It’s finally happened. Understanding. I was high on cloud 9 and it was feeling pretty darn close to perfection. I rode last night and had my first official “lesson” with my trainer’s girlfriend, to be known here on out as my instructor. Can I just say, I was up until almost 11:00 last night replaying my lesson over and over in my head because I was so freaking excited! A lot of things clicked last night. Finally. I’ve gotten so much good advice online from so many helpful bloggers, but I realize now that I must only be able to comprehend stuff when someone is there “yelling” at me. There in the moment to tell me NOW, DO THIS, or whatever. Heck, apparently I didn’t even get it when my trainer was telling me what to do last year. I think part of that was because I was so focused on my crazy girl (because she was crazy and I was still nervous) instead of what I personally was trying to do.
I found out last night that I was basically doing everything opposite of what works. And when I changed everything, I actually did a CIRCLE!!! Not a hexagon or square or arc with jagged edges, but a true actual circle!! I was ecstatic. If I could have kissed the instructor, I would have. Reminds me of the Meat Loaf (I think) song……..(it’s all coming back to me now). lol I think the major difference was that I actually let myself sound (to me) “stupid.” What do I mean by that? Well, first off, when my trainer was giving me instruction while he was training my horse, I really think he was focused on training Sassie, which is fine, that’s what he was being paid to do, and wasn’t really conveying his thoughts clearly enough for me to understand. I don’t fault him, it was really me. If I asked more then like twice, I would just kind of give up if he didn’t correct me anymore. So I think it was more of lack of communication on his part and understanding on my part. In any case, I am HAPPY to say, that I think last nights lessons will have fixed many of our issues.
When we first started, she said ok, what do you want to work on? I told her whatever she saw that I was doing wrong. lol I’m not one of those people who thinks they ride perfect and don’t you dare tell me otherwise. Heck no!! I’m of the mind that if you see something that I may not be doing right, tell me. Then if it’s something I can fix that I really am doing wrong, then great. If it’s something that I was specifically told to do, then I’ll say thanks and go about my merry way. I WANT to know if my legs are too far forward. I WANT to know if my saddle is on my girls shoulders and should be further back. I want to know things like that because I definitely don’t know everything. And apparently even less than I had originally thought! She said that I sit very well and don’t change anything with that. She only said to sit back a little because when Sassie balks, I fall forward and then we are unbalanced. Which this I knew and I know I have to work on it. I’ve been trying to work on it for a year now because trainer harped on that. lol It’s hard for me to sit back, but sit straight tall. I tend to lean forward when I think I’m sitting up straight. I don’t know how to fix that, but I’ll keep trying. I have such bad posture to begin with.
First thing she tells me to do is tip my girls nose in. After the third time of her telling me to tip her nose in because her body follows her nose, I stop. I’m like ok, I give up. I think I’m tipping her nose in, but she’s still not doing what she’s supposed to be doing and you keep telling me to do it. What am I doing wrong? Well that turned out to be THE big question of the night because the answer fixed just about everything. I was doing completely opposite of what I should have been. I’m not going to go into details because I’m sure everyone else knows how to tip their horse’s nose in but me! But now I do. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? As soon as she explained HOW to do it and how doing it keeps her shoulder from falling in, everything made sense, even though I should have known because everyone on here AND my trainer had already told me the exact same thing. I just didn’t know how to tip her nose in!! What to do with my hands. We were off and running in a way we hadn’t been since the start of our training. Then we did circles. YAY!!!! (For the sake of space and not boring you all to death, I’m leaving out some stuff) We accomplished in one hour what I had been missing in a year. We worked on trying to keep Sassie from pushing her head forward and pulling on the bit, we worked on using my legs more, we worked on feel and counting. Feel and counting are my worst area. She was counting while Sassie was jogging and I could not feel anything that matched up to what she was counting. So we are going to definitely work more on that.
I told her how Sassie’s left side is weak, always has been. Even with my trainer, we always had trouble doing stuff on her left side. I told instructor that I had gotten advice on how to strengthen it so that when she lopes, we aren’t all out of wack because she can’t physically do what I’m asking. That led to the next best thing since sliced bread. After we were jogging around and instructor said yes, everyone telling you to work more on the left side will strengthen it, she said let’s lope! lol. I was like okie dokie. She wanted to see how Sas did to the right first, and of course as usual, everything went ok. She’s good on that side. So she said let’s go to the left now. By that time, Sassie was worked up because she knows we were going to be loping. Instructor said ok, slow her down, keep her at a trot and MAKE her listen to you because her head is already fast forwarding to loping. And it was. We were all over the place. Body was trying to go one way, head was going the other, she was balking, she was cutting in, and basically everything she could do to not lope. So instructor said keep jogging until she is calmed down and you are all set up. Support her shoulder. Now I know when we were practicing loping with the trainer, he would keep mentioning about keeping her shoulder up, support it and keep her head tipped in because it would set her up. I’ve heard many other bloggers talk about it too. My problem was that I didn’t know how to achieve that. I now do, at least have an idea. And when we went to lope to the left, Sassie gave what I always thought was a buck, but it isn’t. Instructor said no, that’s her pushing herself into the lope. She kind of hops into it. It was really good. I was like okayyyy, now I know.
So that is essentially it. Our major breakthrough. And I couldn’t be happier. Instructor was majorly impressed with Miss Sassie and how she handled all this new stuff. At one point instructor told me that my head was probably going to explode. I laughed and told her no, SASSIE’s head is going to explode!! Instructor saw most of Sassie’s training because she was at the barn working with another horse, and she said it’s good that I’ve been working with Sassie and we must have a good relationship because she thinks if it had been at the beginning when we were first training her, we would have been having major meltdowns and Sassie would have just shut down. But she was very willing last night to “try” to do anything that I was “trying” to ask of her. Which was a lot considering I didn’t even know ½ the time. My poor horse. I feel bad now. I’ve probably been torturing her for this whole past year!!
*** Oh, and Andrea (swampsuburbia), instructor trains with Art O’Brien (?) at Findlay. I don’t know if you know him, or Cindy Moorehead. She’s friends with her. You had asked who is down there and that’s who she trains with :) Who did you know?
***And P.S. – I figured out I can type all of this up and copy and past so that I’m only online for a few minutes at my lunch. Muuahahaha!! So I will perhaps be posting again more often, much to your chagrin :) I had to get this post out asap because how stinking excited I am, so I am working on a post about my goodies that I’ve received (my awesome handmade hat and my DIY bandages for the kiddies) So, be back soon!!!