We’re Getting There…

Nicole and I have been saying these words a lot lately.  Things are really coming together for Savy and me.  After two plus years of training, I can finally ride my horse on the bit and over her back consistently. I can make her neck longer and rounder, and I can raise her poll.  We can comfortably and consistently have nice work at the walk, trot, and canter, both directions.  I can’t tell you happy our progress makes me.  Sure, we still have tough rides every now and then.  Savy is still an Arabian mare after all, but we work through the tough spots.

horeIn addition to having a good grasp on the basics, we’ve been working first level stuff pretty comfortably too.  Lenthenings are getting easier. Savy kicks ass at leg yields.  The work is there for first level, now we just have to polish it – i.e. keeping her rounder and completely through during the more difficult movements.  During my last lesson we worked a tiny bit of passage.  It’s so difficult, but after just a few steps of passage, the regular trot work was so much better and uphill (and easier).

There are two major reasons I think that have made all the difference in the world for us.  The first was Savy’s bone-deep cut at the end of December.  My mentality towards Savy and training has totally changed since then.  Mainly, I don’t take the training as seriously.  If we have a bad ride, it doesn’t upset me.  I know that tomorrow is a new day, and every day I get to ride Savy is a gift.  She could hurt herself today and be out of commission for the rest of her life, and it can happen in an instant.  I forgot that riding was a privilege.  A privilege that I have yearned for my whole life.  I find myself rewarding Savy a lot more now, and focusing on all the positive parts of our ride.  As a result, Savy works for me, she tries for me.  We’re better partners now.

The second is my fitness level.  It’s hard to make progress when you’re trying to work through a movement and your muscles are shaky and ready to give out, and then you have to take a walk break.  I expect Savy to be an athlete and it’s only fair that I do the same myself.  I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but Beachbody has made all of the difference for me.  Before I bought Savy I used to workout 5 days a week and eat low calorie meals.  I got stronger, but I never really got the results I wanted.  After Savy I thought my rides would be enough of a workout, but they’re not.  The meal plans and the workouts, combined with coaching from Beachbody have really worked for me.  I push myself harder than I would if I didn’t have a coach and other people doing the programs with me.  I find myself becoming increasingly more passionate about the company and the programs, and that’s why I decided to become a coach.  If I make a little extra money from doing it, then that’s great, but mostly I want to share this feeling with other people.  I’m going to continue my fitness journey with Beachbody, and it would be great to have people doing it with me.  Enough about that 🙂

Our first show of the season is THIS weekend.  We’re showing Training 2 & 3 to get our feet wet.  Depending on how things go, I’d like to show First Level at the next show.  I’m still super nervous about the show, even though I feel pretty confident at Training Level now.  My biggest worry is that Savy is going to jig in the walk.  Jigging – for my non-horsey friends is somewhere between a walk and trot, and judges do not like it.  Sometimes Savy jigs in our rides and sometimes she doesn’t.  So I’m practicing positive visualization by running through our tests, and visualizing them going perfectly. I’ve read a lot about the power of positive visualization.

Also, I washed my comforter so that I can show everyone the re-decorating projects I’ve done lately and it shrunk 😦  Once my new one comes in I’ll get some pics up here.

 

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A Really Good Lesson

My lesson last night was so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it and decided I had to write a post about it.  A small but spectacular thing happened.   I looked down at my hands at one point and they were correct.  My outside hand was an inch from the withers, my inside hand was about two inches from the withers, my thumbs were up and they were in front of the pommel.  So simple, yet I’ve been trying to get to this point for almost 2 years now.

When I first sat on my very green mare 2 years ago and decided I wanted to learn dressage, my hands were quiet.  Very quiet.  So quiet they never moved.  My trainer would say “wiggle the inside rein”, “squeeze the outside rein”.  What??  What does that even mean.  Even now I have to remind myself to have some play with my fingers every few strides.  Luckily I’m to the point where when my trainer says half-halt, I’m already half-halting, or when she say shorten your reins I just had the same thought.  Timing is everything.  This is probably related, but last night was also the most steadily connected we’ve ever been.  I had much fewer moments when there was slack in the reins.

Not surprisingly, once I figured out my hands, they became much less important than my seat and my leg.  So yes I have a good connection, but now I need consistent forward.  Prior to last night I could get away with using my heels, or using what I can only describe as leg flaps, not really a kick, not really a squeeze either.  This only works for a few strides and it makes her tense and unbalanced.  So I have some homework…dropping my leg below the knee, keeping my toes forward and squeezing with my calf.  This position is not natural for my body but so much more effective that I can’t argue with the result.  We started first at the canter and oh my.  Suddenly Savy seemed to melt and spring forward at the same time.  She was relaxed, correctly bent to the inside, on the outside rein and oh so wonderful.  It’s amazing what tiny differences can make 🙂