Today's Riding Lesson

It was -15 when I arrived at the barn for my riding lesson this morning. Yikes! Cheryl's barn is pretty warm though, and there was no wind, so....
First I lunged Cheryl on Savanah, and then she lunged me on Savanah. We kept it pretty light and easy because Savanah has a coat like a wooly mammoth and I wouldn't want her to get sweaty in that cold (more on that later). Cheryl hasn't been riding in a while, so she's getting on Savanah to do exercises and get back into riding condition (she's strong because she does lots of work in the barn). We laugh though, because Cheryl is only 5' tall and Savanah is sooo wide that Cheryl's legs are almost doing the splits to get around her. 
My longing exercises are without stirrups and to:
  • lean forward and hold and lean back and hold, while keeping my legs correct
  • put my arms to the front and then one at a time move the arm to the side and follow with my eyes, while keeping the other arm still
  • swing each leg, with an unbent knee, forward and backward, swinging the hip joint
  • then both without and with stirrups I practice canter trot canter transitions, because my position is poor on Rogo (heels don't stay down as I encourage him to go forward)
I love riding Savanah, because I can ride her much more correctly than I can Rogo. It seems I am always concentrating on too many other things when I'm on him, and my position suffers. I know this isn't a good excuse - the better my position is the more I should be able to work on improving him, but ... I'm trying hard and slowly getting better with him. Cheryl told me my canter on Savanah today was the best she's seen me do, but when I'm on Rogo he doesn't respond as quickly and easily as she does, so my legs and back are working more to keep him going / steering. Oh well. At least by getting on Savanah I can work on my position.
Rogo was doing a better trot again today. Keep your fingers crossed for me. The free longing over poles and jumps seems to be helping his trot and also the running with him is helping me. I worked on contact today mostly. It wasn't very good to start. He's wanting to stick his head up again, but he improves as the ride progresses. The nice part is that I'm getting a good working trot almost as soon as I ask, which for weeks / months had taken 20 to 30 minutes to get with any consistency.
Cheryl watched his canter and said it was fine - I'd been wondering why he was using his hind quarters more but then seemed to be 'falling' forward and trotting - but he didn't do it today. She said he was probably just losing his balance as he is learning to carry more on his hind quarters.
All in all a good lesson and it was up to -2 by the time I went home, tired and cold but feeling great.


Brrr! I hope that's Celcius and not Farenheit. Either way, you're hardier than I am!

I agree with Cheryl on the "falling forward and trotting" thing. It's very hard for them to carry themselves and a rider correctly. He'll get it. Try doing more canter-trot-canter transitions. The idea is to have him make the transition correctly before he falters, that will help build up his strength.

Also, try to keep your position correct and allow/encourage him to match you. He has to put in as much effort as you do! But, don't let yourself become rigid. This is actually one of the hardest things to learn in horsemanship. It's all about feel and timing and it really can't be taught, it just has to be done. Remember that you are shaping him, so you can't compromise on perfection in your position.

You're making great progress!
Anonymous said…
Lucky you to have a fairly warm barn! Cassy is having that head up issue at the trot as well, but her trot is too fast, so i have to work on using my body to slow her down instead of encouraging forward. If only our horses could meet us in the middle!
Karen said…
Holy cow! -15 you are superwoman! :-) I would agree that it sounds like your boy is just loosing his balance at the canter.
Oak Creek Ranch said…
It will come with Rogo. You are fotunate to have Savanah as well. It is really hard to work on your position (and maintain it) when you are also training a young/green horse. ...speaking from experience.
Achieve1dream said…
It sounds like things are coming together really well and that you had a fantastic lesson! :)
juliette said…
-15 sounds awful - in F or C! I hope you get warmer temps soon.

Your description of Cheryl riding Savanah really hit home and made me laugh. I am 5'3" and I have shorter legs than torso. Every time I have to ride a round horse, I feel like I am doing a split. I end up walking funny when I dismount. Even though Pie is a Tbred, he is approaching "split" territory because he is getting chubby!
Hi there! Saw that you visited my blog, so I popped over to yours. I am always in awe of equestriennes who can do the real disciplined stuff like dressage... I am just your basic trailrider. No showing, or anything like that. So I enjoy reading your blog. Looks like you are doing a great job with the dressage...Hope to hear from you again soon.
Sarah said…
You know, Miles does the same thing you are describing, and I also (perhaps wishfully) thought it was because he is learning to carry himself properly. On the lunge, he looks great, but he has a tendency to go on his forehand and stretch that neck of his down down down. When I make him "carry" himself it takes some adjustment:) I have learned that with a proper barefoot trim he does it much less, but it does happen.
Ah, lunge lessons...I miss them a whole lot and not at all:)
Oak Creek Ranch said…
On your comment on my blog you said you liked the face book page. I'm confused... I had a horrible long drive home tonight from work and maybe my brain is just totally fried but could you explain? Sorry to be so dense.
smazourek said…
Way to not let winter get you down!

It sounds like he's really understanding forward, that's going to be my goal once I start riding on a regular basis again (whenever the weather decides not to be ridiculous cold).
Rising Rainbow said…
You are dedicated working in that kind of cold and then working two different horses. The exercises on Savanah will build up your strength so you can sit more correctly on Robo. That will help both of you a lot. You're doing awesome.
Wow, I don't know if I'd get out there in that kind of cold. The work you are doing with Savannah on the lunge will definitely get you stronger and better able to sit to Rogo. Cheryl sounds like me on my horse Erik when I had him. He was 17-2 and I'm 5-5, and he had a big barrel. It was an interesting combination.
Jan said…
Carol, You are doing so well with Rogo! I am envious of your longing lessons on Savanah - what a great way to get to focus on your position. They sound like really helpful exercises. Congratulations on the blog award! You also get the award for making the most progress on your riding in the winter months! Enjoyed your sharing items also!