Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Does it still count as a learning experience if you stay *on* the horse?

My editor once told me a story should have a point.  I'm not sure I always agree with that, but for those who do the point is simple: my pony was awesome!   The end.

The longer version isn't much different -- just longer :)   In review, I decided on Sun to take Lexi to a clinic I knew nothing about with a clinician I'd never heard of.  Brilliant.  But I liked the idea of the clinic and was disappointed I wasn't going to get to see the Tuesday version, so decided I'd give this a go.

My last post reviewed how much longer everything takes for the first couple outings of the season; fortunately I had the *very* civilized ride time of noon.  This gave lots of time for the silliness that just happens...  

And sure enough, I went to hook up my trailer and it was like this:

Booooo.  It has to be *on* the block for my truck to fit under it...   Laura and I deemed we couldn't lift it, or even move it slightly *sigh*   But fortunately Frank could!  hahaha he lifted it up so I could slide the block back underneath and we were good to go :)  As far as unexpected delays go, it really wasn't too bad...

Quickly got Lexi ready.  Her braids were embarrassingly atrocious -- the only thing worse would've been her completely wild unbraided mane.  But it was made up for it with the ever-important stunning tail *g*  Which, I'll admit, I even wrapped before leaving.  I don't think I've ever actually used a tail wrap before, but I know how nervous she is about trailering so...  Why not ;)  Pony loaded like a prostar -- but then promptly had a meltdown once she was on.  So I headed out quickly in hopes she would settle and the drive was uneventful.

Unloading, however, I genuinely thought she might flip the trailer :(   Was trying to figure out how I could safely get her out alone when Becky arrived.  "You were gone for long enough, I thought I should come make sure you were both still alive."  hahaha Yeah for extra hands!  With her, had Lexi off and calmer in seconds.

Stalls were in the arena, which was awesome from my pov as it gave Lexi an hour to settle in the arena I was going to ride in.  Pretty sweet.  Kitty's lesson was just starting when we got there, so L wasn't even alone in the arena.  She settled pretty much instantly.

So the clinic itself.  Had to wear a funky jacket with bright pink stripes on it.  Have you met me?  ;)  All the other jackets were green, but no, I get the pink one.  Sheesh.  Ah well.  The point, however, was to be able to clearly see any misalignment in position.  Russell also placed a white dot on the back of the saddle and on the middle of Lexi's croup so alignment would be very obvious.

Yes there are pictures, but they're on the other computer so can't get them tonight.   Later :)

It was deemed that I sit quite straight.  Yeah!  I *think* I'm fairly aware of my flaws as a rider, but you don't know what you don't know right?  So there was definitely a moment of hmmmmm I wonder...  

Russell videoed a bit at the beginning -- super high frames/second rate so when we watched it back it played in slow motion.   Had his computer hooked up to a TV screen so we could watch mounted and auditors could see as well.  Really interesting and useful.

He asked what I wanted to work on (I'm quite certain she was the greenest horse of the day by several years).   I said we were mostly there to let her see the world, but if we could get forward and into some form of contact, that'd be wonderful.

Well at about that point, we got all sorts of practice experiencing the world.  MH's three great danes darted in the ring barking.  And here we have why I always have Sasha in the ring with the horses...   I'm not sure Lexi knew exactly what they were (dogs?  odd looking ponies?  giant goats? -- yes she lives with a variety of critters) but she kept it together.   Gave them a good stink-eye and grew a hand or so, but didn't react otherwise.  I was so very impressed.  She was actually far more concerned about the auditors who arrived late with noisy fast-food bags ;)   Those she hasn't seen before!  hahaha

It was interesting to note that when he asked how I felt about the speed, we differed in answer.  I felt she was too slow; he said no - she was moving and tracking up well.  We settled on she was moving but behind the leg, and worked to fix that.We did a lot of work on getting her in front of the leg.  He took my dressage whip away, preferring instead the "pony club kick".  It probably looked fairly ugly, but it worked.  He also focused on my well known bad habit of reins too long *sigh* -- and the video made me cringe, because of course as a coach, when I see it, I know how wrong it is...   And an unknown habit of turning my right wrist slightly.  Totally random, but when I fixed it, it helped.  The other one was "if you cluck, you know she's behind your leg."  Such a simple obvious statement, but absolutely correct.  And an instant auditory clue that I need to solve that problem Right Now.

I was concerned about my recent habit of my legs doing strange and unusual things entirely of their own volition.  He decided I was doing too much to support my horse and that I needed to teach her to carry herself and create her own impulsion and once that happened, my legs would fix themselves.   A little easier said than done, but even within the hour or so a noticeable difference.  So that was a huge relief!   Again, the pony club kick played a big role *g*

Also interesting was he had me do far more with my hands than I'm accustomed to -- but the end result with my horse was fabulous, and on the video it looked like I was doing nothing.  So subtle aids, but more of them.  And how did he pick up on that one?

He got on my horse!   Woohoo!   First time I've seen Lexi ridden.   He asked permission several times -- didn't seem convinced that I actually was totally okay with him getting on.   Rode around for a while -- employed the pony club kick himself.  And shortly she looked like a really impressive horse!   One that could actually go somewhere and do some stuff ;-P
Yup, just like that.  Complete with pretty tail...
Anyways yes, had me fairly stoked for the horse I could have...   When I got back on she still felt the same, but now I had a better idea what I was aiming for -- and I think we got moments of it.  The video seems to imply so.  I know we would've if I'd actually managed to shorten my reins!  Ugh.  This summer's goal -- fix that particular bad habit.  Sheesh.

Have always found the use of video to be particularly beneficial in my own riding.  Forever grateful to friends I manage to bribe to film my schooling even snippits...  So very useful.  So this clinic which incorporated slow-motion video was brilliant for me.  Russel was an excellent coach -- very positive, but with a good eye and reliance on simple basics.

And to round it out, MH's stable manager Becky was super-helpful.  Above and beyond helping me deal with my silly pony and settle in.

So all round an excellent outing.  Photos and maybe video later :)

But I have a lesson tomorrow am, so off for now.


Exact same thing happened to my trailer. ;-) Apparently we had a lot of ice/snow this winter that melted, haha. Thank goodness I have a tractor! ;-) Sounds like it was a productive outing!


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