically for a short hip to knee length, with big knee rolls. As I sat down in it, she said to me, "Sometimes tack makes the difference. Now you will probably realize how those dressage riders sit the big trots, and ride the big canters without effort. You won't hear me tell you now where to put your knees or your legs, because there's nowhere else for them to go but the right place." It was pretty incredible, as the lesson moved forward...

Moved onto trot work. I concentrated very hard on shoulders, heels, and sitting behind my pelvis. I didn't hear, to my surprise, "heels down, shoulders back", but she did catch me with my fingers barely around the reins. ARgh! A bad habit that surfaces every now & then. At the trot, she spread my hands out a few inches, and gave commands for inside rein, outside rein, and leg cues. Next thing I know, Ransom is on the bit, in a long & low dressage frame, with a rounded back, in a big working trot. Completely beautiful to ride.

Barbara gave us a walk break, got Ransom back into that framed trot, and said to me, "Okay, come canter." I thought o O (Oh boy, here goes nothing. It's either going to be beautiful, or horrid) O o Our first canter-right wasn't amazing, and I knew I was leaning forward. A little of that, and we walked. She said to me, "Had that been a hunt saddle, I would tell you now it's amazing, looks great. But you're riding dressage, and we'll need to work on your position." I wish I could remember the other things she said, but whatever it was, it worked.

Come Canter. Beautiful work of art. I was sitting down, behind completely in the saddle, upper body moving fowards & back with Ransom's motion, and for that moment, I felt just like those big dressage riders. I swore to myself, Barbara, and R watching on that I was leaning back, but all insisted I wasn't.

Ransom broke gait from canter heading right. Barbara explained it was because, after rounding him, framing him on the bit, I was so satisfied my seat was correct, I forgot to add leg. Thinking to myself, o O (How cool! I've graduated out of "just stay on" to "let's adjust your legs and seat to keep him forward) O o

We changed direction, and repeated the same.
Come canter. Amazing yet again. After a canter set left, we talked a while, got him back up in a beautiful round working trot, and cantered again. This time, she even had me working on inside leg, inside rein, framing him again. Barbara said to me, "Now, more rein, and think "short". See if he'll shorten that stride. Right there! Good girl! Beautiful!" Ransom gave me about six strides of that beautiful short-strided dressage canter. Amazing! "Walk him out, good ride."

I learned so much, in a 45 minute lesson. There was a crowd at the rail, too. Two other students, and another lady were there watching us intently. There was another rider in the arena, but she politely stayed clear at the other end. An awesome ride, over all. One I want to repeat many more times.

Ransom trailered home politely. We stopped at a Discount Tire Co on the way home to replace the spare. Kudos to them in their Katy TX location for quickly shuffling customers, keeping the horse out of standing baking in the trailer! Hip Hip Hooray Thank you! If you're in the area, and tire shopping, they've got speedy polite service for equine haulers.

Other than a blown tire, it was a great day! I had a wonderful ride, good company, and made some new good friends. Barbara is going to be a resource for a long time coming, I think.

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