Sunday, June 12, 2011

When I'm Straight My Horse is Staight - another "Oh Really" moment!

I went to a show yesterday, but I really want to tell you about the lesson I had the night before. After the lesson I didn’t really care about how the show went, I was more excited about the exercises I want to work on in the coming week. The show actually felt like a minor interference in my training regimen. Once again at my lesson it only took Sarah 30 seconds to pinpoint exactly what we need to work on. Grace and I are improving in between each lesson, but it still always amazes me how Sarah has the next thing ready, the next exercise we need for our next break through. I’m starting to really appreciate having a trainer that puts me to work and knows that I am ready for the next step in the process, even if I am not convinced at first.

Sarah had me lope Grace in a straight line right at her. Turns out our straight is not very straight. Grace swings her hip to the inside and then gets really crooked from there. Sarah had me lope the straight line while taking Grace’s nose to the outside. Grace immediately threw in a flying change; I stopped her and backed her up letting her know that she has to wait to be asked before executing a flying change. On the next approach to the straight line I was clearer in my body about holding the lead. I then took Grace’s nose to the right and moved my right shoulder back. Instantly I was straight, and then my horse was straight. All the way down the straight line I could feel Grace rock back on her hocks and it was easy! It was a major “AHA” moment, followed by an “Oh Really!” when I expressed out loud how when I was straight my horse was straight. I could immediately see how getting straight was going to solve all sorts of issues at the lope.

At the show when I warmed Grace up for my Western Riding class I could tell that she was a little apprehensive about her left hock, not lame but just tired from the lesson the night before. The pattern started with line changes and then went into the cross changes. In the class our line changes were the best they have ever been! By the end of the pattern Grace started to rush and she was late on her last change to the left. The end of the pattern wasn’t pretty. When I ride her one handed I feel like I lose my ability to get her back together if she falls apart. I know that getting her stronger behind and straight at the lope will fix this. This show was the first time that they announced scores for Western Riding. Both judges gave me a 65. The rest of the riders in the class did simple changes. One judge rewarded me for executing the flying changes and kept the other scores below mine. The other judge placed me 3rd. I know exactly what we need to work on for Western riding; overall I was thrilled with her line changes.

There were more entries in our trail classes than there were at the show last month. There was also better competition in both of my classes. The first class called for a figure 8 with a simple change. By the time I got to that point of the pattern we were a little discombobulated and Grace picked up the wrong lead on the last change, she then immediately threw in a flying change – we really got dinged for it and placed 5th and 7th. I got more organized for the championship trail class which again was a full class with some real competitors. At one point in my pattern the call judge yelled out something about a cone. I had just passed one, so I stopped and looked back over my shoulder at him. He waved his hand at me and said “continue on”. On my way to the side pass I wondered what I had done wrong, but I really didn’t have time to think about it. I figured whatever it was I had blown the class and the pressure was off. This time the figure 8 called for flying changes which Grace was more than happy to execute. She did get a little flat and rushed at the end, but overall it was a good pattern. I checked the pattern again on my way out and didn’t see anything I had missed. I then realized that the judge had been telling the next person in line to move up to the start cone; I thought that was the job of the steward. I was thrilled to find out that I wasn’t marked down for stopping on pattern and placed 3rd under both judges. Of all the ribbons I took home I think those 2 yellow ones were my favorite!


  1. I have that same amazement with my lessons with Sarah. She notices whats going on right off the bat, and always has an idea for suppling, strengthening, or other exercises. My last lesson on Wesley was much like yours! It was all about keeping him straight and staying straight in my body to do so. Sounds like the show was a good stepping stone too.

  2. Congrats on the ribbons. I know you weren't really focusing on them but it's still nice to get recognition.