Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another lesson, another saddle

A week and a half ago, I posted about getting back in the saddle finally having a riding lesson after a lot of time off this winter due to being sick and the weather being poor.  For that lesson I rode Rondo.

Today I had another lesson -- overdue a week because of some other commitments that conflicted with my lesson last week -- and this time I got back in the other saddle and rode Panama.

I wasn't originally planning on riding Panama for my lesson.  I haven't ridden him in weeks, perhaps a month, and I was worried he would be too fired up about finally being ridden.  Panama genuinely likes being ridden, and gets restless if I don't ride him at least a couple of times a week.  Not riding him at all for even a couple of weeks would normally turn my normally very forward Arab pony into a hyper mess.

I don't like to deal with that during a lesson, so I was intending to ride Rondo during my lesson and get Pan's wiggles out on my own time.  Pan has been insulted that Rondo has been getting out and he hasn't, though, so he was standing at the gate waiting for me and giving me expectant puppy eyes when I walked up with Rondo's halter.  (Rondo, on the other hand, was standing back over by the shelter, hiding behind the other two horses, and undoubtedly crossing his hooves that I wouldn't pick him.)  It's hard to say no to Panama when he obviously wants the attention so badly, so I went back for his halter and tacked him up instead.

I told him as I was tacking up that he'd better not make me regret picking him, and he didn't!  He was actually very well behaved for the entire lesson.  Habits that he has even when he is being ridden regularly -- rushing up to jumps, for instance -- were conspicuously absent today.  He was a little rusty on some cues -- not responding to leg yields well at first, and it took us a few tries before he'd submit to shortening his stride to add one in before the jump, rather than lengthening to get up to the jump as he prefers (and I hate) -- and he shied at the jumps a few times when my trainer first set up the bounce line, as the poles were set up in a fashion that he'd never seen before.  It took a few attempts in each direction, but eventually we got through it!

All in all, Panama did a great job today, and our last few jumps -- once we had ironed out all the snags -- turned out really good!

I also noticed something else.  My trainer was much more complimentary this time about my position, and said that I wasn't rounding my back over the poles the way I was when we did canter poles with Rondo during my last lesson.  I haven't ridden since that last lesson, so it's unlikely I've just improved.  I'm willing to bet that I'm more used to how Panama moves, and therefore I can keep my position and move with him better, and/or I'm less confident on Rondo and rounding my back in a defensive posture.  This means two things to me: that I know how to do it right (which is actually reassuring to me), and also that I probably just need some more practice on Rondo.  Panama and I have a lot of hours under saddle together, and since he's pretty much the only horse I've ever jumped, I know his way of moving almost as well as I know my own.  Rondo, however, I haven't really ridden all that much, especially in the two-point, and I'm not as familiar with his rhythm or how he moves at each gait -- and those canter poles a week and a half ago were the closest I've come to jumping him as of yet!

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