Monday, September 13, 2010

On the 8th Day.. She Rested

As I was driving to work this morning, I spent my commute digesting my day at the barn yesterday... Thinking about how even though P had some big hissy fits, I left the barn feeling invigorated, excited and extremely in tune with her.  I give the girl some serious credit for working seven full (hard) days in a row, so today she gets a much deserved day off to doze, and relax and eat, eat, eat.

I started a habit when I first began to take lessons of replaying the entire lesson in my head the day after my ride.  Initially, I think this stemmed from an intense desire to stretch out the enjoyment of my coveted weekly lesson, but as I got older, and my riding theoretically better, it turned into a really productive learning tool for me. 

I've been told that I take direction well (I'm snotty, bratty, and usually stubborn, but if a coach or teacher or trainer says something, I rarely argue..) but often its hard to fully absorb all of the comments as they come flying at me.  Usually it takes some casual daydreaming to think back to our exercises and what felt good (or bad) and what adjustments I made (or didn't) before I totally process what our takeaway was. During my ride its all I can do to be making the adjustments, feeling the difference, then making more adjustments. Especially right now, when I'm fighting a serious loss of muscle memory in addition to still getting used to Miss Pia.  (she's still "new" in my head).

Right now there is so much to work on that its somewhat overwhelming.  But some of my top priorities are...

Getting my equitation and balance back:  Right now my elbows are out, my shoulders are slouchy, I drop my inside hip and shoulder all to easily and my jammed down heels and turned out toe are ready for me to take on a hunter course, but don't exactly resemble the long, relaxed soft dressage leg of DQ's everywhere...

Getting P straight: Right now I seem to be capable of either getting her straight, or me straight.  As soon as I even out my weight and pay attention to me, she manages to pop her butt off the rail, or pop her shoulder, or blow through my outside aids, or something... and when I get her straight, I turn into a gnarled, slouchy mess.  All I can say is thank god for mirrors and trainers who don't mind repeating themselves constantly.

Anyway, as I was driving to work I was replaying our lesson, and thinking about the really good positive moments we had, and how even though she threw her biggest bucks with me in months, I felt more in control and more confident on her than ever.  It finally feels like we're working hard enough and trying new things often enough that we're progressing.  Things are far from perfect, but it's awesome just to be attacking new exercises and having those breakthrough moments where P figures out the answers to new questions.  It's been a long time since I've worked with the same horse long enough to really feel that connection and enjoy the small successes that come with every ride.

I guess maybe that's what I felt so relaxed and calm after our ride yesterday.  Well, that and the fact that after all of our canter work (figure-8's, leg yields - kinda), P was so pooped that we just lazed through untacking, taking a bath, grazing, and going for our neighborhood stroll.... it was a great wind down.

Also, I don't think I mentioned it yesterday, but Saturday we had a barn party, which obviously included copious amounts of wine and cheese... (perfection)  There are three fairly new boarders to the barn, so I really enjoyed the opportuity to chat and sit down with everyone and swap war stories/hear how we all ended up at the same facility without anyone darting in and out of the tackroom/feedroom/arena/etc.  For all the time we spend at the barn and chat with our fellow boarders, it's rare that I fine myself in a conversation for more than 10 minutes with any one person.  In retrospect I guess that chance to socialize and get to know everyone is also boosting my sense of calm and happiness. 

After our wine/cheese fest 5 of us ended up in the ring at the same time, and for once, I wasn't self conscious about my ride at all.  Folks were zipping around in big, pretty trots (weird, I guess not every mare throws hissy fits..), one lady was hand walking her old schoolmaster and I was pleased as punch to be flinging around on Miss P just attempting to find a regular tempo and a semblance of a relaxed back..

Long story short. I'm enjoying the process of digesting my lessons instead of vet calls, and P more than deserves her day off today.  I'm lucky enough to get lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday this week.. which means that I'll have plenty to be thinking bout as I sit in traffic on the bridge as I perpetually cross the lake...

Good Mare...

Photo credits to Super-Mom.  I'm love, love, loving all of the shots she got last week...

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