Monday, 23 May 2016
After only my second proper lesson with Claire, I'm already so excited about the potential for the rest of the year! Since my last lesson two weeks prior, Pea's not done a lot due to me having to do more hours at work. All he had done was lunge three times, one hack and one schooling session (where the only arguments came in canter so major progress!).
I popped him on the lunge first to get him moving forwards and knowing what I expect from him. Without realising, I tend to let Pea go at a mediocre pace on the lunge so it's good learning that I need to get after him a bit more and seeing what he can produce! We spent quite a while on the right rein as he was a bit slow at getting moving. After a good few trots and canters we came back to walk and then ended up having another cycle of walk-trot-walk when he broke into trot rather than giving a better walk. A couple of times were a simple misunderstanding when I flicked the whip a bit too much so Claire explained that when I want a bit more of a walk on the lunge then it's a good idea to gently roll the whip so it slides a bit over the arena but doesn't create too much motion which he would interpret as going up a gear. Swapping onto the left rein and Pea was much quicker at reacting and went really well so we didn't spend as long on this rein.
I then popped on board and we kept on the lunge as it means that I can work on using my seat more and getting him forward but Claire's there for a bit of back up. He went really well in walk and trot and we had a few canters. I tend to tense in canter and have tight hips so without realising, I end up digging my spur in. This causes Pea to tense and buck as it's his way of saying that he doesn't like that. Claire said that if Pea was a sharp horse I would have worked out straight away that it was my spurs causing the issue but as Pea is a bit more of a backward thinker and backs off the spur it wasn't obvious that that was the issue.
Once we took the spurs off, he was a lot more relaxed and not quite as tense in the canter. We finished it not long after as he worked really well and was starting to tire which would cause more issues if we pushed him.
A week later and I had another lesson. This time we popped indoors as when I first popped him on the lunge the pollen was causing him a few issues. He's currently on a supplement which is, hopefully, helping to calm it a bit but as with any hayfever sufferer, some days are better than others! He was much quicker off the mark today than what he has been and is really starting to learn that once we start work he has to move forwards. We didn't spend much time lunging first before popping on board, again still on the lunge.
We're now progressing to me giving him a sharp aid with the whip if he's not being as responsive to my leg as he should be. Before, he normally backs off from the whip and instead of reacting to it the correct way, ie by going forwards, he'd stop and buck more! Claire explained that he needs to respond to it as though it was an annoying fly rather than a horse trying to bite him. If' it's a sharp tap, like a fly, then he'll respond by moving away but if it's an annoying smack then he'll react as though it's a horse biting him and so retaliate. Pea's getting a lot better and moving forward when I want him to now but Claire's noticed that I'm tight in my hips which isn't allowing Pea to move forward as much as he should be.
She asked me to drop my feet from the stirrups and explained that the tightness is coming from my lower back. If I relax there, then my hips will open up and my seat bones will be looser. She moved my legs around, putting them in front of the saddle, before letting them drop naturally so they hung loose at the side of Pea. This helped to loosen my lower back and hips and felt a lot different. We practised keeping this position round in walk and compared it to if I tense in my back where you could tell the difference. When I tensed, Pea shortened his stride and slowed, but as soon as I released he softened and stretched out more. We took my stirrups back and rather than having my stirrups on the ball of my feet properly, I end up having them more just behind my toes which causes me to grip with my toes and therefore hard to keep my feet in the correct position. By moving them back slightly, it was much easier to keep loose in my lower back and use my leg effectively without turning my feet out and using the back of my foot.
We practised in each gait with me staying loose and contrast to what happens if I tense so I'm aware for when I'm on my own. We had a small buck in canter on the right rein where my saddle slipped so he reacted to me tensing for it. Claire explained that I wasn't sitting centrally and Pea didn't help by pushing me more to the outside. Once we came back to walk, I sat straighter and focussed on pushing my outside shoulder back so balance Pea better. When we tried the canter again, it was a lot more balanced and my saddle didn't move.
Now, we've just got to keep putting it to practise when we're on our own!
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Somehow it has come to the middle of May and I've not written my monthly review! How is time flying so fast?!
April bought many questions and if I'm honest, I seriously started to doubt whether to continue pushing with Pea or whether it was time to think about selling or loaning him. Numerous people also told me that maybe it was time to let him go to a new home and find something I could go out and do what I wanted on. However, I want to say a massive thank you to those who told me what a stupid idea that was and pushed me to keep trying!
After having an impromptu lesson with someone (read about it here), May is bringing a new change with regular lessons and a fresh outlook on how to handle Pea. We're now getting him going a lot more forward and relaxing so that he doesn't feel the need to stop and be quite so opinionated all the time!
Fingers crossed that May's review will bring better behaviour!!
Thanks for reading,
Thursday, 5 May 2016
We started out by popping him on the lunge for ten minutes with Claire starting on one rein to explain what we were after and I took over for the second rein. As he had gone well on the Sunday but still had a couple of stops, Claire thought it would be a good idea to pop him on the lunge first to get him going and learn that that's what we're after. It's good to see how she gets him going on the lunge as I think I tend to let him go at a more mediocre pace rather than getting after him and make him really work.
I then popped on board and walked round a bit. She emphasised the importance of me letting my legs just hang and give him short, sharp squeezes and get a reaction from that. Without realising, I tend to keep my leg on which he ends up switching off to. When I then squeeze him forward, he should react straight away and when he doesn't, he gets a sharp tap from the whip to emphasise that he needs to move. Pea can be a quick learner and so he did give a great walk which was miles different to his normal work! The only issue with him is that he can also be reactive so if he decides to object to the whip, that's when we have the stops and stomps!
We then progressed to trot and he had a mini moment of 'do I trot or stop' but luckily realised trotting was the better answer! After a few rounds, Claire asked how I would feel about riding him round on the lunge. After never having done this I was slightly worried as it's a very weird thing feeling like I'm giving up control and a bit sceptical in case anything happened. However, it was actually a really good learning curve for me as Pea went into a great trot that is vastly different from his normal trot and we even had some canters where I actually learnt to relax. Normally, I tense in the canter forever expecting him to buck, which of course, doesn't help! When we swapped to the right rein, I mentioned how I felt rather unbalanced in the trot so we came back to halt and Claire explained that he tends to lean a bit and pushes me to the outside. This causes my left hip to drop and my right hip to over-compensate which is why I feel off balance and as though I'm on a motorbike. We worked on me pushing my outside shoulder back a bit and imagining that I was pushing my left elbow into my ribs. I felt that this really helped and the trot felt so much better. We then did a quick comparison and it's amazing the difference I felt.
We finished the lesson there as he had worked incredibly hard and it's always a good idea to finish on a good note. I now have another lesson booked in for next week which I'm rather looking forward to now!
Thanks for reading,