I had every intention of riding yesterday, but it took me 2 HOURS to get out to the barn last night. I didn't know how to turn the lights on in the arena, so Kwik (who is now a soft wooly teddy bear) and I had a snuggle session instead! Then I went home to carve pumpkins with my honey. Happy Halloween!
I had a lesson Saturday with A, and we ended with a bit of jumping. This was only Kwik's second jump session, so we're taking things slowly to build good habits and confidence from the get go. We began just walking over a small cavaletti. Once he was comfortable walking over it we picked up a trot a few strides away. He ducked out and gave me a couple of small bucks as he cantered away. I regrouped and sent him around again. He jumped it like it was 5', and I was completely thrown off balance. He threw a couple small bucks when we landed as I tried to regroup. Once I got myself back together, my first instinct was to hop off and let A deal with his shenanigans, but my new-found confidence kicked in! I know this horse gets rattled when I get discombobulated, and he is extremely correct when I am correct. So, my job is to sit correctly and give him the confidence he lacks at this stage in the game. So, I picked up a trot, pointed him at the cavaletti again, sat a bit deeper, and encouraged him forward. Kwik popped right over, trotted politely out, and came right back to a walk when I asked!
After he was comfortably jumping the small cavaletti, we moved on to a very small vertical with some trot poles in front. I could feel him hesitate, and I thought he might try and duck out. I gave him a little more leg, and he jumped right over. After a few more trips through, he figured out how to pick up his front feet, and we moved on to another teeny vertical. Kwik was definitely more confident heading into this vertical (complete with fall wreaths!), and he threw a little party for himself as he cantered out! We ended there and recapped the lesson:
- Kwik is learning to stretch and bend (yay!), but he has figured out that he can overbend to the inside and pop his rear end to the outside rather than traveling straight. My first instinct is to use my inside rein to move him over, which is exactly what he wants me to do. It took a while for the idea to click, but A explained that I need to open my outside rein, bend him slightly to the outside, push his rear over with my outside leg, and use my inside leg as a post. That's a lot to think about and do all at once! It definitely got better, but we will be drilling this all week.
- Kwik is correct when I am correct. That's all there is to it. If he's doing something naughty, its because I am not riding effectively or I'm all nerved up. I have so many little things to check off in my head to make sure I am sitting correctly, and I'm constantly reminding myself when I ride. I'm hoping if I can fix my lower half, my upper half will be easier to adjust.
- A explained that when teaching green horses to jump, she likes to sit a bit deeper rather than assume half seat/jump position. That way, she has her leg and seat aids and can use them to encourage the horse forward and over the jump. When the horse is more confident, the half seat can be incorporated.
I was really proud of myself for this ride. A lot of it was ugly as I tried to fix myself, and I almost lost my brain when Kwik lost his. But I regrouped, rode through it, and ended with a good thing going.
AH was in town again this past week, and she offered to work with Kwik and I on Friday after work. Boy was I a HOT MESS! Since my riding history is pretty much all over the place (hunter land for a few years, dressage/combined training for a few years, no riding for 2 years, hunter land for a bit, no riding for 2 years, back to hunter land) I knew I had probably picked up some bad habits.
As it stands:
- I ride with my leg way too far backward with minimal constant contact
- I have a tendency to shove the horse forward with my seat
- My wrists tend to be broken and twist in awkard, extremely incorrect positions
- I'm STIFF
-My arms tend to be more on the straight side rather than having a nice bend in my elbows
- I don't ride with nearly enough rein contact
So... we spent the entire lesson working to correct some of these things. As usual, Kwik was a great sport as I flopped around on top trying to figure this out. <3 that horse!
Saturday was spent with my honey, Adam, at the Decatur Beer Festival, so Kwikster got the day off.
Sunday AH, H, K, and I loaded up the ponies and went trail riding at Kennesaw Mountain again. It was another beautiful day, and we came across lots of other riders, walkers, and joggers enjoying the nice weather. I really tried to focus on sitting down in my saddle and keeping a constant contact in my lower leg. The last time we rode at Kennesaw Mountain my knees were killing me halfway through our ride, and it was extremely difficult to dismount when we got back to the trailer. Opening my knee and redirecting the contact to my lower leg completely eliminated that pain, and I felt much more secure when cantering/galloping. What do you know?!?
I had another lesson with AH last night, and everything finally started to click. I'm a visual learner, so AH hopped on Kwik to show me how I should be sitting. Having that mental picture made it possible for me to recreate her position, and Kwik immeditely responded. As soon as I began to sit correctly, I had a horse that was reaching for the contact and moving forward with energy and rhythm. She gave me some excercises to work on in the next couple of weeks, and I'm so excited we (mostly me- Kwik's got this all down pat) made some progress. AH will be back in a cuple of weeks so I'm hoping we can show her some good stuff in our next lesson.
A bunch of us from the farm packed up the ponies and traveled to Rome, GA for In Unison Farm's annual hunter pace two weekends ago. I'm not going to lie- I had never been to a hunter pace before, and at this point I hadn't ridden Kwik off-site yet. A offered up her gelding Pecker since she wouldn't be in town for the ride. I was still a little nervous about cantering/galloping an unfamiliar horse out in the open (why am I such a chicken?!?!?!!?), but I went anyway. I'm so glad I did! The course was absolutely beautiful, it was a lovely sunny fall day, Pecker took super good care of me, and I had a great time! AP and I rode together in the Bluebird hilltopping division. We had some great trot and canter stretches, did a bit of up-hill galloping, and just enjoyed each other's company. Bonus! We even managed to win our division! Thanks to all of the In Unison Farm staff and volunteers who made such a great ride possible!
Well, I've finally consented that Finn and I just aren't a good match. He is a beautiful horse with loads of potential, but he requires an experienced, confident rider- waaay more experienced and confident than me. I've thought this through over and over, cried quite a bit, and have finally made peace with this decision. I think I've found an excellent opportunity (cross fingers!) for him- so more details on that soon if all goes well.
I have a NEW HORSE! Kwik is the 9-year old OTTB I have been riding out at the farm. It definitely was not my intention to buy another horse while still trying to figure out what to do with Finn, but sometimes opportunities like this just don't care about your best laid plans. I've spent a lot of time feeling guilty about this as well, but I've decided it's just time to be happy and excited.
The Treat Lady's Here!
H likes to call Kwik "The Most Wonderful Horse in the World," and I agree. He raced fairly successfully from 2005-2010 with 62 starts, earning $72,603. All of these races, save for 3, were claiming races, and he changed owners quite often. After he retired in 2010, he came to the farm and found a home as a yearling babysitter. Afterwards he went to live with a family. Unfortunately the family was no longer able to keep him due to financial reasons, and he wound up back at the farm a few weeks before Finn and I arrived. He is still a greenie, but this horse has the best attitude!
I had a lesson with A two weeks ago on him, and we started him over some little crossrails. He was a bit confused, but he just popped over anyway. After a couple of goes, he figured out how to jump like a big boy and you could tell he was proud of himself. We've also done some off-site riding as well, and he didn't bat an eye at the deer, dogs, strollers, and cars we encountered along the trails. Riding a horse with this kind of attitude is such a big change for me, and it is so much FUN!! I'm really starting to enjoy riding again, and I'm feeling much more confident. Isn't that what this is all about?