The beginning of my first lesson was quite embarrassing. Alfredo asked what level we were riding, I said Training just moving up to First. He said he'd watch us warm up for a few minutes, so I started walking Taran around on a loose rein. Naturally, he went to full-on giraffe mode while I futilely asked him to pay attention and consider walking long and low. Alfredo called us over, and then proceeded to ask me basic questions like which rein was the inside rein and how did I ask for bend. Talk about feeling like a noob. He had me shorten my reins WAY up, take my inside hand out about a foot from his neck to ask for bend, and off we went.
The main themes of the first day were:
- SHORTER REINS. Seriously. I felt like my reins were about 6 inches long but after looking at the video, they were fine. My regular trainer is on me all the time about shorter reins, and I think I get the idea of just how short they really need to be now!
- Don't give up the contact. Alfredo had me put the reins where I wanted them and then push Taran up into it. As he put it, imagine you are side reins, the horse has to give to you, not the other way around. I am definitely guilty of throwing the contact away, and it's also something my trainer calls me on a lot. I had a lot more contact than I usually have... not sure how I feel about that, although I was able to lighten up as the weekend went on and Taran got with the program more.
- Slow down. I need this tattooed on Taran's ears. Fast is not forward. I KNOW this, but I don't always ride this. Sloooooowwwww dooooooowwwwwwwwnnnnn.
- Don't quit too soon. Another thing my trainer says to me all the time. Wait till you have it, then wait a few steps more until you're SURE you have it. Then walk and reward. I have a bad habit of going "hey look we are together!" and then I throw the contact away and/or quit riding. Not terribly effective.
- Round and deep. This was a theme all weekend. At times I felt like we were too deep (that is, BTV), but again, looking at the video he's really just deep in his neck. Keeping his neck down is something we've been working on, so maybe this is just the slightly more extreme version of what I've been asking for at home?
More rounder. More deeper. And to the left, too!
After trotting for a short time and following Alfredo's instructions ("More bend! MORE! Inside LEG! Deeper! Yes, beautiful!"), he called for a walk break and mumbled something like, "Oh, you actually CAN ride" before moving on to change directions. I felt like I'd made up a little bit for our awful start, since I was able to put Taran together with his instructions. We actually talked a little bit about that, and I said that I ride much better when I have someone telling me what to do. He said that I need to be more demanding of my horse, and hold myself accountable for every transition, every turn, every step. And he's right.
Taran objects to how hard this was. I objected too, by whining about how out-of-shape I am.
We also discussed rider fitness. He said that I was really quite strong (!?!?!) but that I need to up my cardio if I want to progress. This is something I've been thinking about recently, so I need to figure out a program to improve.
We look fancy and engaged, but maybe a bit stuffed and tense? Thoughts? (Yes, I need to get my shoulders back. Dammit.)
I was super excited about my first lesson - we made some major breakthroughs and although he said exactly the same things my regular trainer says, he was just more demanding and in turn I rode better. I also had a lot to think about in terms of my riding and how Taran goes when I change it up. No pi/pa, but we still had two days to go!