Even if it's very, very humbling at times. Audrey was reserve champion at 4th level at a fairly serious show this past weekend. 24 hours later, I spent 30 minutes learning how to get Audrey properly round. Oh my :)
In my defense, she's a lot like Bridget in that there's a fine balance between llama, and faking by hiding behind the leg/bit. Also, she's very wiggly like Bridget. The feel is actually scary similar.
|This post brought to you by recycled media. This is the pair of them a couple of years ago.|
Actually, never mind my excuses. They're null and void, because if anything, her similarity to Bridget should mean I have lots of practice and should have a way better handle on riding her effectively. Sigh.
In all honesty, if you were watching my lesson, you'd probably be like "What a lovely, fancy horse packing that lady around. That horse is far too nice for this level of lesson rider!"
And, those thoughts would be true :) What you probably wouldn't see is the confidence I am gaining each week, that there are substantial improvements being made quite rapidly, and that my learning is increasing exponentially. We had some nice moments this week, moments where I felt just how active her hind end needs to be, how round in her body, and how much feel I should have in my hands as she takes me along and carries herself as we transition forward and back.
The amount of power and how quick she is was quite frankly a bit intimidating when I started back on her last month, as was the mare drama of hopping around and sucking back and kicking at my leg when she wants to hide behind the contact. I'm getting much more confident about pushing her through it and less shy about being firm in my corrections.
I have hope that at some point in this journey, my timing and feel (and fitness) will be such that I can ride Audrey well enough to learn some more advanced concepts (I've had a tiny taste of passage and a few steps of canter pirouttes and I want more!). But let's face it, you can't skip working on the foundations of the training pyramid no matter where you or your horse is at, and figuring out a new horse is a good puzzle for me.
|Throwback to Bridget's Animal Spirit Training Pyramid|
- fitness (my own, it sucks). I'm back hitting the gym, hiking and doing yoga consistently and am like "why did I stop, I love this!?" Argh, no point beating myself up about it now, I guess. I'm moving forward, and I'm just glad I'm making it a priority again.
-lunging Bridget in side reins to help get her fitness back up too.
|Pony yoga vacay is over, Bridget|
- Bridget needs to carry herself (my riding Audrey is making it apparent how much extra work I think I need to do)
-Establish everything I am looking for in walk, first and insist nothing changes as I move up to trot or canter. Walk is hardest for the horse to practice carrying themselves as far as balance (like yoga, harder because you are balancing and moving individual body parts without momentum to help), easiest for the rider because you have lots of time to influence between footfalls.
-focus on never holding (hands, legs, or seat) on Bridget. We've got a dynamic where I ask, she often ignores/procrastinates, and I end up holding my aids on until she responds...which of course makes her duller and annoys the crap out of every other horse I ride. Audrey has quickly tuned me up, but I need to carry that through to Bridget and be consistent on her, too.
I miss having a dedicated training plan with Bridget. I miss having a show season. BUT, I do feel like moving on from her as far as further dressage progress is the right decision for me. As you can see, I'll keep picking away at things, but there's no more pressure to do all the things on her. Even though it's probably the right thing to do, I'm sad and feeling a bit lost to be honest.
|Canada Cup was a year ago already and I was so excited to go back.|
However, focusing on learning as a rider is a good thing. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to continue learning on Audrey, and for my coach's unwavering support of my goals.