Sorry for the extra long absence. January kicked my butt with multiple rounds of the flu, inhalers needed to breathe, husband in China, then husband with the flu, then child with more flu, then child with fever and sinus infection. And in there I had two houseguests, one for a week and one for two weeks. Then I had a friends birthday, my husband's big 5-0 is coming up, my little sister's birthday, another friend's birthday, another friend's birthday and Valentine's Day and then Whammo! It's mid-winter break and the kidlet is home from school again. Things will hopefully slow down a bit towards the end of February.
I was able to go to my usual lesson on Monday night. I had ridden the Saturday and Sunday before, but only for about fifteen minutes at a time. I still have some residual stuff in my lungs and it's hard to post the trot while gasping through a coughing fit. Saturday and Sunday I didn't really ask for much with Tessa or with me.
So we're ready to go on Monday and pretty much our whole lesson, we were a hot mess. The pony has developed a massive under neck muscle from holding her head up the wrong way and bracing. Monday night, I was really helping her develop this muscle by bracing right back. She raised her head and I'd raise my hands and tighten everything up. She'd pull against it and I'd give her the iron wall of death with my hands. It was ugly. Real ugly.
I felt kind of defeated after that lesson. I half heartedly asked my trainer about lunging her in side reins to develop the correct muscling in her neck. She laughed at me and said "Your horse will develop the correct muscle when you are riding her correctly and have the connection consistent. It's your job to learn that." Sigh. I knew that, I really did.
The princess got Tuesday and Wednesday off and I went out Thursday morning for an impromptu lesson. There was a lot going on, including a giant truck loading up the manure, the tractor being used, a blower being used on aisleway. I don't normally ride mornings, but it was kind of crazy!
Tessa was hot and spooky. I walked her around, worked her through a few giant spooks and then got on. We walked about five steps. Her head was straight up and I could feel every tense muscle in her body. She was doing that scary, mincing walk that isn't forward and reaching, it's on the edge of explosive. I hopped off and went for the lunge line. It's not worth risking losing my confidence over. A few crazy laps around on the lunge line and she settled down and started moving forward.
Then I got on and had the best lesson of my life. We had multiple laps around the entire arena where she was lifting through her back and actually coming onto the bit. I could feel her in my hands. I worked on keeping my hands steady so she had a place to come into. Tessa was forward and mostly responsive and it was amazing (well, okay, to be fair we still had MAJOR issues with the right lead canter.) and gave me hope. We won't be upside down and bracing and awful forever.