Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lesson Learned :)

Have I ever mentioned what a wonderful instructor I have? If not, then let me say it now. Kristin Stein is amaze-za-zing. I had a great lesson this past Thursday. Bastian and I have always struggled with his wiggly-ness and my own weakness in my lower body, it is hard to keep him straight. This results in not only unwanted lateral movement but an unsteady poll. So it has been a huge focus of ours to get his little chestnut booty moving and to keep his poll quiet. He’s also a sensitive guy, so every little bobble on my part results in a bobble on his part, it’s a vicious circle.

Over the past few months I’ve gotten better with my upper body and better with my arms (I like to impersonate a chicken every now and then…). Now, we’ve started focusing on bringing my legs into the picture, keeping them on and keeping him tuned in there, using those elusive inner thigh muscles to keep him balanced. In my lesson on Thursday, we got it! If only for a stride or two, but we got it, I felt it, felt the difference it made in his gaits and it was awesome!

I love that Kristin was able to break it all down for us and to get us to this point. It is one of the things I truly look for in an instructor-if you can’t break it down and explain precisely what my leg/arm/hand/seat-bone should be doing I’m going to struggle with it. Another thing I really like about my lessons with Kristin are that even if what I want to be doing is some kind of fancy dressage second levelly thing or jumping over crazy fences (when we were jumping), she won’t allow me to do those things unless I’ve got the pre-requisites under control. A quality that I think is often lacking in many instructors-they do what the client wants instead of the client needs or is appropriate for the client.

The results are phenomenal. Because we have the pre-requisites mastered and in place, we can then do the cool stuff. So like today, because I made sure we were quiet, working off the seat rather than the hands and in front of the leg, Bastian gave his back and was soft and round and we had some crazy good canter-like a whole 20 meters worth of quality 2nd Level score of an 8 kinda canter.

What’s the point of this little story you ask? First off, always listen to your trainer (provided you have a smart one who knows what they are doing). Second, with horses, taking a few steps back will often times get you huge strides ahead. This lesson has been a bit slow sinking in for me-the first time Kristin really applied it with me was three days before Regionals. I wanted to be practicing the elements of my test and what Bastian really needed was a flexible rib cage and to go long and low and get through his back, so we spent the days before Regionals doing long and low work-like pre-training level work, I was freaked. But it paid off and it was what we needed, I could have put him through his first level tricks and he would have done them, but there would be no quality there.

As the rider, it is important to get on and realize where the horse is coming from on that day-it won’t always be where we want it to be. When it is not, realize that it is okay to take a step backward, even if it is right before a major competition. Pushing blindly forward without fixing the basic problem won’t end well for you or your horse. So yeah, today’s ride has now cemented this lesson in my mind. Bastian’s poll was so quiet you could have balanced a glass of water there…. He’s such a great guy and he is settling in nicely to his new home. We’ve also made our first offering to the shoe gods…. Oh well, he’ll be getting new feet soon and then problem solved!

We’re looking forward to an awesome April and a magnificent May (English teacher alliteration there). Just two months before he heads across the country to CA. I’m thinking I may need to start buying Pepto-Bismo by the case to deal with the stress!

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