I was all on my own lesson wise last night, so EC suggested she put a training ride on Bridget while I rode her giant eventing machine. Yes, please! Cue excitement.
Shortly followed by "Wait. HE IS GINORMOUS, And we're jumping? I haven't ridden a strange horse in 2 years..." Oh hello, butterflies, I was wondering when you'd fly back into my tummy next...
My barn mates, sensing potential comedy gold, stuck around to watch. And, were rewarded well. We aim to please. On the plus side, I've never had so much fun sucking quite so badly at anything.
The wonder pony is probably pushing 17hh, so it felt weird coming from my 14hh legit pony. Strangely, though, his stride is actually smallish for a large horse so he feels quite a bit like Bridget (who has a giant stride for her size) as far as the basic feel goes. So, I felt at home up there pretty quickly. He is much heavier in the contact, and not so forgiving of me and my too tight elbows - he was quite happy to set his neck and run off with me in a non scary kind of way every time I got into a pulling match. Where it got kind of obvious there was a whole lot of rider error going on was in the canter...I am so used to nagging Bridget along that I'm riding the canter with too much upper thigh and knee. Even though I don't need to use leg on him, my heels still come up as a result of my pinchy knees, my body language encouraging giant pony to race around and drag me further...then when I sit up I am still sitting too light and shifting in the saddle so he collects and obediently does tempi changes...poor pony. I may have even made the saintly boy angry enough for a mini rodeo at one point! A bit of a wake up call for me as far as what I really need to work on. Shoulders back, leg off, butt in the saddle. Nasty habits I've developed - I suspect I am currently a loud rider shouting "GO GO GO!" to Bridget all the time...maybe I should try being quieter and being stricter about having the pony do the work?☺Still, there were moments where it felt amazing, and I was appreciative that EC left me alone for bits of time to figure it out. The buttons are all there and I fumbled my way through collected canter and extended trot...also half passes where I just needed to close my thigh and look, and BOOM, magic.
It was a jumping lesson, but on a horse that large the little 2'6" jumps felt like a non event and were honestly the least of my worries - I struggled more with making nice turns and keeping a good canter. At this point I want more lessons on him in order to fix my bad habits rather than our original plan of jumping bigger and getting more confident over fences! That's obviously still a goal, but maybe an easier one since he'll happily take you to the fences all day long and I suspect 3' on him feels like 2' on B. I'm sidetracked, because oh boy, would I like to able to ride him WELL on the flat!
Since the giant pony is one in a million, he will still be teaching the odd beginner and intermediate lesson even as he gets ready for Rebecca Farm next month. I can't wait until the next time the stars align and I can borrow him for an hour!
|Have I mentioned that I'm going along to Montana? That will be me on the hill watching and beign inspired next month! Photo via RebeccaFarm.org|
Tomorrow, I'll recap how the training ride on Bridget went...also much fun had and much for me to think about there.