I REALLY meant to post this Tuesday. And then Wednesday. And then yesterday. And totally kept forgetting to bring all of the media together to post this haha. I guess after officially starting school Monday, I only have so many brain cells left over after work and then school LOL.
Nevermind that, tho – on to the lesson! Saturday was a ton of fun. Not only did I have a great time on Soxie, but my mom also had great fun on Rocky! He was the perfectly pokey QH for her haha!
Soxie was an angel. Personally, even though she was strong in my last lesson with her, I think she always is pretty perfect, but I felt this was one of my best lessons yet on her. It could have been because we tried a different bit on her – just a very mild elevator – but I like to think it’s because we get along haha. I think it’s because she’s so much like Amber and Whisper, and just for the type of horse she is I hop on her and immediately feel very comfortable. I think she feels comfortable with me as well – this ride she was lowering her head and neck and stretching down and over her back within one trot lap around the arena. And she was actually a bit lazy this lesson!
In terms of challenging exercises or having a lightbulb moment, this lesson was not either of those. Because my mom and I were lessoning together we didn’t do too much, and Soxie hadn’t jumped in a week, so we kept it very simple. But everything just came together so nicely, and Soxie and I were communicating well. It helped that I was doing my PT exercises again to get stronger, and that improved my balance and stability. I was hoping we would be able to jump just a little, and we did! And this time, I actually not only REMEMBERED to BRING my helmet camera, but I remembered to TURN IT ON. So I FINALLY got some video for between the ears with Soxie! It’s only of our last two runs, but they were the best and most exciting anyway, so it works lol.
Mostly, we focused on getting Soxie relaxed, but forward, and practicing our half halts. Soxie has a very fine line of just right and too much, and she was a little too slow so I had to give a good squeeze to get her from a little pokey to a little brighter lol. When a horse is fast I tend to sit “back” with my center of gravity going back and my lower leg coming forward – a habit I certainly learned from riding western! So I really tried this ride to keep myself centered and not let my lower leg swing forward. This helped when Soxie got a little fast, but I’m still learning just what she needs from me so she can relax into a frame. Then if my leg slipped a wee bit too far back, Soxie thought canter, so she was a good teacher in helping me figure out where was just right and where was too forward or back.
She was a bit stiff but also just resistant to really coming around my right leg. It’s my weaker leg anyway, so I wasn’t surprised, but I think it’s also her slightly weaker side as well. We worked on getting her supple and in that exercise for me NOT to hunch my shoulders when I release. I think that’s going to be my hardest habit to break – the shoulder hunch when I release. It must be a western thing – release with fingers or your shoulders and break your wrists but omg NOTHING with your elbow haha. So that’s been a challenge for me.
Trainer G set the poles/jumps in a lightning bolt pattern down the middle of arena, and we worked on all the space in between. Soxie absolutely loves to jump, and was very excited to be jumping by actually jumping the poles haha. But she was still very respectful as I brought her back to a trot, and really tried to implement my half halts with my seat. She had a few moments of “no, let’s GO JOMP OMG” but when I told her firmly that wasn’t what today was about she responded well. I over-bent her a bit in the turns because she does like to be strong and just go for it. But the point for her was everything in between the jumps, and part of her strength is that she likes to brace through her turns. Her right was still a bit difficult – it was easier in the trot than when we made it to the canter, but once she realized the activity she was foot perfect for the rest of the jump exercises.
We had 2 runs of trot to crossrail and canter to vertical, and both times felt positive. Soxie is positively the easiest horse I’ve ever ridden to trot a jump haha. I know she’s going to go, and you can feel her excitement of YAS JOMPIES and she does this ever-so-polite canter stride before the jump that you can just let yourself relax and follow her momentum over the jump. So it really allows me to think about my weight in my heels, closing my leg around her and keeping my elbows straight and forward without worrying if she’ll jump or not. We reiterated her coming down to a trot for a simple lead change as well as just reminding her to come back, and then turned off the rail to the small vertical. I turned a little early, and was just a little too soft. She lengthened as she locked onto the jump, but was super responsive when I half halted and steadied her a little, so we came up short to the vertical. It still felt like a good ride – I was a thinking rider, I was helping her out, I was actually able to rate her stride to judge the distance, and instead of being indecisive, I made the decision to be short to the jump.
We had one more go around, and that time was the golden ticket. We nailed our lead changes, and Soxie softened into my leg around the turn. I sat back just a hair, and closed my legs to support her but remained steady with my hands. I turned just a little later than the previous time around, and made sure that my shoulders were up and we still had that lovely rhythm. A few strides out and I knew we’d hit the jump beautifully, so I loosened my elbows a little and we flew over the jump. We nailed the left to right lead change too, and while she wasn’t as soft around my right leg, she was responsive, kept her frame, and was perfectly accepting of my input as we cantered for a bit more before having two great downward transitions.
You can hear me on the video and how over the moon I sounded haha. But it was just a super positive ride on her. Soxie completely remains my favorite of the horses I’ve ridden so far lol.
As for my mom, Rocky was a perfect QH for her. I was very pleased that through the lesson she wanted to continue doing more – she felt confident on Rocky, and ended the lesson laughing and having a blast. Which was the exact point of the lesson for her! She hasn’t gotten to ride Whisper in a while, and English will always remain her first love, so I was extremely happy that the lesson was such a success for her.
As for school, it’s definitely different from what I’m used to, but I’m really trying to stay on top of things and do a little bit each day so it’s a nice and easy transition and I’m not suddenly overwhelmed with things to do come the weekend lol. Because of this determination, I got quite a bit done on my class, so I have another lesson with Trainer G and Soxie on Saturday!
Wow – TWO lessons already so far AND I’m keeping on top of school for now?! It’s a miracle! Let’s just hope I keep it going LOL!