I’ve just returned from a trip to the tundra of Minnesota, which was largely perfect other than there being a distinct lack of Choface for the week. After 2 months of being on our own, I daydreamed about being able to bring her with so I could have a “check up” lesson with Kt. Sadly, horses are not terribly portable, so a daydream that remains.
There have been a few major turning points in moving Cholula to a barn where I am riding by myself most of the time.
1. Not only am I capable of riding and exercising Cho, I am capable of improving her and continuing her training.
I really am in a place where riding with occasional instruction is ok (not ideal, but not the end of the world). Cholula has honestly improved in all things in the past 2 months, from her lateral work to her canter. She has a half-pass (with me! And not just a professional!) in both directions. Sometimes she has clear and smooth canter to walk transitions. Pirouettes look like pirouettes.
2. My instincts are usually correct.
This is something that comes with time and experience. And sometimes I may not have the best solution to a problem (because while my toolbox is looking more full all of the time, there is still A LOT of extra room in there), but in general I can feel what is going on and come up with at least something to do to work out of it. Sometimes this means going back to absolute basic things like forward, forward, forward…but we get there.
Case in point: before my trip, her canter on the right lead was obnoxiously up and down. Every time she picked it up. To the left? Completely normal. To the right? It’s like she was anticipating having to do a 10m circle immediately and rather than collecting she just decided to pogo around. It was frustrating and I didn’t really know what to do, so I just made her GO. Go large, go forward, GO. I didn’t care about the quality as long as it was forward and not…vertical.
I was watching Kt ride Cho’s bff while I was back in town, and the mare pulled similar antics (it’s her specialty, and she does it far more dramatically than Cho is capable of). I mentioned Cho’s “up and down” canter, and Kt’s answer? “Gallop her the hell out of it.”
3. I have been able to hold myself accountable more.
I think this one is interesting, in that even living in Minnesota and taking regular lessons, the majority of my rides were still by myself. So why did it take a move across the country, away from the person who has spent so much time and effort teaching me, to ride like I mean it every single time? To resort to problem-solving rather than frustration?
4. That pile of Dressage Today magazines may actually be worthwhile now!
I enjoyed my couple of years of paging through the magazine while I was a subscriber, but everything seemed so far away, so NOT what we were working on, and so foreign. I understood very few of the articles and I stopped reading it.
A friend posted an article from DT about developing the extended trot yesterday. I read it. I CAN DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS. I AM DOING THOSE EXERCISES TONIGHT. I HAVE A PLAN. I CAN TAKE ARTICLES ON HOW TO TRAIN PONIES AND APPLY THEM TO MY RIDING.
…More than before, anyway. I won’t be hanging up my “Will Train Horz 4 Rent” sign anytime soon, but Cholula Mae and I seem to make a pretty ok team.