I’m going to combine these two lessons into one post since – well, I was a fail in my last lesson, and we didn’t do much in either one. Plus, I have very little to no media. What do ya do.
Well, for starters, I was happy to have Georgio this lesson because per last lesson I was expecting to do more cantering, poles and the like. And Georgio’s canter is much easier to sit. Once he gets going his canter is great. But what did we work on? Trotting. Sans stirrups. Because apparently it’s Drop-’em December. Oh lordy. And poor Lit got a boo-boo so he was out of commission. Plus, I rode the whole lesson without spurs. If you are thinking I died and somehow managed to come back as a ghost and write this, well then you would be correct.
It was a cold-ish and dreary day, so I was hoping my Grand Prix Thermal full seat breeches be in by that time (they weren’t), so the fleece-lined Ovation tights I pulled to ride in….they did NOT help me. It was just a fail fest on Wednesday, really. Georgio was more responsive this lesson, and really responded when I’d lighten by seat while posting. We were pretty good for the first 15 minutes of the lesson – when I got my shit together he’d go nicely, and then he’d decide that work was optional. So I’d lose my position when his pace would waffle – basically the back and forth I had the first time I rode him. No spurs didn’t help, either. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice horse, very sweet and I like him. But there’s only so much my out-of-shape legs can do, and I really really dislike how much I need a crop with him – and Lit too for that matter.
We worked on sitting trot for a bit, and man, if I’m going to do that with Georgio again, I’m either going to have to make sure to drop my stirrups or change my position (the most likely culprit I think), because I had neck pain for days which gave me some nasty headaches for like 3 days straight. It doesn’t help that I for sure have 1 herniated disc, maybe 2 in my neck. When I dropped my stirrups it was much easier to sit Georgio, but my cross country saddle is not made for dressagey sitting trot lol. I was trying to sit with my butt here, calf muscles there, elbows not compensating for balance – that means YOU AS WELL LEFT HAND – and I’m thinking I got ridiculously stiff in my neck which caused the whole thing to start. It doesn’t help that I’m so focused on keeping the horse going that I can’t focus on relaxing into the movement. I loved sitting Amber’s trot in my dressage saddle – it felt really nice. Then again she is certainly not as buoyant as George lol. When sitting the trot tho, the Ovation breeches did not help me at all like my full seats do, and they bunched up weird.
It was just… not a successful lesson. I was miscommunicating to Georgio, and he was a bit tired despite the cold – his only “it’s cold and I be a wild beast” was to spook twice. Like huge, slow motion spooks haha. It was ridiculously easy to sit to after riding short, tiny, agile cutting/reining horses that can scoot out from under you in a heartbeat. I was disappointed in the lesson, just felt very blah – especially from myself. I think Georgio was feeling under the weather – they’d had a show that past weekend that he was in, and he had lots of crusty boogers and snot on one of his nostrils, so I wonder if he just wasn’t feeling it either.
What did work about my lesson? My new winter Roeckl gloves, my Ariat merino wool sweater, my puffy vest, and my trusty brown MH boots. At least I picked my clothing well – minus the breeches. I just, ya know, couldn’t ride that day lol.
After that lesson I thought a lot about grabbing a dressage whip – I’d prefer not to have to use a crop at all, but the lesson horses kind of need something longer with perhaps a little more “oomph” if I’m not going to be able to use spurs; and my legs are only so strong to not only hold myself but use them on the horse since both Lit and George take A LOT of leg. Not even Rocky or Soxie need that much leg. But, the main reason I’m thinking of grabbing one is for my left hand. It likes to completely flatten with my knuckles in the air, which allows my elbow to imitate a sea-flap-flap. Trainer G always has me grab a dressage whip instead of a crop, and I realized that when I switched it to my left hand, I could feel the press of the whip on my thigh when my left hand was in the correct position. So it helps remind me to ice cream cone my left hand, which in turn prevents my elbow from become a chicken wing. Or a sea-flap-flap. Whichever you prefer.
So for the next lesson I planned to switch it up and chose my only pair of full seat Pipers. They’re a thinner breech, but not made for hot weather like my Grand Prix breeches , and it was a lovely, warm sunny day so they were perfect. I debated whether or not to wear my brown boots, but decided to finally break out my black boots that I’d gotten on the Black Friday sale and try them with some new socks. The day before my next lesson I ended up popping by the local tack store for a dressage whip.
I was assigned George again (it’s slow going but I’m getting better at his trot), and he was so sweet – perked his head up and left his hay when I called his name. His nose was still snotty, so he was definitely a little sick, so I immediately determined it would be a light day. I got to ride, and that was good enough for me. Trainer M agreed that we would do only a bit of trotting, a teensy bit of cantering and just focus on my position since George was feeling under the weather (and yes the barn was taking good care of him!). I made sure to tell Trainer M about my neck as well, and she immediately switched up the exercises that would garner the same results.
George and I worked so much better together this lesson. I think part of it is I’ve ridden him a few times now, and I certainly rode better this lesson, but to be honest? It was the whip lol. When I first asked for the trot he threw his “I don’t wanna” sucking back head toss, and two quick taps with the whip had him second-guessing that. He moved into what has been his most forward trot to date, and it was so much easier for me to do my job. Only a few times at first would he slow down, and a cluck and a tiny tap and he’d be forward again. I could actually focus on posting the way he preferred – light and a little forward in my seat with supporting calves. I could focus on using my elbows as the hinge instead of my shoulders. I could focus on balance and position, and I could hold it much longer since he remained steady and forward.
The lesson really was mostly trotting, having me two-point at the trot and post the trot sans stirrups that similarly works your abs and legs like a sitting trot. It was really good that Georgio kept a steady pace for this, especially for my two-point. I realized that while I’m using my core, my back is still like “NO NO it’s fine – let me just take ALL of this slack up” so I had to really concentrate on loosening my lower back muscles every few strides and tightening my abs – back and forth lol. I was also able to also focus on breathing, which sounds silly, but I’ve realized that I have to breathe a certain way with George to actually get enough air in my lungs haha!
Once our trotting was done and we took a short break, I asked George to canter. He still threw his head toss, and I only had to tap him twice, walk and readjust, and we were off without a hitch. He’s such a lovely horse to canter, and we cantered about once or so around the ring before calling it quits. He got many pats.
It was a short lesson, but it felt like one of my best on him or Lit so far. I do think it worked so much better because he was more forward – a lot of things work better with a forward horse lol. Because of that I felt accomplished that I could do the exercises instructed, and then better support him in turn. But the dressage whip really did help me with my left hand and coincidentally the fact that the left side of my ribcage collapses. I mean, I knew it collapsed, but sometimes the light bulb doesn’t go off until something else helps it along haha. I’d feel the whip bump against my boot and get the whip back up. I will still need to tighten my right elbow, but my left one is the worse offender, so I’m going to keep on carrying the whip for a while for my poor left hand’s sake lol.
Two very different lessons, but I think I still learned a lot in them both. What not to do in the first one, and what works in the second one. I have another lesson tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it. I know I won’t get another one with Trainer M for at least the next 2 weeks, and I may not get another one for a while after that – it’ll just depend on how things go for next year. I’ll have a post coming up telling you guys all about it!
That is….if I can write it much less get it out next week haha!