Friday, 19 February 2016

Just Do Nothing

 I'm getting a little stressy about how quickly show season is approaching. Just when I feel like we're close to being prepared, trainer mentions moving up a division. Cue further stress!
Daffodils are blooming already! Spring show season is coming!
Since I like to feel prepared (and Ginger is on full lease so I have a few spare horsey $), I'm back to two lessons per week - 1 jumping, 1 flat/dressage. Tonight was dressage night, and for the first time in just about forever, we had lesson buddies. Yay! 

Bridget was not nearly as pleased about that as me and spent the first half hour or so being downright rude and naughty, trying to follow/gravitate towards the other horses but then getting all bitchy if they actually got near. Ginger was there too and Midge was like "Hey T! Ginger is here! Hi Ginger! T YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME GINGER IS HERE. GINGER IS AMAZING AND WE NEED TO ADMIRE HER."

Our attempts at soft and round were more "angry and distracted giraffe". The joys of a mare in heat. My attempts to get her between my aids were a big fat fail and there was much pony drama.
EC's words of wisdom? Back to the walk, remind naughty Midget she needs to put her body where I ask (the dreaded spiral exercise again). Then this: "Bridget has come a long way in the last bit. She's starting to be halfway trained. Let her know your expectations, then just sit quietly and try to do as little as possible. Think about doing nothing. Carry your hands, relax your legs, let her carry you. Correct her in the moment you need to, then let her do her job. She is past the point of needing to be micromanaged."

In short: "Hey T! Stop being a dummy and nagging/picking a fight with your pony!"

I'm normally very quiet when she is going well, but it honestly never occurred to me to ride like that when she feels awful. I want to fix all the things! Discipline for the naughty ponies! It makes perfect sense, though - as with people, I need to remember to expect the best from her in the moment rather than dwelling on the mistakes in the past (even the 5 seconds ago past). Give the poor pony the chance to be good!
There is a good pony in here, promise
I took those words to heart, and spent the last half of the lesson very conscious of riding with a strong core, keeping my elbows following, and NOT nagging with my legs/hands when B got fussy. Just counterflexing when she got crooked, and lots of up/down transitions depending in whether she was trying to suck back or run through the bridle. 

Further EC comment: "It's no big deal. We've been here before with her , so we can expect to revisit it now and again. She's stronger and better balanced now and she knows her job, so these rides are going to become less and less frequent. Just work through it in the moment."
The reward? The last 20 minutes or so of our ride was really, really nice. Not mind blowing amazing, but pretty darn good considering where we were at a half hour before. EC was going to put a training ride on naughty pony, but then opted not to, saying we worked through the problems just fine on our own and I did nothing different riding wise than she would have done. That makes me happy, because even more than wanting to be a good rider, I really want to learn to be a fair and effective trainer. 

Summary: Give the minimum amount of input for the output you want. Quiet but effective. Not the best ride, but a very good learning experience.  Oh, and Ginger really did look amazing.


On an unrelated note, there are a couple of these cabinets in the barn that have motivational advice and equestrian related quotes written on them. Great idea!
And, the barn owner's 8 year old son added one. It makes me laugh every time. It's concise and direct. The kid is awesome :)

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good lesson! I think if you do move up divisions you will do great, your trainer seems to know their stuff!

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  2. I have to do this a lot when working with magic, he's my baby foal only 9 months old and we're doing lots of in hand work but unfortunately at the moment when he gets stressed I act differently instead of just calmly carrying on! but this post has really reinforced the point to me :) glad you had a good ride in the end :)

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    1. Ohh babies, love them! There are definitely days when I struggle to remain unemotional, even when I know better!

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  3. my trainer always tells me to just ride the horse where i want her and let her get around to actually getting there. i guess trying to micromanage when they're flailing everywhere just adds noise to the system? idk... sounds like a great ride all the same. what a good feeling to be told that you had handled it and worked through it so well!

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  4. Haha I just had the same lesson last night! It's SO HARD to just sit there and let the horse do their job.

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    1. I know, right?! My coach was like "this is probably the hardest thing I'm going to ever ask you to do..."

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  5. Sounds like a great lesson. That's a good reminder for me as well since I'm a horrible micro manager ;)

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    1. It's such an easy trap to fall into!

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  6. Definitely a great lesson, your coach sounds wonderful. I like the "don't fall off" words of wisdom too :P

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    1. He's a smart kid. and yes, my coach is great!

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  7. I am a bit behind the times, but congrats on finding a full leaser for Ginger. It sounds like Midge is coming along really nicely too - despite the baby pony dramas! :-)

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    1. Oh yay, you're back! Been wondering how you're doing :)

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