I had initially requested a group lesson (easier on the checkbook) but am SO thankful now that I ended up with a private lesson, even if it did cost a bit more. I'm also thrilled that Anita was able to go with me and watch. She said she learned as much if not more by watching than I did by riding.
So what happened? Well, first we had to settle down. I introduced Shirley to Joe. She was a bit keyed up so he got on and worked her on the flat for about 15 or 20 minutes. He was calm, cool, insistent but not rude about it... just kept asking over and over and over... as much as it took. Shirley started to settle quite nicely in both trot and canter as time went on. I got on then and tried to replicate what he had done with her, working first on keeping the rhythm in the gait the same all the way around the circle (not to mention actually making the circle as circle... have I mentioned we're geometrically challeneged?). Both directions... both trot and canter. Keeping the contact the same no matter what she's doing in front, just keeping the forward and rhythm... the relaxation and roundness will come. He also warned that as she came round in the canter, her stride would get bigger. It definitely did!
We didn't jump much. Couple times over an X and a few over a small verticle. Not what I expected coming into this lesson, but the lesson was EXACTLY what we needed. Our homework is to continue to expand on what we were doing in the lesson. Maintaining rhythm in the gait, keeping contact with a slight inside bend, allowing her to be round (releasing the pressure if she does) and then start working on adjustability within the gait. Also, getting her out to do things. We were supposed to school cross country today at KHP with Megan Moore, but they had too much rain and cancelled it. One of my fears, as I told Joe, is that Shirley loves jumping and has never refused a fence, and I don't want to take advantage of that and push her too far. He suggested to do lots of little stuff and once I have the adjustability as well as the her confidence, then we can start getting bigger. He really liked her (and he said he doesn't usually say that about horses he can't get to go on the bit) -- that made my day.
Also, through the lesson and in the discussion afterwards on what we needed to do, I had a "come to jesus" epiphany about me. I've known I need to work on my fitness for a while. Last Tuesday morning, I did SOMETHING to my back. I have no idea what. I went to sit on a chair and put my shoes on and almost started crying it hurt so bad. Dealt with it Tuesday (thank you Naproxen). Scheduled a wonderful massage on Wednesday (I think I need more of those regardless of anything actually hurting). Managed to get an appointment with a chiropractor on Thursday with a followup on Friday. Things finally started moving. I'm still having some issues with it and am wearing a mild brace for anything like "work" (riding, grooming, walking, gardening, etc.) and it's doing MUCH better. Lots of yoga stretches! But Joe made some comments about my balance and such during the lesson. He never asked what I'd done as far as riding so he didn't know if I was new to the sport or (correctly) ridden through CCI*. But between the comments and the issues with my back, it's past time for serious. If I want to do right by Shirley, I need to be fit and have the balance/core strength to give her the ride she needs and not "hurt" her because I don't have the physical ability to do what needs to be done. Right now exercising is limited as I nurse my back, but I've started walking as well as riding, plus still doing lots of yoga stretches. "The game is won in the gym but lost in the kitchen." Yep, getting the junk food/comfort food eating under control again too. I want both me AND Shirley to be better the next time we see Joe. Last night's ride was a good one.
Unfortunately no pictures of the lesson. But here is a pic from the Hilltop show a couple weeks ago... the first is one that Jen took. The 2nd is from Intelligent Design Photography & Graphic Design (the show photographer).
In other (very quick since this blog post has been long) news:
- Had an absolute blast playing show groom for Anita and Cerveza at the Majestic Farm show last weekend. Didn't quite turn out as they'd have liked, but I think they looked fabulous and am so proud of them. Dressage shows definitely aren't the same as Events, but I still had a great time.
- Working on the garden more -- currently have spinach, lettuce, snow peas, broccoli planted... and just added tomatoes and a couple peppers.
- Looking forward to the Come Again Farm spring show this weekend. Shirley and I will tackle the Green As Grass and Starter level Event Derbies, Ella and Thumper will be doing the Starter and Beginner Novice level Derbies, and Anita is bringing Cerveza to practice 3rd and 4th level dressage tests.