I have several draft posts about my recent lessons that I just haven’t had the motivation to write about. They haven’t been bad. They haven’t been exciting. They haven’t been boring. I just haven’t had the motivation. That said, I do like writing about lessons as this blog also serves as a record of Nay Nay’s progress. Still… I’m not pushing it.
My last 3 lessons (all taking place in a 7 day period) have been all over the board. This reflects my recent rides. Everything as of late is lacking consistency. I’ll be honest? This has sort of wrecked my confidence a bit. But, going forward, I need to just put that aside and ride the horse I have.
Instead of recapping the rides, I’m going to instead recap the takeaways.
- Sit DOWN. When I’m uncomfortable, I have a habit of tensing in my thighs and ankles and sitting ON the saddle vs IN the saddle. If I really sit down, Nay starts to relax. If I tense, I give Nay reason to tense.
- Engage the brain. When I get on, get to work immediately. Work doesn’t mean trotting. Work mean getting into the center of the ring and circling and changing direction and marching forward. Start the trot the same way. ONLY once the brain is engaged and the body and back is warmed up do we leave the center and continue on. Once on the rail? Sometimes the brain still needs extra engagement. Nay likes poles on these days so circling and adding some pole work and lots of change of direction once his back is warmed up is good.
- Utilize draw reins. This one might be controversial to some, but, like everything else, they are a tool and when used properly, they have a place. We’ve introduced them and Nay Nay is responding well.
- MARCH ON. This is especially important when using draw reins. If I am using draw reins, I CANNOT have an up and down trot. It needs to have power, it needs to be forward, it needs to have controlled speed. Basically, I need to ride. So often when trotting, I just am happy if we are trotting slowly and not dying, but this isn’t OK. This isn’t a proper trot. So, March On.
- Ride the horse you have today. Basically, stay in the moment. I can’t ride concerned about what happened last week or yesterday because the horse I had those rides might not be the horse I have this ride. This one is SO hard for me. I fixate on past issues or mistakes or fears rather than embracing the moment.
- Control what you can control. Some rides just don’t happen. If Nay is tense? It might be worth it to take advantage of running through the indoor. Preemptively. If I get on and it’s STILL not going well despite engaging the brain? I can get off and lunge or run around the indoor. That’s OK. Sometimes the only thing you can do is free lunge or run around or lunge. That’s OK too. If it goes really well and everything is accomplished in 10 minutes? It’s OK to end there too.
While Nay Nay hops around and curls up in a ball, he doesn’t actually do anything beyond that. In addition, he ONLY does this at the trot. Never at the canter. So, as long as he warms up and works out of it, things are usually fine once we do canter. I’m so much more comfortable at the trot MENTALLY, but my horse does NOTHING at the canter. I have no clue. Brains are strange things.
Anyway, it’s cold and miserable (temperature wise, we finally have sun over snow and ice) but I’m hoping to get out to ride by Saturday if I can dig out the trailer. We’ll see if I can follow my own advice!
All good takeaways! I get angsty about the forward button too, and honestly it’s the root of all my problems. Get them moving forward and working and you can (USUALLY, but not always) work through the fresh. But forward seems so scary when you feel like you’re sitting on a time bomb.