I had a great lesson on Thursday with the pony. I asked my trainer to give me some help on my warm ups. Currently my warm ups look something like this:
Tessa looks around like a llama while I wiggle in the saddle and take deep breaths. After a few laps, we go ahead and pick up the trot which also resembles the above pictures. Then we have a struggle over forward, while I alternate throwing the reins away (maybe I'm pulling too hard on her face! We should be just warming up on a loose rein!) or holding her face with an iron grip (we're working here! You WILL submit!).
If I have a lesson, this is usually the start of having to work through some 'issues'. In my head the issues are that my horse won't go forward and lift her back and stay on the bit. In Tessa's head, the issues are what the hell is wrong with my rider? What is even happening? Quit giving me conflicting cues already!
So, with some guidance we have made some changes.
L showed me how to keep contact on a really long rein, without it being loose. Tessa is so easily distracted that a totally loose rein is just an invitation to gawk at things outside the arena. So, we started with a nice walk and working on bending just a little and going into the contact and the outside rein.
From there, we moved into a trot, still with the long reins but asking Tessa to come into them. It was amazing how quickly she shifted into a lovely trot since she was already using those muscles in the walk. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes, we slowly shortened the reins while keeping the contact the same. Then I focused on keeping the contact even in both reins for the whole circle.
For me, this part was like scratching my head and rubbing my belly. I would get it, then I'd lose it. Then I'd get it. Then I would catch myself sticking my tongue out of the corner of my mouth with concentration. I'm sure that was pretty. But maybe nobody would notice my tongue because my pony looked so pretty!
We moved up in to the canter, where things were a bit more complicated but we still had some good work. Going to the right continues to be an issue an we had to have a little discussion about it. After a five minute argument about bucking and kicking out and staying in the working frame, we did have a nice canter that way.
I do hate that we seem to have to get into a shoving match before she feels like she can listen to me. I don't want to always have to have a battle in every ride, even if it's a minor one!
Sunday, I went out for a ride and used our long and low warm up. It was brilliant. Amazing. Perfect. All the way until we got to the right lead canter where she threw a hissy fit. I'm not as confident working her through a fit going to the right because I can't always tell when she picks up the correct lead, so we ended up turning around and cantering to the left again. Besides that, it was a wonderful ride.
Also, I gave some more thought to the truck and trailer thing and even priced some options out. But then I realized that I don't have time to trailer my horse places. Maybe I could do that one day a week if I'm lucky, but my horse time is a precious three hours (one hour of which is commuting time) squished in between work and husband and child. There's no way I could hitch up a truck and trailer, take the pony somewhere and come back and unhitch in only two hours. Even if I was streamlined, it would still take me twenty minutes to get everything up and loaded, and then twenty minutes to my destination and then I'd have ten minutes to ride. Ha! Nope, doesn't work. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Thanks for putting up with my persistent questions over and over and over and over. One of these days, I'll come up with the *right* question and the answer will make sense.
In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the crap out of my pony.