Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Riding in a Group

I was so nervous before my lesson last night that I was practically shaking.  There were five horses in the arena when I arrived.  I asked them to please clear out because I was going to ride, but nobody listened.  Well, Laura heard me and laughed at me.  Does that count?  Then I tried to convince everyone to turn around for ten minutes while I fumbled my way through the mounting process.  Okay, not really.  But I wanted to.  The nice thing about private morning lessons are that there isn't anyone there to see that my horse no longer stands at the mounting block.  And it's become her favorite game to wait until I'm up on the block and then step away or walk around it.

My adrenaline was so high that I couldn't get Tess to even resemble standing still at the mounting block.  I asked Linda to help and she came over and held her while I got on.  Okay, I'm ready now.  The arena cleared out to just me and the two other girls I was riding with.  One on pretty grey mare who didn't like other horses and the other on a shiny bay gelding.  We started the lesson by walking and asking our horses to tip their noses to the inside and then the outside while maintaining their rhythm.  Then we trotted a bit to loosen up muscles.  We were then asked to do a 15 meter circle in the center and work on asking our horses to move their hindquarters away from our legs.  I don't know how the other ladies fared but we definitely had a shoulder bulging issue.  I finally got a few steps of turn on the forehand and praised Tessa.  Tessa thinks that if you tell her 'good girl', what you really mean is 'okay, we're done'.  I need to change that expectation.

We then moved into trot with the same exercise.  We did alright, but had a few crabby moments.  We came back down to the walk and worked on getting her OFF MY LEG.  Then I asked her for trot again and she stopped and threatened.  Then she kicked out, once, twice and finally a GIANT kick out and a sluggish, pent up trot.  It wasn't our finest moment.  The girl on the bay grinned at me as we went by.  "Wow, she can really get her hind end up there."  The kick on the video yesterday was nothing compared to last night's temper tantrum.

However, we survived.  And we even went on to canter.  In a group lesson.  Yeah!

I learned a few things last night about group lessons and me.

1.  Steering becomes much more important.
2.  Forward becomes much more important because you can't steer a cantering horse in a 15 meter circle to avoid a wreck if you don't have forward.
3.  Harder than cantering a 15 meter circle is trying to canter said circle and having pony drop into a head straight up in the air out of control trot.
4.  Group lessons are an hour and 15 minutes where privates are only 45 minutes.
5.  You spend more time trotting and cantering and working because sometimes she's said 'Canter' but she's not even going to look at you for ten more minutes.
6.  I am still embarrassed about my pony's mounting block skills.  I must work on this immediately.

Self portraits are hard when the pony's head is so much bigger than mine!
It will be nice to get to know some other people at the barn so I'm looking forward to that.  This weekend is a barn work party to work on fixing the arena footing.  I'll try and post about that later.


  1. G does that very same thing at the mounting block it makes me crazy what i do is have him in between the mounting block and the wall in a tight space that he hates so he cant move his but out to the side or side step the mounting block. I ride by myself so we have to tackle the mounting issue as well, we do circles or i will make him stand there with me sitting on the mounting block until he gets bored of being a pain and lets me get on with minimal drama. lol Good luck!! Riding in a full arena definatly teaches you to multi task and really emphasizes having control of your horse!

  2. I like riding in a full arena because it makes me actually look where I'm going! Imperative since all of the other riders are still looking down at their horses necks lol.

    I'm totally with you on the getting to know other people at the barn. I'm almost always at the barn when nobody else is around so after a year I still don't even know half of the horses names and sure don't recognize any of the owners. And as a horse obsessed woman, what better than to have other horse obsessed women to talk at about my horse!