This is a post from my horseforum.com thread that I started when I got Max. I’m so lucky the forum is still around and I was able to go back and add it to Lipizzan Life.
I have a lot to cover in this entry. The moral of the story is, I DID IT! Anyways:
My trainer and I went to the USDF Region 3 Finals in Conyers, Georgia. We sat in the big arena and watched musical freestyles all day. What an eye opener!
We got there around the time the level 2 freestyles were starting. My jaw dropped open. There were so many people there just flopping all over the place. One person’s shoulders rolled forward while her head bobbled around when she was sitting the trot. I couldn’t believe people would compete unless they had a good strong seat and a balanced posture.
I was kind of wondering if this was all a big joke, but then we started going up the levels and by the time we got to Grand Prix, it was a pretty good show. There was one person there that really took my breath away. It was like watching an Olympic performance. Every move was crystal clear and performed with style.
Overall, though there were a lot of really good riders and horses, I left with a firm idea of what NOT to do.
While we were at the show, we walked around and looked at the vendors. A saddle vendor practically ran us down and dragged me over to sit in a dressage saddle. I had never sat in a dressage saddle before! It was a big “ahhHAH” moment. When my legs slipped into place, I finally understood how I was supposed to sit. I’ve been pressing my thighs up to the padded spot on the all purpose saddle, so it’s been giving me a chair seat no matter what I try to do. Understanding that my legs hang more “down” realllllllyyy cleared up a lot. Now I know how my upper inner thigh rests against the saddle, instead of me contorting my hip socket around to try and get it and hold it there.
I bought a V headband with a classy line of rhinestones embedded in it to make my bridle all pretty for when I show. With that on my bridle, my bridle looks exactly like a $500 bridle I saw for sale. Pretty cool.
My trainer and I also had a talk about how I get too hard on myself in lessons. We made a deal that I would just go with the flow in lessons, and let her worry about what I am doing wrong. I can be hard on myself when I work out instead.
Soooooo, fast forward to today. It felt like any other day, as I got ready at home and drove to the stable. I was hoping I would at least do a little better. The lesson before me was still tacking up when I got there, so I hung out a bit and talked to some people there. Then it was time to get my horse and tack up.
I rode around at a walk, but not very long, because I had told myself in the car that “I won’t learn how to do anything just walking around”. As soon as I pressed her sides to get the trot going, she did her “I don’t wanna, I’m gonna toss my head and walk in circles and be a little pain today”. Yea? Well I saw horses at the show that didn’t feel like doing anything, and I saw what those riders did. I was sick of having to kick that mare to get her to go, so I took my loose reins and popped her.
Now, I don’t know how to pop a horse, so what actually happens in this process is I whip my hand and somehow the noise transfers to her ears. But anyway, I showed her (mostly my hand) who was boss, and she was like a different horse. “Yes, Ma’am, let’s work!” It’s way easier to balance on a horse when it GOES instead of stopping short and tossing her head and changing up her speed. I never realized what a brat she was, because I thought it was my fault so I let her get away with it. Over the entire lesson, whenever she started her little “I don’t wanna” dance, I would pop her, smack my hand in the process-doh, and she would go back to doing what I told her to.
AND WE TROTTED! We didn’t just saunter at a nice jog trot, nay, we TROTTED. I kept her little butt moving. Another difference today was that I realized I had never fallen backward. Whenever I’ve lost my balance, I’ve fallen forward. So I leaned more back today (so I was straight, not leaning back back) and that let my weight finally balance all the way down through my heels. I was able to relax. Can you believe it? Relax while I trotted! Yay! Even when she would decide to be a little pain and toss her head around out of nowhere and throw her shoulders forward, I was able to balance and pop her, and we kept going.
I know I’m bringing up the popping a lot, but it was a huge revelation to me to take charge. I hadn’t had the confidence to before, but I realized just how much I was letting the horse screw with me. I just needed her to do her job so I could learn mine. She was happy doing her job too. Her ears were perked forward, and I could feel her having fun just moving forward. She even respected me enough that when we were coming to a fence, I could feel her asking me which way to go, instead of just deciding which way she thought we might go.
So, today was just awesome. I ended up trotting in circles and figure 8s, diagonals, everything. I took charge of my horse. I told my trainer “I just don’t want to look like those people. I know it will take me awhile to stop flopping around..” and she said “You’re not flopping around, you’ve got a strong leg and seat” And I was like “AHHHHHHHMAHGAWD!”
My trainer said she would give me this week to keep getting secure in the trot, and then next week she is going to start working on details.
I’m so happy.
I hope when I ride a horse with a bigger trot that I’ll do as good. This mare is pretty smooth. I’ve moved my lessons up to three days a week instead of two. That should help me get better!