Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lesson Time

Had a lesson today on Arya.  Not my first, by a long stretch and not really her first, but our first together.  And she hasn't spent much time in an arena, so I was concerned with how it would go.  But other than not wanting to trot, and not loving standing still (though she got much better at it by the end), she did great.

It was 2 1/2 hours total, with the first half focused on groundwork, so she wore the saddle, but no bridle:

We worked on leading nicely, stopping when I stop, and backing up when I back up.  The last one was the hardest for her--she knows how to back up, but when you're walking well ahead of her, asking her to keep a "bubble" of space between us, and then expect her to back up just because you do, she doesn't get it.  She figures I'm just backing up to come back to be next to her so I can rub on her and pet her or something.  So it involved a bit of "hazing" with the rope to get her to understand.  She did okay.  We also did a bit of lateral work, like moving her haunches over.  It was good work.

Then we mounted up.  First we had to just stand there while the instructor talked, which Arya was NOT a fan of.  Getting on means getting moving, usually.  So it was good for her to learn this lesson.  Then we all walked and practiced one-rein stops (use contact with just one rein to turn horse until they come to a stop).  Arya is a champ at this--clearly her previous owner worked hard with her on this.  And she's lazy, which helps.  Shar and Flash had a harder time with this exercise, because he's more athletic and amped up--he just spun in littler and littler circles, without actually stopping his feet.  :-)

Then most of us stood while one person at a time went through a course the instructor set out.  We had to trot through four trot poles, make a circle, then return to the walk.  Uh oh, here goes.  Not sure whether Arya's dealt with trot poles (though I hand-walked her through them during the groundwork portion, and she has been WELL broke to deal with stuff on, around, and under her feet).  And she doesn't love trotting in an arena.

For the first go, I just trotted her beside the trot poles, attempted to keep her at the trot through the circle, was complimented on my use of just one rein in the circle, and then gave up when she started walking halfway around the circle  But she did better than I expected, honestly!

The second time, I walked her across the poles, and she did great.

The third time, I attempted to trot her over the poles, and she had a rough time finding the right spots to put her feet, came to a halt, and we walked the rest of the way through.  Oops.

But really, not too bad for a horse that hasn't spent much time in an arena, especially lately.

We then worked on some lateral work and two-point (I couldn't get Arya to trot more than a couple strides, so that was pretty much a bust.

The instructor has a thing with her lessons where the riders are supposed to back their horses up the hill out of the arena (from the ground, not riding)--it's good for their backs, plus probably helps the attitude that leaving the arena is great fun.  :-)  So that was an interesting exercise, then it was back to the trailer, blankets back on the ponies, and home again.

It was a nice ride on a nice day!  Shar and I both hope to go back again soon, her with both Flash and her greenie, Goodwin, and both of us might potentially take lunge line lessons (you ride without reins while the instructor controls the horse on a lunge line).  She'd take them on Flash, but I'm not sure Arya's consistent enough for that, so I'd probably ride one of the instructor's horses.  It's really good to focus on your own riding (including balance) without worrying about controlling the horse.

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