Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Supah Stah, Yes That's What You Are

Monday was the warmest day we've seen this year.  Blue skies and 80 degree temperatures!  Against the back drop of lush green trees and grass, the Pacific Northwest is truly gorgeous on days like this.  Unfortunately, this time of year is also hell on wheels for my allergies.  But it's not what you think.  I'm not allergic to the flowers or the trees or the grass.  I'm allergic to indoor dust and dust mites.  So for the next month, while everything dries out and the dust multiplies faster than I can keep up, I fight against feeling crummy.  There's no sneezing, runny nose or itchy eyes for me.  Instead, I get migraine headaches, nausea and my inner ears ring painfully.  I believe they call these 'atypical' allergy symptoms.  Not to be  a downer, but nothing has worked.  I have done almost all forms of Eastern and Western medicine and nothing has changed it, not one tiny bit.

So, yesterday it was this perfect day and the day of my group lesson and I spent most of the day feeling sick.  In my head, I cancelled the lesson a hundred times.  In reality, I kept putting it off.  I get one lesson a week and I did NOT want to miss it.  Finally, I just went ahead and put on my breeches and figured I could always leave if I felt worse when I got there.  I struggled through the twenty minute drive, debating with myself about what I was doing.  But then when I got the barn, my pony nickered at me from her stall and forty minutes later when my lesson started, there was no trace of headache or stomachache.  The barn is truly healing for me in so many ways.

Last night's lesson worked on one thing.  There were four cones on each corner of an approximately twenty meter circle in the middle of the arena.  We started at a walk, making a straight line to each corner.  At the corner, we half halted and used our outside leg to move the hindquarters to the inside.  Keeping our rein aids steady, we then asked them to keep moving and move their forelegs over while still walking.  Tessa was a bit wiggly going to the right and we did quite a bit of weaving in the beginning.  I'd ask her to move her hindquarters and she'd swing her body wildly.  Then we'd correct that swing and she'd swing hard the other way.  But after a few times, she got it.  We then did this exercise at the trot and finally, at the canter.

I'm so proud of how far Tessa and I have come.  We actually began to work on doing a half halt in the canter last night.  A half halt in the canter!  Remember a few months ago when cantering was scary and awful?  Remember when every ride felt like flirting with death?  Not so much anymore.

After our picture perfect lesson, which even included a downward transition that kept forward movement AND contact AND impulsion, I hosed Tessa off.  She wasn't super happy about it, but she didn't poop in the wash rack.  Progress is being made.  Big progress.  I can't wait until next week's lesson.


  1. You guys look great - love the smile!

  2. It's possible to have a horse not poop in the wash rack?

    Sounds like a really good lesson.

    That sounds like a very interesting exercise that you did with the cones. I'm trying to visualize it. So when you reached the cone at the corner you'd push the hind quarters just a step to the inside or more? For just a stride or two? And then shift the aids to moving the forehand in to make the turn? All while maintaining forward movement?

    You know it's all good when you can't wait for the next lesson!

  3. Story- The cones were set up as a square. You ride a step past the cones, so when your horse's middle is even with the cones you ask with the outside leg for the haunches to move over. But keep forward motion. Haunches in on the corner, basically. For just two or three strides, yes. Then ride STRAIGHT to the next cone. And repeat.

    I find that I ride SO MUCH BETTER if I have external things to focus on, like patterns and cones and things. It gets me out of my head and makes me just ride.