With Day 1 down and out of the way, I was feeling a lot more confident about Day 2. It seemed like my worst fears had been stomped down and I could focus and enjoy my horse, the lesson, and follow the instruction without being too guarded or worrying if something would trigger a reaction (nevermind the fact that Annie has been schooling just fine aside from the one day I previously mentioned).
It had absolutely poured rain overnight, and when I crawled out of bed around 7:30am, I inwardly groaned knowing that I undoubtedly was about to be cold and wet for a majority of the morning. With my lesson at 9:15 and a good 50 minute drive ahead of me, I was less than enthused to be getting up early on my only day off for the week. So hard done by, having to get up early for a riding lesson.
I did run a bit late at the horses in the morning which meant I didn't get a chance to nebulize before trailering out, but figured I could nebulize at the grounds if needed. Since Annie was pretty soaked, I threw a cooler on and crossed my fingers she would be dry enough by the time we reached the grounds. The rain continued for the entire drive, and as I sped up my wipers, I tried to not focus on how miserable riding in the cold and rain would be.
Upon arriving, I parked close to the indoor arena, having noted that the current lesson of the day was taking place in there. Annie unloaded like a much more civilized beast and went right to snacking on grass by my feet before we ventured to the indoor to view the current lesson (and to stay dry!).
Unfortunately, the lessons got a bit back-logged and mine ended up getting bumped to an hour later. Which, no biggie, it happens. One of the awesome things about Anthony is that he isn't under a time crunch - if you need longer than your slotted 45 minutes to figure something out, he'll happily coach you until things are in a good place. I've been one of those lessons before, so I can both understand and appreciate the delay.
I ended up not nebulizing, because of the time delay I figured I'd wait until we got closer, and then before I knew it, it was time to get on. Time management is difficult when you aren't exactly sure what your ride time is and are too focused on being late that you end up being late anyways. Oh, anxiety.
I needn't worry though, because the lack of nebulizing was a non-issue. Annie was perfectly happy to go round and we were able to get some good work in. Because it was her first time back in the indoor arena in (oh man I just looked back... it's been a while) several months and even longer since she was ridden in it, mare was SPOOKY.
Coffee cups on the mounting block were a NO GO and it took a little bit to get the hamsters back on their wheels and all cylinders firing once again. It was a good opportunity tho, because it made me realize just how much I hang on my inside rein (esp tracking left... which is our bad canter steering way.... a coincidence maybe?? Maybe not).
Anthony instructed me to drop my inside rein, focus on making her an athlete (forward and steer) and ignore the rest. Spooking wasn't the issue, the issue was lack of forward and lack of steering. My resolution to this was to pull the inside rein, which off-balances her and over-bends her - as Anthony put it, "If you are coming up to a spooky liverpool, are you going to grab the inside rein and overbend?"
Point taken, sir!
Once Annie stopped being so offended by the arena drag and the coffee cup, we went to work on the previous days lesson. The basis of this lesson was keeping her engaged in the bridle but not deep and down. A majority of our work was also on my tendency to push the inside rein into her neck and/or keep it tight against the neck. It was really hard trying to retrain myself to slacken that rein and to straighten her head/neck. The flat-work went well enough that Anthony suggested heading to the outdoor to pop over some jumps and I was quite surprised (and flattered, bc long-time readers might remember how hard I've worked to make it over some jumps in his clinics! I've spent a fair amount of clinics just flatting because we weren't "quite there" yet.) he gave me an entire course to play with.
- Bend should be something you can turn on and turn off.
- When things go wrong, I tend to bend her vs steering her. Bend isn't a bad thing, but it isn't going to help us go forwards or help us steer.
- I ride with my hands off-centered to the right (inside rein tight against the neck), and therefore am consistently telling her "right, right, right" when I am meaning straight. The aid for "turn right" doesn't change when I am asking, and this is where a lot of the resistance to the right aid comes from. By asking her "right" all the time, I am making that cue lose value and confusing her.
- When doing a down-transition, forward is the goal. Make her an athlete.
- Left hand off/away from the neck.
- Do not allow your steering to slow you down. Steering doesn't mean slow.
- Encourage her to look up.
- She makes your job of a going into 2pt before the jump difficult, as she doesn't like to commit to the fence until she gets to it. With adding power and steering, that will eventually go away. For now, your job is to ensure she stays committed and straight. (She likes to stall down a gear or two if I am not right on her butt until the take-off point).
- "Can you imagine if this was your warm up round? We'd be having even more fun."