Go forward. NOW.
February 7, 2011 8 Comments
Well, I got my butt kicked tonight. And that’s just fine – don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. In my lesson tonight, Christy set out to illustrate to me the degree to which I have a lack of forward. After we warmed up, Christy ratcheted up our trot work, tightening the screws with every turn of the arena. It wasn’t until Maddie spooked that I got some decent, forward trot. As I took a quick walk break, Christy pointed out to me how hard I had been working. “I saw you kicking. I heard you clucking. You got nothing from her, except ‘the hoof!’ ” (which is our euphemism for a horse giving you the bird.)
Christy was right – I was working hard to get anything – bend, contact, leg yield – from the mare. And the biggest problem was the fact that I didn’t have her moving sufficiently forward. As a result, everything was more difficult.
Panting, we did some more trot work. Mads continued to be spooky and stupid at one end of the arena, so I put her to work, doing smaller, 12M circles and figure-8’s. As I got after her, I could feel her back come up, and the noises from the middle of the arena took an approving tone.
“There! Nice!” said Christy. I was remembering to use my half-halt, to balance the trot. “That’s a round horse!”
I was also using the whip. It’s been a while since I even touched Mads with it. Tonight, I gave her a couple good smacks when my requests for more forward were ignored. She hopped forward, and maintained the increased pace pretty well. But, as Christy noted, Mads has become as dull as a doorknob. Reminding her that I have the whip, and will use it, will be necessary as we re-establish our forward gears.
Tonight’s lesson was a great illustration of how lax I’ve allowed Maddie to become. Though we’ll probably have the next few days off due to super-frigid temperatures, I’m hoping to ride Friday, and get back to work. It’s time to move forward!