Despite my Sunday lesson having to be cancelled due to icy roads, I was able to reschedule for Wednesday since we are on school vacation! Ellie was MUCH better this time about arriving at a new farm and after only a few moments of looking around with wide eyes and a small bit of walking around the barnyard as I chatted with the barn owner, I was able to tie her right up and get her brushed and tacked up.
I got to the indoor about 15 minutes before my lesson was to start and she was so calm on the lunge line that I got on within ten minutes. Just as I got on, another rider came into the ring, who was only planning to ride for about ten minutes. Normally I would expect Ellie to not care, as she is generally calm about horses in the ring with her, but for some reason she was obsessed with this horse. Like every time the other horse got close to her, she started to jig and swing her haunches around, almost as if she wanted to go meet this other mare. This was a new one for me with Ellie, so apparently she wants to make sure I am on my toes. I almost threw her back on the lunge, but had this been a show situation, I would have had to ride her through it, so I just sucked it up. I don't want to baby her and she needs to get this experience now in order to make her into reliable and sensible horse eventually haha.
|All media is completely unrelated, but at least we have improved the whole sn*w thing|
Ellie still wasn't ready to start listening to my aids and the trot was kind of crappy. Opening inside rein, inside leg, steady outside rein, and some spiraling in and out on the 20 m. circle and she FINALLY figured she would accept my input haha. She started swinging more in the trot and settling into the contact. I was impressed that really it didn't take THAT long to get her settled, though at first I was like OH GREAT this ought to be a fun lesson. Instead of having to spend tons of time working with a tense horse, she went to work and we were able to accomplish something.
Beth had me work on transitions within the trot, which was excellent for Ellie. She is becoming smart and sensitive enough to my aids, so she was willing to step right into a fairly balanced medium trot from her working trot and then would come back to what Beth called "almost a jog trot" since we are not really looking for a collected trot yet, of course. It is nice to see she is going to have adjustability despite her size. It was also really cool to feel her engage her hind end to sit into the smaller trot, and I had to laugh when Beth said, "YES! That is going to be a passage someday!" Hahaha I had told her my goal is Second level someday and she is already like oh we'll get her to FEI. I do like that she sees potential in my horse, but I am way too practical right now lol. I'm in the mindset of let's get her going walk/trot/canter for a Training level test, so it makes me giggle and feel slightly terrified when Beth says nice things about her haha.
We took a few walk breaks and Beth commented on the huge improvement in her walk since the first lesson. I worked hard all this past week with that walk and I thought we had made progress! Ellie was really happy to reach into a free walk after working within the trot and I like that she is confident enough in the contact to do so.
|Hacking in the field|
Our third lesson was this morning, a beautifully sunny spring Saturday (FINALLY!). Ellie was still a little excited when we arrived but nothing at all like she has been. I love that she is adapting to being a grown up horse who can travel somewhere new without losing her marbles! She's been great about loading, trailering in general, and stepping down instead of launching herself off the step up haha, and beyond the training we are getting from lessons, just the act of taking her out and about is helping her grow up.
We worked a bit on transitions within the trot again as well as the canter. This time I got my act together and we actually got the right lead each time I asked, so that's a plus haha. Beth reminded me today that it is OK for me to start asking for more from Ellie and that is she really not a baby. That is good for me to hear, because sometimes I think I give her too much leeway. For example, we might be trotting along on the circle and Ellie goes OH LOOK OVER THERE! and throws her head up. I tend to be too subtle in correcting her, almost like I am thinking ohhhhh it's ok, here can you please maybe sorta stay connected and stay bent around my inside leg please? Beth encouraged me to be more direct with my aids, not to force her into a frame or anything, of course, but to expect more out of her. I just need to be more forward thinking, so I really focused on keeping my inside leg on her and using my opening rein in a little more proactive way instead of reactive after she's already trotted five steps with her head flung up to look at something. It made sense, because as soon as I started assuming and anticipating I would need to correct her, my timing was better and she didn't get a chance to lift her head and avoid contact. We got some really lovely trot work that I was so happy with!
Ellie even kept her brain intact when an upper level horse/rider came into the indoor and started doing extended trot, passage, and canter four tempis (with some naughty bouncing around in the meantime). It was perfect because the rider was only there for 20 mins but it allowed Ellie to have the experience of a horse coming in, doing weird things she wanted to watch (instead of paying attention to me), and then leaving her. Besides being interested and wanting to look, Ellie really didn't put a hoof out of place.
A few things to work on right now: softening my left rein when it is the outside rein and more prompt canter transitions. Beth complimented my outside rein in both directions, but said I tend to slightly "hold" the left outside rein too much at times. So, for example, let's say we are trotting right and Ellie goes to look at something, so I use my opening right rein. She comes back down into the contact, but is just restricted enough by my left rein that I am almost not quite allowing her to fully bend right. I don't need to even move my outside left rein, just relax the elbow (it's that subtle) and she bends and accepts the bit. Once I started paying attention to this, she went along SO MUCH better! It is amazing how a small tweak can improve the horse so much. THIS is why I am taking lessons, because while I feel confident to ride and train her on my own, I also know I need someone to help me develop this horse.
And while Ellie obviously isn't confirmed yet in the canter transition because she isn't completely aware of the aids yet, she was totally blowing me off today to canter. She understands a kiss noise on the lunge line means to canter, so I still have been using my voice as well as my leg/seat aids. But as Beth reminded me, it really shouldn't still take half a circle for her to canter. It sucks because there is waaaay too much mud right now (big surprise) in the area that is flat and large enough to canter here at home, so I have not been working her in the canter at all (it has been since last fall!) besides the three lessons we have had this spring haha. So I cannot complain, since I know this is just where she is at right now, but I feel as though if I could canter her here at home, we'd be further along. PATIENCE is not my best virtue haha.
Still no media from lessons because all the barn kids were turning out horses and mucking stalls and the other three adults around were either riding or giving lessons in the outdoor. :-( I have the worst time asking people for favors. I seriously need a preteen child who loves horses and wants to come along to lessons and shows with me to take photos and videos hahahaha.
|This is me and why I have no riding lesson media|