Thursday, January 14, 2010
Eureka Via Instructa
I have been missing in action for a while. Probably because all of the action hasn't happened at once thank goodness, but more rather over the course of the past week or so, but it all came to a climax today.
Greta and have been trudging onwards with our goals of trying to get in frame correctly, staying round, and building a topline for the past few weeks. Three days ago, the weather changed and so did Greta's outlook on riding. It was very exciting now! Everything in the arena was new and she had to veer her head towards all of it and sometimes veer away from it entirely. She trotted around with her head hiked up in the air like she had back pain, though I felt her back and she wasn't sore.
So yesterday, I tried to see if I could calm the goofy girl's nerves by lunging her first. And that was what produced the above video. She was very "meh" about walking and trotting, but cantering? I let her canter? I am her new best friend! Her enthusiasm for energy made me chuckle. Periodically she made one of those cute little bucks like you saw in the video. I was also worried at the same time because of the pace she was going and at such a sharp angle. I told her to whoa after three times around the round pen, but she wanted to go, go, go, and I she was fine afterwards. So I figured if there was ONE thing I could let her get away with today, it was letting her get some energy out. And for me to get some chuckles out as well :)
She was still a bit difficult for the ride, perhaps because now I REALLY had her riled up!
Tonight we had a lesson. This was our first group lesson (if you count having one other rider as a group) and I found I liked it so much better! It made me feel like I wasn't the only frustrated noob on our trainer's team, which is easy for me to feel seeing all of her other students chugging around their lessons beautifully. Greta was hiking her head up again every time I tried to pick up contact, and the other rider's horse was trying to pull the reins out of her hands! So as you can imagine, veins began to pulse and tension began to rise. I don't know about the other rider's horse, but Greta was definitely sensing mine. She speed up her trot into something that would make a Standardbred jealous, my first reaction (and shame on me for this!) was to pull on the reins to try and slow her down, but still kept my posting as fast as her pace. I pulled, tension, she sped up, tension, and so on. All the while the instructor is telling me to "relax and slow my posting! Give her her head" Between Greta's off-to-the-races act and the other horse's "I'll lower my poll, but I'll do it the way I want to do it" and proceed to tug at the reins, it was a mess. I finally manage to bring Greta down to a walk and we joined the other rider in the center of the arena upon our trainer's beckoning.
There was to be received "the speech":
"First of all, calm down. You're doing fine. This is all a part of the process." Dressage is NOT easy. It looks easy at the lower levels, and it's frustrating to see and read how easy it seems, but it is not. It takes patience, and not just for the rider to look good. It is a team effort. Both horse and rider need to take some time and patience to learn each other, build the muscles to perform movements correctly, and to just plain trial-and-error some problems out. It is frustrating to see the other students in their lessons looking awesome while we feel ridiculous (my words) because we can't even get our horses to get in frame, much less listen! It is a process, and she is there to guide us riding-wise, but we're going to have to do most of it on our own by finding the bond with our horse, which takes time!
There was more, but that is essentially what I got out of it. I felt very bad for all the times I got frustrated because we didn't look perfect. We do have good moments, and lots of them lately, but it won't come in a bulk package! It reminded me of drawing a picture. It'll be little things here and there and in the end they'll make something gorgeous. I was very happy that my trainer had that little speech with us. I have GOT to try my hardest to keep it to heart. No, I WILL keep it to heart, hands, seat, and mind. For Greta's sake.
And then to conclude the lesson we cantered our horses around the arena to let them get some energy out, even if it didn't look pretty, which we both expected it wouldn't. The other riders had started warming up, so they were asked into the center of the arena. The other rider in my lessons chose to stay in the center as well. So, it was off to the races for about four laps, no bucking or being silly (she knew I was in the saddle) just a smooth near-gallop with very gentle turns that resembled a bad showjumping pair. But this time I wasn't worry about how icky we looked. We were getting some pent-up energy out. I was grinning the whole time. And I can guarantee Greta liked it too.