Sunday it was drizzling. A kind of misty, depressing rain. However, it was ridiculously warm for November. Thankfully, I was wearing layers. Off came the down vest, off came the sweatshirt. Just a short sleeved t-shirt and breeches! My poor, hairy pony worked up a sweat pretty quickly.
In the arena, I struggled with contact. Since I have very busy hands that like to try to put the pony's head where I want it, I focus a lot on NOT doing that. My backup plan to my busy hands is my shoving, busy body and I'm trying not to do that either. Which means we spent a lot of time circling around with Tessa above the bit, bracing on the bit, running out of the outside rein (did I mention I also let my reins slide through my fingers. I've resorted to holding on to the grab strap with my hand and rein to keep that outside rein steady. It works sometimes, but then I have to be careful about bracing my entire arm against the grab strap.). Tessa was wiggly and very braced.
I worked on keeping her forward and allowing her to come in to the contact. I had a good amount of forward, but the contact was pretty awful. After we did some cantering, we did have some nice moments but for the most part it wasn't a good looking ride. I reminded myself that in the training process, when you're learning new skills, it's normal for the rest of the skills to fall apart temporarily. But if I keep at it, there will be that one day where I will suddenly realize that I'm not fiddling with my hands or shoving with my seat and that my horse is going forward into contact. I'm learning patience at a whole new level.
By the time I was done with my ride, the drizzle had stopped. I had plans to go outside of the gate so I took some deep breaths and walked Tessa over. It took us a while to get close to the scary gate, but we got there. First I walked her through it a few times. Then I got on and walked her through it a few times. Then we started down the driveway. Step. By. Step. She would take a trembling step and stop, neck high and tense, ears pricked. I would ask her to go forward and if she didn't, I would turn her head and we would take a side step. We inched our way abut 1/4 down the long drive, then turned around and went home. Then we did that again. And again. And again. I was so proud of Tessa and so proud of myself.
At one point, another boarder decided to take her horse out on a short ride and asked me if I'd like to tag along. I said I'd follow her down the driveway and see how it went. Tessa followed her horse like a champ, marching right along with him. She appreciated having another horse in front of her. We rode all the way down the long drive to the paved road. At that point, I opted out since I was already nervous and didn't want to have to feel even more nervous about the pavement aspect of things. I turned my pony around and we headed back. Tessa was more nervous going back and I could feel her body tense up. But she knew she was going home, so she plodded along turning her head this way and that.
Pony got lots of carrots and love and another tail washing. I had to cancel my Monday night lesson because my daughter was up puking last night, but Tuesday is jump day. I'm doing it people. I'm really doing it.