Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lightbulb Moments

It can be hard to get out to the barn for me. I've got a 2.5 year old to contend with and who needs supervision. I don't feel safe letting her run around yet while I ride. When I found out that the barn owner's daughter could be present for the wednesday night clinic, however, I jumped at the chance to get out and ride and have my daughter watched so she doesn't fall through a hole in the hayloft in a horse stall, or something.

But this isn't about my daughter. This is about Gwyn. Lately the clinic has had two professionals on hand. The barn owner, and a lady who I'm not familiar with but has always given excellent advice and explained things well when I've seen her teach in the past. The clinic is about building blocks and basics and applying that eventually to under saddle work.

Tonight, we worked on getting our cues as soft and subtle as possible from moving into a walk from the halt, to halting, to turning with little to no contact on the mouth. I was bareback, as I've been since October, and I really felt that was beneficial to me tonight (aside from keeping me warm). Gwyn and I have a pretty good rapport with one another and Jim has long had me practice a soft halt off just seat aids with reins only as a "hey LISTEN" reminder. So for that portion, we worked on refining that.

Then we moved on to turning. We've got broader turns pretty much good, but it was the tighter ones where I'm still seeing some resistance. The second trainer suggested that I look across the shoulder opposite the side I want a turn, rather than looking in the direction I wanted to go like I was always taught in pony club.

Oh my god. Holy hell. Suddenly I had these gorgeous, soft, relaxed quarter turn on the haunches and could do tight spins around the horse ball in the arena. I would sit straight, look left, apply left leg slightly and boom, swing to the right and it felt SO RIGHT. But it's going to be a pain in the ass to break that habit, let me tell you. Then I just practiced swinging Gwyn all over the arena and it was fun and it was like I experienced a moment of freedom and clarity in my communication with her. Just remembering it makes my heart feel like bursting. Those are the moments I live for when I ride!

Another thing I should practice, is riding with one eye closed and then switching, to keep Gwyn straight. It changes my balance EVER SO SLIGHTLY and she responds to it. This horse is amazing and I love that even with how well we get on, I'm still learning to make it a better partnership. I want to be a rider that can bring out the best potential in her and tonight we took a step closer to that goal. Riding bareback also allowed me to focus just on my seat and feel my balance and how she moves. As much as I want a saddle so we can work on some more canter stuff, this is all good foundation, I need to keep reminding myself of that.

I love this horse so much. She gives me everything and more.

Arena ball playtime with the kidlet!

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