As you may have gathered from the lack of post, I did not ride on Sunday. Most of New Jersey experienced some crazy winds (I think I heard up to 70 mph in some places?), and my trainer decided that the horses were too riled to ride. Normally I’m quite put out when the weather forces a lesson cancellation, but since breaking my elbow, I was in total agreement that riding was a poor choice. Turned out, it wasn’t just lessons that were cancelled – no one rode that day.
We did reschedule my lesson for today. I was back on Cinnamon and off the lunge, which was nice. As it turns out, my few weeks with Susie doing all that reinless lunge work did wonders for my riding. My shoulders were much more even, my posting was worlds better (from the knee even!), and my leg was excellent. Riding Sue really helped me be more mindful with Cinn, too. Susie is more high-energy and forward than Cinnamon, and because she’s more sensitive to slight changes, I’m more focused on my aids with her. Cinnamon needs that too, but for different reasons. He is a consummate lesson horse, in that he looks for any reason to pull one over on an unsuspecting rider. Cinn isn’t bad, but he’s lazy. Case in point, I learned tonight that if I overlook my turns and my eye off his head, Cinnamon will try to duck out in the opposite direction than I want to go. Figuring that out taught me to make sure I can see at least one ear all the time. Sneaky pony.
All that is to say, my riding was better. Rather than being a passenger (which is my default when I’m focusing on something), I rode that horse every step of the way tonight. Doing a circle? Bend him with the outside leg and catch him with the outside rein if he tries to cut out. Just trotting a long side? Half-halt and send him forward, because his mind wanders and then he pulls shenanigans. My trainer said that my rising trot was better than she’d ever seen it, which is huge. One thing we really did work on was my breathing. I’m what my trainer calls a “conscious breather,” which essentially means that I exhale rather forcefully and it almost makes me sound as though I’m doing lamaze. It also wears me down quickly and makes me out of breath when I really should not be. That said, when I’m thinking about something else, like when someone’s talking to me, I breathe normally. So to help that process along, my trainer asked me to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for two laps around at a rising trot.
With a ring full of about five people. You know, like you do.
The end result of all of that was that we had a really excellent lesson. So excellent, in fact, that I was rewarded with a couple of canter laps at the end of my ride. I haven’t cantered since before my fall, which was at the end of November. And it felt awesome.
On a different note, I realize I talk about riding a lot here. Part of that is because it’s something I’m really actively working on, and part of that is because it happens more or less every week. Reflecting on my lessons is a habit that I think is really helping me improve my riding, and I’m glad I’m doing it.
That said, I also do other things, like knit. I’m hoping to get a post up in a few days explaining my top “Six in Sixteen,” or the six projects I’ve decided I really want to finish before the end of the calendar year. I have plans.