Yesterday was another mild day, with a high of 55! It's been raining for about a week, which is causing chaos with my allergies, but I much prefer this weather to the bitter cold and mounds of snow we usually suffer with in Michigan.
This lesson was like an early Christmas present! I was M's last student, and D showed up during my lesson, so I was able to ride three horses! Wildchild, Blondie, and Woody. They are determined to get my past this cantering hurdle that I have stumbled across.
I really like Wildchild, and she's really fun to ride. If only I wasn't quite so terrified cantering her. Some kids from the previous lesson were hanging around, so M was describing the differences between hunt seat and saddle seat, and she told them that Wildchild is the toughest lesson horse in the barn because all she wants to do is go. Yup, that about sums it up.
While I was struggling not to fall off Wildchild, D brought Blondie out. He had five horses to work and he started with my girl. When I was walking Wildchild out, he told me to hop on Blondie and canter her a few times. When she does pick up the canter for me, she's a lot easier to sit than Wildchild. My challenge with Blondie is actually getting her to do it.
She stepped right in the canter when I asked (due in part, no doubt, from D cracking her a$$ when she refused at his request). She has a nice smooth canter, especially after riding the runaway freight train called Wildchild.
Both of the horses were soaking wet when we took them back to their stalls. Since I had no plans for the evening, I didn't rush off, and we chatted about the upcoming holidays and whatever else came to mind. D started getting Woody ready, and I decided to stay and watch him work the horse.
While D was warming Woody up, I brushed the still damp Wildchild, and at M's instruction, but her blanket back on. It's so warm I doubt that they need them, but with our stupid weather, who knows when we'll have a 50 degree temperate change.
In the arena, M & D were discussing Woody's back end. He's starting to get arthritis, and they're not sure how much longer he'll be able to compete. Then D demonstrated how to cue Woody to canter. He cantered him in circles and figure 8's, and when the horse was dripping with sweat, he told me to hop on him.
Ok, this was another wild ride. I was able to get the horse to canter, but then I couldn't steer! He kept going in circles, at one point leaping over the mounting block. Good thing I took that jumping lesson! Anyway, I asked what the hell was going on, and D told me it was the draw reins. A lot of people have problems riding with them, because they make the hand cues very strong, and because I'm right handed, I was pulling him to the right. I think this is also why I couldn't get Blondie to ride the corners.
After watching me struggle to get him to canter correctly, D dropped my stirrups 2 holes. I am turning my feet out when I ask for the canter, and then gripping with both legs, which makes the horse go faster. D thinks that with the longer stirrups, I won't grip with my lower leg as much. He had me trot a pass, to make sure I could still post and of course, the first time I asked, Woody took of in a canter. After running him into the wall, I asked for the trot again, with a gentler cue, and took off trotting. It's a lot harder! posting with the longer stirrups. D said it will take a while to get used to them (I post off my stirrups, and can't with them that far down), but he thinks it will help.
By this time, I was exhausted from all of the adrenaline rushing through my body, so decided it was time to leave. I had no trouble falling asleep last night!!