Due to living in Greece for a few years and then getting settled into life here in Washington it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve taken any serious lessons. I mean I wasn’t just a bump on a log plodding along on any horse I could find. (ok not entirely) I ensured I was still reading good books, I was riding dressage and jumping horses and I felt I was doing a great job.
Well as the summer is drawing closer on glorious Whidbey Island, I decided that I really wanted to work on jumping again but my boys are not quite ready yet. They are out of shape. They haven’t worked on much of anything and I didn’t want to jump them right into doing some jumping so I decided to take a few lessons on a lesson horse so I could focus solely on me and not my horse.
Boy oh boy was it a wake up call! I quickly found out 5 things.
1.) I have been riding dressage length way to long. Jumping length is a whole different story now. Talk about thighs burning after only a few minuets in the posting trot! Don’t even get me started on sitting trot.
2.) My right foot wants to point in not out and ends up throwing my whole body off balance and it becomes VERY apparent when asking for trot to canter transitions as I loose my balance I also stiffen my entire body and narrow my hands to brace to stay in the saddle.
3.) I have forgotten what it’s like to ride with good contact on the reins. My boys are ridden either in a side pull or very very light contact. Having a horse that needs more contact to work properly I end up pulling and almost balancing on the reins.
4.) I need to focus on using more abs and less hands when riding in contact.
5.) I need to work on my cardio and strength sessions. I’m getting lazy and as I got tired I would start the dreaded knee pinching to stay balanced!!
So I most assuredly have a few things to work on now. Sometimes I’m like “I’ve been riding for 20 some odd years. I got this figured out. I don’t need no stinking lessons!” And it goes great for a while. I’m saving money. I’m feeling confidant in my riding and I get comfortable but then I start getting compliant. I start creating bad habits for myself, like letting my right leg point inwards instead of pointing my toe out and keeping my calf against my horses sides for better aids.
Then as I get compliant I start to wonder why I’m having issues getting stuff like the left canter lead. Well it’s because I’m out of balance, and I’m not cueing correctly but I feel correct so I get confused and frustrated with my horse. Now enter a second set of eyes from the ground and SHAZAM immediately some problems become instantly apparent. And as I work to improve them suddenly some of the issues with my horses start going away.
The key is finding that good instructor you click with. Once you and the instructor are on the same page it’s a wonderful feeling. Each day I look forward to improving myself and each lesson I’m curious of what she’s going to come up with this time. I’m over here like “Here!!! Here!!! TAKE MY MONEY!!! LETS GO!!!”
I have to hold my excitement down because even in 1 hour I feel great improvements. I get frustrated, I get tired and then something clicks and there goes the excited feeling going off all over again…….And then I watch the next lesson and see someone do something perfectly that I struggled for 30 minuets to do just once and that competitive side comes out in me.
“Oh yeah. Little miss perfect with your awesome little horse. I’m gonna beat you.” And I set a plan for working with my boys and perfecting what I just learned. Who says you need actual competitions to show you what you need to work on. Just pay close attention to you lesson and then watch the next one and aim to make yourself better to “beat” the rider after you. Of course all in good fun now. No getting snippy with the other people!
No matter what your age or experience level never be afraid to take a lesson! If nothing else it’ll nip those bad habits in the bud and keep you in peak form AND you might just have a great time 😀
Until next time!