Friday, June 25, 2010

Why I need riding lessons

I've decided I'm no good without a trainer of my own.  Really.  I can ride decently when I put some work into it but left to my own devices...I'm lazy.  That's right, I admit it.

What's wrong with jogging my H/J TB like a western horse so I can sit the trot?  Maybe, just maybe, because then I never build up the strength and balance to post?  Oh yeah, that's right.

But having a trainer just does something to my brain.  I can't fail them.  I will post until I fall off the horse dead before I complain.  I always try my hardest to do anything they ask.  I'm learning to ask questions instead of getting anxious or frustrated.  I never thought about it before but having given a few beginner lessons to kids myself I can tell you I can't stand when someone doesn't listen to me and try to do what I'm asking.  They don't have to get it right, they just have to acknowledge me and try to get it.  I guess maybe that makes me a good student although I don't think that's why I do it.  It's an ego thing.  I don't want to embarass myself, I want to be good at this.  I want it so much and I have my whole life.

I had a fabulous lesson on Tax on Wednesday.  It's like something just clicked into place.  I had felt really off balance posting when we first started and I was recovering from surgery.  All of a sudden my legs feel velcroed into place.  My shoulders finally feel far enough back.  Tax feels relaxed in his frame and forward in his movement.  I even got a "that looks so much better; very good" from the trainer.

Do you know what that means to a h/j trainer?  Toture time is just getting started.  Time to start posting for an hour 3-5 days a week to build up my strength and muscle memory.  Besides it's good for the horse.  Am I regretting all the days I made my sister post without stirrups when we were kids?  Nah...not really.

I watched her other student, Homer's dad canter big slow circles around the arena popping over fences every now and then and was just a little jealous.  I am patient, I am patient, I am patient....breathe.  Can I canter now?  We should be able to start tonight as long as things go well.  I'm also going to ride Promise for my sister because she's out of town.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the results are in!

Tax was incredibly good at his first show.  Our goal was just to get him going quietly around the arena.  Since he's a fairly young OTTB we weren't positive how he would react to all the commotion.  He was practically perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better first show experience.

This is him with his buddy Homer.  The rider is the 15 year old girl who's been taking lessons on him.

We took him in 4 classes.  He and I did the first class of the day a novice walk/trot eq class and I got a second place!  In eq!  And I have to tell you it was a challenge.  There were scary jumps on the sides of the arena and a big mirror on a trailer that they decided to move half way through our class.  I could hear the truck pulling it grinding in the gravel and thought it was going to spook him but I stayed calm and talked to him really low and he just went around the arena very relaxed.  That first class was the best.

Then we did a walk/trot under saddle and got a third.  He realized that the mirror was gone and it kinda weirded him out and then there was a kid playing next to the arena and making a lot of noise and that was kinda scary too.  He didn't spook at all but was a little distracted and kept popping his head up to look.  Over all though, he was really good and the trainer thought he should have done better in the under saddle classes but the judge seemed to really like ponies. 

The other girl who rides him took him in a walk/trot and a canter class and he was very good for her too.  She isn't riding in spurs yet so she had a hard time getting him in a frame.  He's still pretty green but they will get there.  Once her leg is quieter she'll be able to ride in spurs too and I think they'll do great.  They ended up with a 5th and a 6th so he placed in all of his classes. 

One of my goals is to get him filled out a little more. He still looks too skinny in this pic compared to Homer behind him even though he's got a ton of new muscle.  I'm going to talk to the trainer about feeding him some additional hay and supplements to see what we can do. 

I also want the trainer to be able to ride him in a jumping class at the next show which is in mid-July and I'd like to try a canter class.  I can't wait for my lessons this week!

Oh and I did get video if I can figure out how to get it off my phone and onto my blog...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sugar, we're going down

We're preparing for Tax's show this weekend and I had a lesson with his trainer last night.  It went pretty well.  This is the first time I have ridden him in spurs for my lesson and it was good.  I get to do a lot less work and focus on myself because he really listens to my leg.  The jumps on the side of the arena still continue to be VERY SCARY so it was nice to have that extra encouragement.  Especially after I explain this next event...

We were working on trot-walk downward transitions because I'm only riding in a walk/trot under saddle class and we really want to get them solid.  When our trainer asked me to execute our first downward tranisition we were right next to the scary jump so I took a second to prepare; lengthing my leg and tightening it slightly to push him into my hands so he couldn't pull me forward like he likes to do.  Everything was going well so I asked him to slow...and he tripped.  He's a bit of a clutz with those long legs and I have a feeling his attention was still slightly diverted to the said horse eating jump.  The good news was I had remembered to sit back for the transition so when he started scrambling my seat felt secure.  I lengthened my reins just enough to give him his head as he tried to find his balance without throwing him away.  I remember thinking, it's okay, I'm here to help but I don't want to get in the way.  I even managed to keep my spurs out of him as I relaxed back into my seat.  As he scrambled I felt his body start to go down.  All of a sudden I was at least a foot closer to the ground which oddly made me feel a little better.  He scrambled down the line so long I had time to think...oh he's got it, nope I'm pretty sure we're going, he's...  And then we were up and he craned his neck around to check me out as if to say, "woah, mom, what the heck just happened?"  He fought so hard to stay up keep me on his back I never even felt anxious.  How do you not love that? 

I gave him a minute to relax telling him what a good boy he was and scratching his neck.  Walked him over to the trainer to check his legs which were fine.  She said he must have scrambled for at least 12 feet and praised me for sitting back and riding it out.   I loved that it didn't scare me at all because I felt him fight so hard not to hurt us.

Our next time around the arena he was pretty convinced those jumps had something to do with his almost fall.  I could just see it in his eyes.  "Did you see that thing come over here and TRIP me?"  Silly boy.  We got back to a nice relaxed trot.  A couple of more transitions and reverses at the trot and called it a day.  We'll see how it goes tonight.  Never a dull moment!

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Pics of Tax in Training

I finally managed to swipe some pictures of the trainer schooling Tax.  This was actually about a month ago so he looks even better now.  This was his first day working on flying lead changes so he was a bit excited.
Aw, before his haircut even!  He's decided to go all flea-bitten gray this year, but he's still lovely.  He looks like something out of a fairy tale. 

Our first show is June 19th.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  He's hard not to notice next to all the dark bay hunters which will either be good or bad depending on how I ride.