Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 1: Gymnastics, Heat, and a Wake-up Call

Well, I didn’t exactly start off on the right foot today. I wasn’t even in the first group—that would be the 6:30 group. I was in the 7:30 Training group.

I was up in time. And I even planned for an emergency!

Just not two of them. Sigh.

First, my boot zipper broke whilest I was pulling it up. So I had to run around and find my low boots/half chaps (the half chaps were in the truck back seat…go figure).

Then , after I got PC all tacked up, I was about to mount when I felt a very uncomfortable rumbling, uh, “down there”. I knew I had to take care of it….NOW. So I haltered PC over his bridle, ran to the bathroom, and “took care of business”.

By that time, however, I was 10 minutes late.

I tried to just slip in and meld in with the other two members of the group, who were trotting over a cross rail…but no go. Without even an introduction, I was pulled aside and told how rude it was to arrive late—I wasted the other participants’ time as well as being disrespectful to the instructor.

Ouch. Point taken. I apologized to both clinician and participants.

The good news is that I was able to fold into the lesson then, and I was treated like a regular, respectful, polite student.

After the crossrail, Rainey set up some gymnastics, encouraging us to look through the horse’s ears until the rail disappeared, then looking to the next one. We had a bounce, a one stride, and a two stride. We trotted in and cantered out, and eventually she raised them.

I need to work on keeping my leg secure, strong, and quiet: DON’T step on my toe for leverage. That’s a tough one; I didn’t know I was doing it, but Bobo noted it just a few days before, so I must be. How do I fix something I don’t know I’m doing? Rainey pointed out that I have less leg to use on the horse when I raise my toe. Hmmmm.

Like Jimmy Wofford, Rainey emphasized rhythm before, during, and after the gymnastics, as well as direction and pace. A good pace before the gymnastics pretty much ensured a good gymnastic. We were to try to keep our upper bodies still, only letting the horse’s jump bend us at the hips.

After the straight gymnastic, she set up a two stride gymnastic, and then put a bending line on both sides. She had us take the straight version, then circle around to just the bending part….then we got to put it all together. I ended up having some awkward corners—I think I’m trying too hard. I need to USE MY LEGS, and bend him around my leg during the turn. WHY is it so hard to use legs first, and THEN reins?!

PC backed off the X in the trot iniitally—KNOWING that, I need to anticipate, and FIX IT. That means using leg before fence (and don’t hold to the point he’s got no place to go). Yield w/ rein as I push him into it w/ my leg.

I need to use LEG, not body, to get him to go. Body needs to remain quiet. Uh, that’s just what Jimmy (and then Bobo) said. I want to use the upper body, but the upper body needs to stay quiet; all that energy needs to be focused into the lower legs!
BE STILL (and know that I am God?). And slow things down—that’s what Karl Slezak said about dressage (and jumping) when I tried out one of his horses…rider s try to get through things quickly, but instead we need to try to slow time down, like we’re in slow motion, feeling every breath. Interesting.

Great bending line exercise. Rainey made us do it in two AND three, depending on angle and bend. We have choices (and course designers obviously expect us to make them). So, for the two stride, we took a straight route, angling over the one of the fences; for the three stride, we basically made a small circle. Depending on what came before or after, one might be better than the other.

Remember: SHOULDERS UP, sit up tall. STRETCH.

Leg ON. Use it as a base. I’m reminded of Jimmy Wofford’s article in Practical Horseman about the leg as a base being vital. I believe it!

Shorten reins, hold them up to have the most control.

Don’t post w/ my hands! How can I fall back into these habits?!

Keep horse steady w/ leg on, “fill in” the reins.

My goal w my body: Soft, steady, quiet. Let’s hope Paddy helps me achieve these goals.

Turn w/ EYES first. Body follows (correctly), then legs…and only THEN reins. Don’t pull back—widen “filling in the reins” needs to start w/ leg: he needs to be told to go, and to have some place to go—into my hand!

Hard NOT to fix with hands…but need to engage engine first.

The moon came out a bit early in the clinic. You’ve heard of the Hunter’s moon, the Harvest moon, a Blue Moon, and so forth….well, let’s call this one Martha’s Moon. Full, white, and fleeting, but very impressive ass-ets.

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