Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I've signed MYSELF up for full training

Earlier this year, T was in full training - at a barn 2.5 hours away - to learn changes. Unfortunately, during that time he made huge leaps in his skillset, while I languished at home catching rides where I could. When I brought him back home, we quickly reverted to our old habits and while I could play with some of the new buttons, it was clear I wasn't doing it "right".

Sitting so far right I might slide off to the outside.

Sadly, my old trainer moved back to VA (she comes back for clinics, but that's not enough), so I asked for a recommendation for someone near me. There's a USDF gold medalist about 45 minutes away, and after a couple of lessons I discovered that her teaching style really works for me. I started hauling up for weekly lessons, and when I was gone for a week, he stayed with her and got a few training rides in.

Unless you're doing haunches in on a circle (we weren't), pretty sure that's not where the haunches should be.

And let me tell you, there's nothing like getting on your exceptionally well-schooled horse and have him be like "dafuq, lady?!?!?" to make you realize just how many things you are doing wrong. Stuff that I've known about and worked on  for years, but have never really fixed, like:

  • My horse isn't actually through/over his back. Like pretty much ever.
  • Whichever leg isn't actively working hangs there uselessly like a dead fish. This is a problem when trying to do changes and half pass and TOH a bunch of other things, who knew?
  • Your thighs are actually useful when riding - if you use them.
  • My hands are way too high and have a tendency to cross the crest, not to mention pulling
  • I sit in my right seatbone way harder than my left
  • I let the shoulders and haunches escape, which results in all sorts of things being way harder than they should or altogether impossible
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

You know you've REALLY lost the outside shoulder when the front feet start to cross over

After my demoralizing - yet incredibly eye-opening - lesson, where my hands would not stay put and I could not prevent T falling out on his right shoulder, I mulled over my options. I work on all these things at home but without mirrors and constant reminders, I quickly fall into my old habits. Taran isn't getting any younger, and he's got this Cushings thing working against him too. Plus, I've never had the time/money/horse/trainer combination where I could really work on me, and... well, right now I do. A little chatting with the ever-supportive husband, plus my trainer, and I decided that there's no time like the present to dive in and make it happen.

Better, but shoulder still too far to the outside.

So I've signed myself up for full training. Five lessons a week, every morning before work at 6 a.m. I'm up about 4:45, quickly dress and get some chai to go, then leave by 5 for my 45 minute drive. I ride, then stuff T full of (sugar-free) cookies and hand him off to the groom for hosing and such, because I have to rush to make it to my 8 a.m. meetings. 

FINALLY, I manage to keep all the body parts together in this one corner. WHEW! Now, about the rest of that circle...

I miss spending barn time, but my riding is improving by leaps and bounds. Every ride is incredibly productive, and because I have constant  reminders, my position and use of my aids are starting to change and stay that way for more than a moment. 

Also the canter is getting better

I can now recognize when body parts aren't where they should be, and am slowly learning how to fix them in less than half a circle. I'm getting a better feel for what "throughness" really is and feels like (it's incredible and T feels like he's 17hh), and have more tools to make it happen, instead of being half-assed about it or giving up entirely and saying it's "good enough". I'm also starting to expect more from myself and T and holding us both more accountable, because someone is holding me more accountable.

I love the downward TX where she's like "whoops, no, BAD RIDER". Bad rider, indeed! No cookie!

Have you ever done full training for yourself? If you could, what would you want to work on most?