So obviously anyone following along closely will have noticed some fairly regular lesson updates, and then a gap. We had to put the lessons on hold temporarily, but we did manage to squeeze in a last-minute one Tuesday night -- yay! Our last lesson didn’t go as well as I would have hoped, 95% because of me (isn’t that always how it goes?). So I was really hoping this lesson would be better, although I didn’t necessarily set myself up for success because my last month has basically been spent trail riding because I was frustrated about how our “arena work” was going.
However, Ruby had her big girl pants on Tuesday, and I managed to keep myself mostly together, and we had a productive lesson. After warming up, a lot of the lesson was spent on an exercise designed to help me fully utilize the arena -- Ruby has a tendency to cut circles short and not really go into the corners, and generally get kind of dodgy. Obviously when I say Ruby has this tendency, it’s because I’m not riding particularly well. In the past, a previous instructor (with Topaz) had me think about riding squares -- Tuesday, dressage instructor used a variation of that exercise, thinking about riding a diamond.
Enjoy another one of my shitty diagrams in Paint! Obviously the black rectangle is the arena. The red circle would be the goal circle. The horrible green squiggly line is a fair representation of what a lot of my circles look like (yes, I’m the world’s shittiest dressage rider -- surely you’ve noticed?). Blue-ish line was the exercise -- the goal was for me to treat that particular quarter of my “circle” as a diamond, and ride straight at a point on the short side (A or C, depending on which side of the arena), then complete my turn.
The point was to make sure I had Ruby’s full attention, and that I was making the decisions about where to go, not just following the walls, or letting her decide when she felt like ending the circle. You know, RIDING my horse. Obviously running through this exercise at the trot and canter both directions several times didn’t magically cure the issue, but it gave me another tool in my toolbox, and by the end even I could feel some improvement. The exercise could be reversed if you had a horse bulging out too much on the circles. So say with my drawing, the 3rd quadrant of the circle is the straight line -- the fourth quadrant would be the straight line to run the exercise if you had the opposite issue.
Due to our alarming lack of fitness, after warming up and running through this exercise at various gaits and both directions, Ruby and I were pretty much toast. We devoted the rest of the lesson to some walking and some intermittent work on our TotF under saddle. I explained to instructor that Ruby had started to anticipate the cue on the ground, so I had to spend some time “un-installing” and then “re-installing” the buttons, making it abundantly clear that she had to actually wait for the cue to proceed. While I appreciate a smart horse, sometimes it means one step forward, two steps back! However, I have to remind myself that isn't failure -- it's a cha-cha.
I felt pretty good about the lesson as a whole by the end. We only had one break at the canter (and while I was totally scrambling and a shitshow to fix it, but at least there was only one!). There were several times I could feel her wanting to break but I kept pushing her forward. There were also other times where I made corrections before instructor had to prompt me to make them, which got me a “good!” (being Type A, I like that, haha). Obviously still 9023408632457 things to work on, but I was happy with the lesson. Also, instructor commented favorably on Ruby's mane -- thanks Hanna!
One thing that came up during the lesson was core strength -- sometimes Ruby likes to root down, which tips me forward in the saddle. I’ve noticed this problem with Cinna on a much smaller scale, so obviously my core weakness is a major red flag. So core exercises are being added to my gym routine!
While I’m still not 100% committed yet (and I skipped riding last night because of the heat advisory, plus just general wussiness), I can feel the stirrings of ACTUAL motivation to school. Maybe we’ll be ready for the fall show in 5 weeks after all?