This has been a difficult week.
Well, honestly, a difficult past two weeks.
Last week I knew I really needed a lesson, and my Boss helped make that happen by graciously hauling Milo to Sarah's for a daytime weekday lesson. During that week (and the one before, right after the show) I had known that my horse wasnt moving properly, and things just werent correct. At the lesson, it was apparent to Sarah that Milo was not straight. He was not coming over his back, and in fact, he sucked back (turtled is more the verbage we have been using for him - in that he sucks into his shoulder, a habit back from poor saddle fitting days) when applied bridle pressure as a cue for collection. Remember the demonstration Sarah did on me to understand the difference between bridle pressure, and encouragement from the bridle? I remember the feeling still, and with that, we have moved into work this past week.
I have diligently been trying to not use my reins except for guidance (ie, turning) as needed. Sarah told me I had to find balance in my seat bones and ride from my seat. I knew coming from the lesson that this was going to be another "Nina needs to fix x, y, and z" type of deal, and I already wasnt looking forward to it. But I felt better after the lesson.
Remember my post saying I didnt ride for four days? Well, when I did get back on, things just werent going well. In fact, in that ride, I didnt even go above a trot because I felt so lost in my body and knew it would be rediculous to attempt to lope. I even said to a fellow boarder who rides dressage that "if I couldnt find my left seat bone at the trot, no way was I going to try loping". She laughed, and seemed to understand. I put Milo away, feeling a bit defeated, but willing to try again the next day. I even remembered a stretch Sarah had shown me before, to try and gain more knowledge of that left seat bone. Throughout that evening, I even focused harder on basic things like sitting and relaxing, and trying to find balance between my seat bones while not on my horse.
Thursday I rode again, and while I seemed to be able to find my seat bones a bit more, and even took the work into the lope, really focusing on my seat bones especially opening up the inside one for a turn, I still found dry spots behind Milo's shoulders after our ride. But... I thought we were getting lift. I really thought the ride had been pretty well. But the sweat marks clearly indicated that Milo wasnt moving properly. IN frustration, a frog made home in my throat and a few teardrops fell. What I thought was a step forward still wasnt correct. I used the words "frustration" and "defeated" in my text message to Sarah, who responded that "it is coming".
Friday morning I drove to the barn, and already felt the sting of defeat miles away from reaching the barn. I knew I needed to change my mindset. But I wasnt looking forward to riding. I got on anyways, and started working. Snake exercises, butterfly exercise, torso twists, any effort to find my hips and get my horse working over his back. Things seemed to be going well at the trot, so I moved up to the lope. Everything fell apart.
My horse could not lope off correctly as I knew he had been doing consistently at the horse show. My horse hollowed away from the outside rein that I tried to give, to keep his shoulders in line with his hips, and he was increasing speed from my spur, not lifting his back as I was asking. Everything was going wrong.
I finally got a couple decent lope strides, and knew I had to take it. I was so frustrated, I didnt even want to work on anything else. I was trying hard. I was wanting to find balance in my seat bones, I was lifting my seat to encourage him to come up underneath me, and I was holding onto the last few inches of rein, he had his head to himself. What was going on?
I got off, and this time, real tears flowed down. Again, I used the words "defeated" "frustrated" and "disappointed" as I texted Sarah. Again, she told me "it is coming". It sure didnt feel like it, and I voiced that feeling to her. She reminded me that Milo isnt straight because he is confused, and confused because he isnt straight. That sounds great, but those cryptic words dont tell me how to fix it. She advised going back to something we are good at. I cant find anything we are good at, at this point. A few minutes passed by, and she suggested that I go back to bareback. "What better way to get in your body and your horse's back than bareback?" she questioned.
I guess I know what I am trying on Monday.