|September is beautiful in Nova Scotia|
There is an old cowboy saying that 'wet saddle blankets make good horses'. For the longest time I really believed it and worked hard to ride often and, well not 'hard exactly, but I had to talk myself into a ride that was just a walk or walk/trot because it felt like cheating.
I honestly believed that all and any time in the saddle was time well spent in terms of training.
Then Carmen entered my life and, although I had many a wet saddle pad it didn't seem to lead to the outcome I wanted (a horse that wasn't going to injure or scare me). So then I started to work on important things like focus, understanding and our relationship.
Which was really important and made a huge difference for both of us. But somewhere along the way I had begun to doubt the wisdom of the 'wet saddle pad' theory and dismissed it.
As you know I've started to lesson with Jane and, let me tell you, those lessons are hard. I am working on changing my riding style and being more clear with my aids. Jane is calling me out on my position flaws. She's definitely doing it constructively and I am very appreciative of the detailed feedback. It helps a lot. I'm finding that turning my shoulders to the right is really hard. I think that there's a lot feeding into that. My work set up for one and the fact that I'm left handed definitely means I'm more oriented to the left. Carmen is more left oriented but so is Irish and, while I know that horses also have one sidedness, I think that the common denominator is me. So I'm working on my shoulders turning both while mounted and randomly throughout the day.
Our canter departs and down transitions are so much less 'flail madly' and way more 'balanced and uphill'. In our last lesson we were doing serpentines with a simple change over the center line. Talk about making me stay organized and planful. At first Carmen was 'WTF is this new torture' but then was all 'I got this, look at me'. Then we did a canter across the short diagonal with the aim of doing a counter canter to M but I felt a shift and then we were on the right lead. I brought her back to trot and halt and looked at Jane.
Me: Was that a flying change?!
Jane: *smile* no, she did a single trot step.
As excited as I would have been with a flying change, doing a single trot stride into a new lead also shows how balanced she's becoming. Carmen was all smug you were wrong and so I fixed it. I never get enough credit for that.
|don't worry we get our fun in too|
At the end of our lessons both Carmen and I are sweaty and tired. But it feels good too. For both of us. Which is making me re-evaluate the wet saddle pad hypothesis. I don't think wet saddle pads are, in and of themselves, the making of the horse. I think it's the quality of the work that counts. Like you can be sweaty because you're running from a bear or sweaty at the end of an intense workout. Only one of those scenarios will have you feeling fitter and saying that was awesome!
I've been trying to incorporate this into our rides. We work harder, I ask for more and then we have a break. Carmen is tuning in more and clearly enjoying the work. I'm gaining confidence and even find myself thinking about showing again.
|Seriously, if you ever want to see NS come in September or October|