"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A little run and jump fixes everything.

My lessons over the 4th of July weekend were disappointing.  Tyler destroyed a fence and wasn't his normal abnormal self.  Because Tyler isn't living on the side of a hill anymore, I'm working very hard to keep him fit.  We're doing lots of trotting and supplying exercises.  It's unbelievable how much the flat terrain changes a horse's fitness.  I'm not saying that was the main concern of last weekend.  I don't like it when the actions and reactions I am used to aren't there. 

Tyler is still a bit hmm, condensed to the right.  At the trot and canter I can feel that he's not quite sure of the feeling.  He hasn't been off, but it is a noticeable difference.  

After three straight days of working flat rides, I was able to take Tyler out to the back field for a lesson with Charles.  AHA!  My horse showed up.  He was bright eyed and bushy tailed.  He moved around the field like I've never felt before.  Tyler was strong and confident.  He cantered down the one (and maybe only) hill without hesitation.  We started over a simple log, trotting back and forth.  Then we added a nice log oxer to the line and Tyler was superb!  I was a smiling fool.  

Charles said I have a secure position for cross country (let's not show him the Plantation photos).  That was a big compliment.  Charles was also happy with Tyler's strategy towards fences.  We decided to move through the usual trouble making obstacles for the lesson.

Tyler did the step up, it's not quite a bank, with no problem.  We had to do a lot of half-halt work the entire lesson.  As Sally has taught me, I have to get the correct canter for Tyler to jump from.  This requires a half-halt, or four, at the right time.  Tyler likes to canter a few strides before the step up and it was the right opportunity for me to learn when to half-halt for balance, but still send Tyler forward.

The step down was no problem.  I was able to ride it without getting in Tyler's way on landing.  We went up and down the step quite a few times to practice keeping to the base and eyes up.

The ditch was comical.  It's more like a Plantation ditch on the BN course, a dent in the ground.  The logs on either side can roll to adjust width.  Charles told us to canter to it as he didn't think Tyler wouldn't have enough oomph from the trot to clear the ditch.  I had to laugh because that's so true!  Charles set a cone about 4 strides out on either side to mark where I needed to have a last good half-halt to set Tyler up.  It worked so well.  The checks put enough Tyler in the right balance but I was still able to keep a correct forward motion.  As the set up improved, Tyler's jumps improved. 

We moved on to a stone wall with I'm not sure Tyler even noticed.  Lastly, Charles set up a 9 fence course to run.  It was AWESOME!  It's those two minutes that remind me how much what riding means to me and how I can't imagine do anything else.  Tyler was spot on and made me giggle when I realized how happy he was after the lesson.

Today's lesson was inside due to the 2 inches of rain from last night.  We rode with Kim and Parker.  Again, Tyler was great!  He had Saturday off and felt strong today.  We worked on getting a 6 or 7 stride line as the rider determined.  We also focused on the rider keeping eyes up.  Eyes up - heels down.  Eyes down - heels up.  Tyler was very rateable today and I appreciated that.  We had a few lines that were a forward 4 or 6 and sometimes I had to take a collected 5 or 7 to make sure that we got the right distance for us.   I was proud of Tyler for taking the oxer and vertical one stride off a tight turn without hesitation.  Again, I was thrilled with how well we worked through the lesson.

I had a very proud owner moment when Charles came down to Tyler's stall and dropped off carrots for him.  Charles said that Tyler is a good egg.  Tyler is a good egg and he reminded me of that this weekend.  

Sometimes Tyler has to pull me out of a slump.  When he does, he puts me on cloud nine.

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