I was sick last week and had to cancel my lesson Monday night, so I was pretty excited for this one. Due to trying to finish up some night classes and the fact the barn is an hour away, my last ride was last Sunday. It was also unfortunately "interesting". I'm the type of person who, if I allow myself, will start to dwell on that and get discouraged. I find it much harder these days to stay positive after a not so positive ride. I think previously, since I rode every day, the "bad" ride was forgotten within a couple of days. Now I have all week to dwell on it and worry about all the things I imagine I'm doing wrong.
Long story short, I was determined not to play mind games with myself today.
And I think it worked!
Ginger was really full of it to start. Her paddock buddy had been taken out for a ride before I got there AND apparently in this part of the world they shoot gophers in the spring. So, missing buddy + random gunfire in the area = Ginger thinking armageddon is near. Apparently she's been really "up" all week though.
We started with a little lesson in lunging. Trainer girl has a very specific way she likes to do it and strongly believes that you lunge them as you would ride them. For example, Ginger is expected to round herself and look for the contact, keep a nice steady tempo, and generally be obedient to what I ask at all times. She is there to do her job, not burn off steam or goof off. We don't use any "gadgets", but she does wear her bridle with the lunge line clipped to the outside bit ring, over her poll, and through the inside ring. This is the way I've always done it, so thankfully at least that was familiar to me. I'm expected to keep a steady contact and support her outside rein, I'm also supposed to "push" her more in a square rather than a circle. The idea is to keep her straight, rather than letting her curl her head inwards and trail her hindquarters to the outside. Ideally I want to keep her just like how you would like to ride her on a circle. Seemed like so much common sense to me, but embarrassingly, nothing I had ever really thought much about.
After my crash course in lunging, I had a nice ride. Just walk trot today, working on our transitions and riding her with the support she needs. This seems a bit counterintuitive to me. She's very hot and spooky, and my default seems to be to want to back off and ride her very lightly and sensitively. As usual, trainer girl was right, and by me adding that extra bit of leg and contact Ginger was happier and went really nicely. There were some amazing moments...I literally have to close my leg a teeny bit and exhale and she walks or halts. I think trot and she trots. I don't know about you, but I've heard it before in lessons, especially for downward transitions - "Just sit deeper! Close your leg!" etc etc and well, I always sort of faked it with a quick grab on the outside rein when the horse inevitably plows through my hand. It was a bit amazing to feel how it should be. Of course after one particularly great transition I had to ruin it by laughing out loud at how wonderful it was and spooking Ginger. Apparently we don't talk or laugh loudly while riding ;)
I still feel like I'm the weak link and desperately need to improve for this horse. Lainey was easy to start and I don't think I appreciated how easy until now. Trainer girl very kindly said I did a wonderful job with Lainey, and to just think of Ginger as my next step up as a rider. We'll both be learning as we go, and that's OK.