I had a pretty lackluster birthday lesson last night. I was distracted, I guess. Work has been tense and stressful for me lately and I am frustrated with my inability to fix it. Last week was brought to you by the letter “D” for displaced anger. Don’t worry, no equines were harmed, my anger just tends to manifest in the extreme urge to say/do horribly passive aggressive things to coworkers. And road rage, lots of vocal road rage. I need a better outlet…
I am usually pretty good at leaving life outside of the arena but didn’t do a great job of it last night. I wasn’t worrying over things or in my own head, I just wasn’t focused and kept making dumb mistakes and getting frustrated too easily if something got hard.
In our warm up my trainer had to remind me to still my body which I was letting gyrate all over the place. I know better. Then we got started with some circles at the walk focusing on straightness so he was stepping up into the turn but not falling out the outside. This exercise started us out on a better note and things were looking great! Lou was getting nice and light in the reins and bending around my leg. We schooled leg yield a little at the walk and got some really good steps. He trotted nicely and we did some walk-trot transitions to keep things light and responsive. He had a stretch and then I picked up the trot going left and here’s where the whole thing started to crumble. Trainer asked me to pick up a left lead canter and instead of putting him back together and making sure he was balanced and on my aids I just threw the request at him in the next corner and we displayed what could only have been the most pathetic, slow, running, falling trot-canter transition ever. I knew. I tried to tell myself that I got the canter, and that was what mattered! No. Trainer was like, No.
She said constructive things but the tone was more in the “really?! we’re THERE today? really?!” category. The shame. I nodded as she calmly explained in fluffier words how “if your trot is shit and you do nothing to fix it and then ask for canter, guess what kind of canter you will get?!” Last week I figured out how to ride the right side so he didn’t even get heavy in the left rein. I thought I had finally solved the puzzle and in my excitement, I promptly forgot everything. So after that awful canter he got really heavy in the left rein, I pulled, he chuckled and got heavier and then I played an idiots game of tug-o-war for the next 10 min while my trainer stood quietly in the middle internally wondering why I brought my C-game to today’s lesson. I could tell she was letting me work it out for myself and seeing if maybe the blind squirrel would eventually stumble upon a nut, meanwhile I was just up there shoving my left hip towards my outside rein and praying for a miracle.
Louie was happily plugging along completely counter bent and so heavy in the left that I couldn’t turn left even if I tried. I tried a few things: did some shit transitions; made some not-round circles; tried to play with the bit, give and take a little more to stop the pulling; came pretty close to just stopping and giving up completely but really just doing a whole lot of nothing. Circus music played. Exhausted from watching the struggle bus spin its wheels in the deep mud, trainer throws out the obvious life preserver and suggests perhaps riding BOTH sides of the horse. What a novel idea! She calmly states that I appear to be working extremely hard on the left side of my body to make something happen but just letting my right side dangle there limply. YES!!!! I silently scream, indignant. I want to turn left, and I want him to bend left, so Hulk smash LEFT!!!! More shame.
Wouldn’t you know, the second I stopped riding like a stroke victim, he got light again, no more pulling, and better bend. We ended with some canter work that was probably the best canter stuff I have delivered in a long while. I think my trainer was as surprised as I was. I don’t know where it came from, either!
Then I got home and my friends had decorated my garage door while I was at my lesson. So sweet. ❤