November 20, 2013 1 Comment
It’s been more than a two months since I’ve updated the blog. Mea culpa! Life has been busy – busy enough, in fact, that it’s impacted my riding. And frankly, blogging falls by the wayside before barn time. So does bed time, for that matter.
My knee is feeling great and overall, I know my strength is more symmetrical, though now that I’m so self aware, I can detect some lingering weaknesses. Rome wasn’t built in a day, however, and I’ll keep chipping away at building more strength here and flexibility there. It is, as they say, a process.
We’re entering my least favorite time of the year. The days grow shorter and shorter, and I hate how the darkness encroaches more and more upon each day. And the temperatures drop, some times varying dramatically day to day. Derby gets a bit looney during those first couple cold snaps – which means that my seat needs to be SOLID. Additionally, as Christy has pointed out, I need do be doing a better job of keeping Derby on the bit and on my aids. “Contact isn’t something you maintain for the sake of maintaining it, ” Christy told me recently. ” Contact is feedback, and you need to listen and respond to it.”
On Monday, it was windy and cold, and I was apprehensive. Christy had me start my lesson with reins short and legs active, asking me to put Derby on the bit and keep him there. Now, the fact that I generally *don’t* do this is the root of many of my problems, and I know this. However, thinking something and doing it are different things. Howeve, with Christy’s coaching, we had some lovely contact and subsequent walk work, but I struggled putting it all together at the trot.
I tried again yesterday, and did a bit better, but the real breakthrough was tonight. It’s been months since I was able to get Derby to stay round and connected, with good contact, but I got it done tonight. I have another lesson tomorrow, and will try to get some video. It felt great, and I want to see how we look!
In addition to Derby, I’ve been working assiduously on my strength and position by grabbing additional rides on Tucker when I can, which is usually about three times a week. This is working well for me, as Tuck is a very sensitive guy, and gives me indisputable feedback about my position. If leaning one way or slumping another, he lets me know. Tucker is helping me improve my own straightness, because he refuses to ignore me when I’m crooked.
Christy has also wisely used this rebuilding time to work on quieting my hands, and her efforts are paying off. All in all, I’m much quieter in the saddle, and the horses are going better, because (at least I believe) I’m reducing the ambient noise my flapping arms and nagging heels caused. The work is a bit dull but there’s no question that rides like tonight are a satisfying payoff.