On Wednesday at about 4:20 (10 minutes before I leave work) I got a message from Linda asking whether or not I wanted to do a lesson with her and Margie as was the routine before Bentley’s lameness.
Hmmm. My thought was about how I wasn’t able to ride on Tuesday in my lesson because I was too sore from riding on Monday. Do I really want to potentially give up my Thursday and push myself for a lesson? And when am I going to test these trails I have mapped out on paper for the harvest hack? I don’t have a lot of evenings with light in them in the near future. So what if I am too sore to test them on Thursday?
After a bit of debating, I decided that if I was to be sore tomorrow, that is a problem for tomorrow, and I should just do the lesson today! So as fast as I could I left work, changed, and got my horse ready for a lesson.
Again, I suspect Bentley must have known that I wasn’t in any shape to deal with nonsense, and didn’t pull any funny business. He even reduced the number of times he snaked his neck down for nibbles, which is great because trying to pull him up was painful on my back! Or maybe he just wasn’t hungry as usual… Margie did think he was pretty darn fat and called him a “round bale with legs”
Most of our lesson focused on trying to keep him in contact. I have a tendency to let the reins drop as soon as he drops his head into a frame. Possibly I am over compensating when trying to soften to reward him for dropping his head down. As a result, we lose the contact even though he is in frame, and he cant hold his balance very long. So getting used to the feeling of keeping shorter reins and making smaller adjustments through my arms.
I also let him lose momentum once he gets into a frame and contact and do a trot so slow I will reserve it for our CTR trot ins! Instead, I am going to have to work on finding the exact amount of pressure to give him with my legs to keep moving forward and into my contact without making him run or lose contact. Again, tiny tiny adjustments to be made.
I am very proud of the fact that our work was focused on such tiny things. Its whats going to take us from a good partnership to a great partnership, and it means that we already have a good partnership! It was nice to feel it coming together like that.
We pleasantly surprised Margie with our canter. I am sure she was prepared for the horse explosion that Bentley usually gives me, but instead he gave the same calm transitions that he showed me and heather in this last week. Hes so funny though, even though there was no explosion, he flips his tail right around every time we make the transition. So cute.
It was nice because instead of just working on getting him to slow down, I was getting instructions to help us with our form. It seems like I bring my outside shoulder back when we canter (even when straight) I am not sure if that’s a habit or a result of my sore back. It seemed to be far more severe in the direction where my not-sore side was on the outside. But that was also our first direction, so maybe I just reminded myself enough and corrected it by the time we changed directions.
My back was starting to get pretty sore after a few minutes of cantering both directions. So I called it quits a minute or two early. Besides, it was such a good canter, I was very happy to end on those notes.
We had enough daylight after the lesson so Linda and I tested the trail for the Harvest Hack. I had drawn some potential routes out on paper, and hoped that it would be the 3.5 mile loop we were looking for. Lucky me, it was!
I also didn’t hurt quite as much trotting, even over hilly terrain, I guess I must use more of my back when I canter than when I post. Would make a lot of sense.
Another great improvement was our descent down the big hill. That was the one where Bentley would try and run down and then almost bucked me into a tree. However, this time he carefully stepped down without trying to take off. Also listened to my aids to rebalance himself whenever he was getting a little too front heavy.
So overall, a great ride! He is certainly ready for Oktoberfest, I sure hope I am too!
Yesterday i was pretty sore again so instead of riding, I had a nice salt bath and watched some TV. I did have to go over to the barn to give Bentley his dinner, and since we were already in, decided to work on his ground skills again.
Lee worked on backing him up like I had on Sunday, trying to use as little pressure as possible. Eventually I took over and had him walking forwards, stopping and backing up with only my movements (no lead rope) to guide him. Eventually we threw a pole into the equation too.
First I had him walk forward over the pole and stop with only his front feet in front of the pole. I would back up and have him follow back over the pole. For the most part he did this very well, but he didn’t seem to actually care whether he stepped half on the pole or not. But at least he didn’t refuse and stayed straight.
Next I tried bringing all 4 feet in front of the pole and back completely over. He started out going backwards crooked and made a mess of the pole. Reset it and tried again. Went back straight this time, but again didn’t seem to care about actually stepping over the poles. We ended up with both front feet standing on top of the pole like a log roller. Somehow he was content with this. He did back up off the poles when asked. I counted this as a win and that was it for the night. I am hoping all this work will help him back out of the trailer. I guess we will see!