Initially I wasnt too keen on rising before 7am outside of a show morning, but I am really glad I did because it gave me a nice kick start to my day. There is something just so relaxing about it and it sets you up for the rest of the day so nicely.
|Ready to work!|
I havent had a lesson with Dan since before our first show of the season at Olde Hope back in April. With him being a bit farther its been harder coordinating, but I sort of like the bit of time in between so I have time to process and practice. His lessons are always more technical and thinking lessons. They really do challenge us and get us pushing past our safe zone which is exactly what we need with me aspiring to move up the levels.
The above says it all, and this mornings lesson really made me reflect on this in a way to appreciate the grit and crappy rides we went through and, Im sure, will still experience in the future.
I see some fellow barn mates struggling with confidence or having those harder rides right now and really struggle with what to say because I know when I experienced my own low period, not a whole lot said made me feel better. All I know is, they really suck...but somewhere in there is a silver lining. I just want to hug them all and reassure them it will get better.
Today's lesson wasnt the best feeling lesson...it was really hard and majority of the time we didnt achieve the entire exercise cleanly, BUT I did feel growth and did have a few light bulb moments.
|Tillie ready for breakfast after a hard lesson|
Just like the flower image saying we need to go through dirt before it gets pretty...yea well thats what this lesson was all about.
It was nice starting out...Dan was riding, but said he would shout out things as he saw them and for the first time, he was pretty satisfied with what he saw. He said he liked what he saw and that Tillie was connected and pushing from behind which was good, but now he wanted to see how true it was and if she could be ridden deeper, lower etc without losing the connection since Training level will ask for a stretchy trot.
I sorta sighed in my head like oh crap....but then mentally blocked it knowing we have been working on this and sorta bucked up and confidentially started allowing the stretch to happen.
|This is from Schooling on saturday but a still of me trying to find the adjustable frame|
I didnt quite hear what Dan said after this, but Emma was there and said "He said your horse looks good!" Coming from Dan thats super nice to hear!!!
Next he set up ground poles for a figure 8, lead change exercise where we would ask for the flying change over the poles. I immediately thought "oh crap" again and rather embarrassed asked him how I would go about doing that. Fun fact: I have only ever ridden horses that had auto changes, so knowing how to ask, the timing, let alone training the lead change is really foreign to me.
He was really patient and he himself rode through the exercise talking me through it. When it was my turn, it was of course not as flawless as his...and the first few times was a bit like trying to walk for the first time...but it slowly started to get smoother and a little less rough around the edges.
He made me drop my stirrups (**GASP!!!**) to make sure I wasnt leaning or twisting to ask for the lead, but doing it correctly off my leg. I thought I was going to die....lol but we survived!
I discovered Tillie is much easier left lead changing to right lead, which is no surprise there, since that tends to be her easier side anyway. Dan scolded me a bit on being more accurate to my poles and said that riding a rhythm is great and all and very important with jumping, you also need to see the striding and adapt. Dan put them up to jumps and I happily put my feet back in my stirrups and we moved on with the same exercise but now with jumps.
Tillie was pretty good, but on the landings with longer straightaways wanted to get a bit low and basically tell me she didnt want me messing with her. Dan was encouraging though and kept reminding me to get her sitting down in the canter, really work to get it sharp and in front of my leg with more collection.
He preferred us to get a deeper distance and really kept getting after me when going right lead changing to left lead to keep Tillie more straight. She has a tendency this way to drift left and drop her left shoulder so Dan was persistent to not turn too sharp on landing and that going straight would get the clean change.
|Ears up Tillie! No one likes a mare glare|
Sure enough after staying on her enough, we eventually were getting them. Not every time, but there wasnt a lack of trying!
By the end of the lesson I was huffing and puffing clearly needing to work on my own fitness, but Dan seemed pretty happy with what we offered. It was even more exciting for him to wrap up with what this exercise was all about saying with my goals of moving up, taking more responsibility in my riding rather than letting Tillie pick every spot will get us to Training and Prelim. Dan said at those levels you need to choose your spot depending on the question, you cant jump a table like you would a combination...etc
He sounded pretty positive Training level was a definite for us this year (he offered that...I honestly wasnt asking about it at all) and even said he thinks Prelim is definitely in our reach next season. Both sound really exciting and terrifying all at the same time, but I am committed to only doing whatever level we feel confident at. But it is kind of cool to think Dan thinks we are capable!
I am happy and hopeful...and trying to challenge us enough to grow without hurting either of our confidence.