I arrived fresh and early. It was a quiet trip up, without too much traffic. The last little bit crossing under the interstate gets a little hairy, but otherwise, a minor event getting there. I was invited to settle Ransom down in a stall, get changed, and relax a while. There were a few other lessons going on, so I watched a bit.
I got to watch two greenies go dressage. Nifty fun! Makes me thankful I'm not schooling a green horse.
It was my turn. Ransom was quiet & relaxed tacking up, so I skipped the lunging step. Last time I rode at BRM, I didn't lunge, and he looked really relaxed and I figured I'd take advantage.
I gave him a few laps at walk, then Barbara asked for trot. That went well, and she praised us for looking nice. She asked for a little flat canter, and that was pretty as well. Go Ransom! He was awesome!
Then she asked us to trot through some poles. There were three trot poles, maybe 4 canter strides away there were another two. I can laugh now, but it sure wasn't funny then. Ransom trotted three, trotted to the second two, then jumped both in one stride landing in canter. Oh good grief! Heading the other way, Barb suggested I let my eyes soften towards the ground out ahead of the poles, and Ransom broke to a walk. *giggle* "Girl, you're gonna have to let him go a little more than that in front of them." We did this again and again heading both ways, when Barb must have seen something that got her attention.
She had me go back to the open end of the arena, and asked "Did the HM people work on release? You're really letting go over the poles, but your core is all over the place. No wonder you feel like he's racing and you're losing your balance. Give me a trot in two point." I did, well, I tried.
"Open up your chest. Yeah, that's not enough, more, more. I'll fix you. Stick your arms out to your sides." I almost fell flat on Ransom's neck. Barbara laughed, "That's one way to get you to quit leaning on your hands on his neck. That's why he's getting faster - you're pushing him with your hands resting them there. It's knuckles in the back of his neck - think about it. It hurts, and he's trying to get away from it." So we did LOTS of trot two point to find balance without resting my hands on his neck.
She described it like this..
You need to almost arch your back - something I don't tell hardly any other female students. Most girls arch their back, but you're slouchy. It's something you can get away with in dressage, because you're riding with mostly seat & leg, but in hunters, you're going to have to straighten that back out, and ride without your hands resting on him. Hours and Hours of trot & canter at home with your hands out like an airplane - no reins. She suggested "ride like you've got a stick shoved up your butt, still, and flat. There! Now, don't move your position." It lasted about three trot strides before I lost it again ...
She also had me trot two point without stirrups. Again, I almost went splat. I could barely lift myself out of the saddle. "That's your two point, no higher." She had another student demonstrate how to move in the jump. The girl did NOT really move, at all. Her hands moved a little teensie bit. The rest of her, didn't. The horse came to her, she really didn't move up to him. It was fantastic.. I could've kept watching (and later wished I'd paid closer attention).
Back to my lesson. We also rode at trot two point over one ground pole. Later, we picked up canter, and I worked so hard to keep the back arched & shoulders opened up, hands up off his neck. Cantered over the pole a few times.
My bad balance made his canter feel HUGE. In fact, I felt a little "Whoa goofy pony" scared a couple times. Barb laughed, and made me push him farther into a bigger and bigger canter. As Ransom rolled on, she kept smooching to him, and he kept going bigger. I was struggling to relax, and she finally said to me, "You need to ENJOY your HORSE! Let him run once in a while until you get used to it. Next time I go fox hunting, I'm taking you with me! Second field & all, but you need to go! You need to trust him & let him go!" (At the phrase fox-hunting, I laughed, but truly I wanted to puke!)
I got So much accomplished, but have So much to work on. I need hours and hours and hours either on the end of a lunge line, or in the newly enlarged arena once it's enclosed again.
I've been challenged by Barbara to sit up straight shoulders back at my office desk chair, in the truck, and the dinner table. She also suggested standing up against a flat wall every day & not to leave it until my shoulders are against the wall, and then walk away without moving my back & shoulders. So I'm trying..