With everything that's happened this year, I really haven't given much thought to making any kind of horsey plans in a long, long time. Heck, I feel weird making plans two weeks in advance.
But, now I have a Paddington. Paddington can Do Things. Sure, he’s got holes in his training the size of one of those Mexican sinkholes. Did you know he can jump 3' but doesn't know how to do trot poles, or even just trot up to a jump and trot away from it? Or that he can canter from a walk but not from a trot? Whoops.
Objects in image may not be entirely representative of actual size of training issue.
But the only way we can fix those training holes is to actually get on and ride consistently, and work on strengthening and suppling exercises so that he CAN do those things. Lessons help too, because while I can bumble along on my own for lots of things, there's nothing better than competent eyes on the ground. So that means I need to figure out some sort of "program."
Over the summer, I was taking lessons from my H/J instructor, as well as from a very good dressage instructor. The H/J instructor can be hard to schedule with because she doesn't teach much in the evenings during the week, and she's often gone on the weekends to shows. But the lessons I do get from her are golden, so I sneak them in whenever I can. The dressage instructor is easier to schedule with and closer to me, plus there's a covered arena to ride in. So we're going to try to get weekly lessons with her, as often as we can.
Of course it's the rainy season too, which means the trails and fields we usually ride in are closed. Unfortunately, that leaves road work as our only option for most rides, unless we haul out. While I admit that riding up and down the road (.8 miles round trip, in case you're curious) isn't super fun, you can actually get in a lot of work. Here's what my rides have been focusing on:
- Lap 1: walk warm-up
- Lap 2: trot, focusing on steady rhythm. Paddy's preferred trot is this huge rushy park trot, so we are working on long and low and slow.
- Lap 3: Shoulder fore and leg yields at the walk and trot.
- Lap 4: More laterals at the trot, interspersed with walk/halt transitions.
- Lap 5: walk cool-down
Sometimes Red goes with us for company.
And wouldn't you know, now that we've been working on things consistently, he's getting much, much better. The trot is so much steadier. The canter is... um, let's not talk about that. We've had a few jumping lessons and he's improved 1000% between each one. And the dressage lessons... wow. If we can get the canter together, I'm going to have a super nice dressage horse.
So, I have cobbled together a Program that fits my schedule and that of my instructors. It's not as consistent as if I boarded at a show barn, but it's what we can make work. I've even got some goals for 2014, which I'll share soon.
And most importantly, I'm having FUN. Because that's the whole point of this, right? :)