Sunday, October 23, 2011

We have Access! And a Lesson

Yay! We werent left in the dark too long without a computer, fortunately. As it turned out, after all my bills were paid I had some extra cash I was planning on putting towards my trailer payments. But we skipped that for now and Boyfriend matched my cash amount with his own and we were able to stop at Best Buy last night and get ourselves a new HP laptop. Much more updated than the old one we were using before.

So as I had informed you in the last post, I had a lesson (on Milo!) at Sarah's yesterday. After five weeks we were finally able to get Milo out there and get a much needed and long overdue lesson. Unfortunately, the paint we needed to paint his hocks with was not available and would need probably a few more weeks to get here. I was bummed to hear that news as I felt my horse really needed his hocks painted pronto. Sarah, however, had another thought after watching him move.

I was warming him up at the walk and trot, undersaddle and with spurs although with feet out of the stirrups, as Sarah finished up helping someone with stalls. When she was done, we watched for a new moments and commented that our work looked really good. She said he was stepping up nicely from the rear. She believed that we could supple Milo's hocks a bit more before getting the paint on. As she stated, the universe was telling us through the paint not being ready, my farrier not having the slide plates, and both his and my schedules not matching up to put them on, that Milo needed more time before we painted his hocks.

She wanted us to work on long serpentines at the trot and to find straight. As we weaved back and forth, and Milo kept fishtailing his hip out on the turns, Sarah asked why she kept seeing this happen over and over even after she told me to be aware of it. To be honest, I wasnt sure what I was supposed to be accomplishing initially, and only felt the fishtailing when she commented on it. She told me that as we came out of the turn, I needed to capture his hip swing with my outside leg back. I tried again and again and still couldnt seem to stop the hip swing, turning to the right was most difficult. Why was this important? Because if his hip swung out, the inside power leg was torquing and therefore was not strong and could be causing inflammation and soreness.

Then Sarah told me I needed to stop looking at his head. The head comes last behind what the hip and barrel is doing. If those are in place, the head will be too. If I only focus on his head, that is the only awareness that my body has of his. So as we came out of the serpentine circles, I was to focus on something across the arena and ride straight to it. It took a couple of attempts before I was able to maintain focus on something without looking back down at Milo's head. And Sarah was right; finding a point to ride straight to allowed me to be aware of and feel the hind end.

Now that my perception of his rear was back, turns to the left were starting to come together, where I could capture his hip before swinging out and use his power leg to propel forward and straight. However getting the same good straight turns to the right were still difficult. After a few more turns Sarah commented that I was using my inside rein too much in the turn, and being that is my dominant, right, hand, I was snatching at his mouth making him curl to the inside, bulge his shoulder out, and therefore swing his hip out to balance. What I needed to be doing was asking for the turn with my outside rein, which would then catch his shoulder if needed, and allow straight to happen.

As the right turn came up, I dropped my right hand down so there was no way I could pick it up unintentionally in the turn. I turned with my left rein and body, and put my left (outside) leg back to block the hip swing. And he turned right over on his power hock, maintained straight, and propelled forward, strong. We had done it!

Sarah recommended that we continue to work on this exercise, and for me to build more awareness of not only the rear end, but my entire left side as I dont have the same feel on the left as I do the right. She challenged me to use the Motivator stick in my left hand only so I could begin to gain some ambidexterity between my hands. In addition to this serpentine exercise, she recommended going back to the circle figure eight exercises she was having me work on last winter. It would not only help me gain awareness of his hind end, but build strength and supple his hocks as it required both he and I to be aware of the hind end.

So although we didnt get "accomplished" what was planned for the lesson, I am happy with where we are at and working towards, with confidence that come the time to paint and shoe, Milo will be strong and where he needs to be. It will also provide me with some time to work on a few more things within myself. In just the last two weeks of bareback and spur-less riding, I have made headway in finding relaxation in my ankles and becoming more aware of my horse's body. I think if I put my mind towards continued awareness of Milo's and my body, that I can find success in it again.

Another winter of working on myself! At least this time I have a saddle...although I think at minimum twice a week I want to utilize the bareback pad again. It may actually be time to replace the fluffy pink pad too...

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