I didn't sleep super well on friday. It wasn't awful either but I woke up feeling a bit groggy (it couldn't possibly be the wine....I'm sure!). I fed and cleaned the horses' stalls and then turned them out for a bit in the small paddock beside the arean. I love that about Karen's- the horses can go out and stretch their legs. For Irish moving around is critical- he's very stiff in the mornings. Also, since both of them are used to 10-12 hours of turn out it's good for their mental health.
We weren't riding until 11 so we could watch some of the other
- Sue adjusted her lesson to suit the rider and horse team. There were definitely common themes but each lesson was different (even between the days).
- Humour was a key part of her teaching but never at the rider's expense.
- It was hard for her to stay on time because she wants the horse/rider to get it.
- consistent with above she was very tenacious. She would stop you if necessary to help you understand. Sometimes you dismount and do ground exercises and then get back on.
- Sue was very hands-on- she used her body and hands to help you figure out where you legs and arms and backs and pelvis needed to be
- She did not get frustrated repeating things over and over. It seemed to me that she recongized that new learning takes practice and that it's not easy- especially when seated on animal with a mind of her own.
- Sue invited dialogue. She loved to explain the whys and wherefores. She welcomed discussion but if she thought you were 'overthinking' she would call you on it. I was very grateful that a friend rode first because she and I both tend to do that. I was able to learn from her doing it....
Before I rode I brought Carmen in and spent some time with her int he stall braiding her mane. I find that this quiet task is a great way for me to center and get us in harmony. It requires just enough focus so that I don't spiral into the 'what if vortex' but not so much that it's stressful. I sometimes do it while waiting for Royce to come.
When it was our turn (Cynthia and I did a semi-private lesson) I mounted and took a deep breath. The idea was to ride back to front and think about riding the hind legs. The front legs take care of themselves. We also were to keep the necks centred over the whither to help the horse be straight. It reminded me of Royce who always says keep the horse's body under you and the bend will take care of itself. For transitions we are to prepare, prepare, and ask. So that the horse is ready and looking to do it.
As we would walk by the far end door, Carmen would suck back and think about ducking in, I could bring my hands back and Sue would tell me to ride her forward. I can't tell you how many times she told me that, but it was a lot. But she never lost patience. It wasn't that I wasn't listening. I was listening, but my body was reacting because when I lose the front end of Carmen bad things can happen (like spinnign and bolting). So while I was telling my hands to give they were saying screw you, we want to LIVE! I think Sue must be used to that. But when we got it- wow:
When we started to trot she let us go for a bit and then brought us into the center and adjusted my saddle. Sue used sponges up under the flap by the pommel to help keep me back and used the straps for full cheek snaffles to move the saddle leathers a bit forward. She called it the $3 saddle adjustment. THat really helped. I still needed reminders to bend my knees under (I tend to put my legs straight and forward, proably from trying to be the perfect dressage rider and in self-defense).
Here's a video of our initial trot work:
Ugh, I'm stiff and tight and we are not a great example. I kept trying to sort it out and listen to Sue and then finally it began to fall into place:
Still lots to correct with me (especially my hands- I need to CUT THEM OFF) but look at her flow. It felt effortless and comfortable. It seemed that I only had to think of chaning direction or doing a circle and it just happened. Look at her ears- totally tuned in.
When I dismounted I realized how hot I was. I hosed Carmen off and then spent some time just putzng around the barn by myself. I wanted to let the lesson sink in before it was over run by lunch time chatting. I can't really process things when I'm talking- only when I'm quiet.
After lunch we had a lecture on the spinning ball at our core and how to use our core to stabilize and work with our horse rather then pull. We practiced on each other and it was fun and informative. There were lots of giggles.
After that there were more lessons. I finally had to leave. My brain was overflowing and I could no longer take in more info. I went and fell into the pool and let the quiet work on my brain. Karen and Cnythia joined me in the pool and we then had a multi-course meal cooked by Jim. It was unbeliavably good. I found out that like sardines. Who knew?
That night I had no trouble sleeping at all.