Friday, January 21, 2011

Lessons Day!

Since I've decided that Sparky needs more, uh, exposure to various kinds of riders, and because I had Monday off work, it was decided that Jen and I were going to take our horses to her barn of employment so the Sparkplug could be used in one of her lessons she teaches for young people who are generally of the teenage persuasion. Jen was also thinking that riding her OTTB, Tiki, in a lesson with Jen's Boss-Lady would also be a good idea (See blog here: ). I had planned on just watching, but somehow I ended up getting dragged into it, too... so I figure, well, if I'm going to lesson on one horse, why not two? So it was decided to also take Kelly, a young SWB mare I've been riding for a friend, in order to take a lesson on her, too.

After a slightly mad rush to load, trailer, unload, and prepare horses, I hopped up on the Sparkplug. Jen and I rode in our lesson, and, once complete, I rode Kelly. Oh, boy, was she hot that day. The lessons were nothing earth-shattering: W-T-C and jumping through a gymnastic. Jen's Boss-Lady had a faboulous analogy about the contact we should keep with our leg: it's like holding an egg. You want the contact to be supportive enough that the egg doesn't fall, but you don't want so much that the egg cracks. Nobody wants raw egg on their pants, especially their Tailored Sportsmans. Jen's Boss-Lady also introduced to me "The Ear Game." If your horse twitches an ear in response to something you do, you have their attention. If there is no ear twitch, you're pretty much background noise, and it's time to do something to get their attention back on you. Fabulous trick. Overall, Sparky was a very good boy; Kelly was as good as she could be, given her mood. Jen's Boss-Lady said the best thing I can do for her is to make her uncomplicated, and work towards keeping all her parts working together as one unit.

I've decided this about lessons (especially when taking a lesson with someone from whom you don't frequently): It's not about taking EVERYTHING to heart; it's about taking the bits and pieces that help you NOW, applying them, and filing away the rest for future reference. It was very interesting to hear another person's opinion on my overall equitation, both good and "needs improvement"... I was actually complimented on my upper body over fences, which has never happened before (so it very well may have been a fluke!). It was also pointed out to me that I tend to put my horses *too much* on the rail, which forces their (substansial) hind ends off the track. Hmmm... see, this is why eyes on the ground are good. I will be keeping this in mind.

After riding two horses I know well, the obvious next thing to do is to ride a horse I've never before ridden in yet another lesson, this time with Jen's students. The point was to either a) Be a good example, or B) Serve as a terrible warning. So I did this in the same lesson in which one of Jen's students-of-the-teenage-persuasion rode Sparky. Again, it went well overall. I think I managed to not be a terrible warning, and Sparky mostly behaved himself. As he started to get tired near the end, he did pop in a buck that sent his student-of-the-teenage-persuasion over his shoulder... but she really should have been sitting up better. ;-) She was good-natured about it (else I wouldn't have mentioned it), saying that she *did* need that as a reminder to sit up.

The big take-away messages of the day were the egg analogy and The Ear Game. Sparky got in some good experience being ridden by a rider who isn't me. Kelly got some good experience in being off her native lands. Quite nicely (as in a nice surprise type nicely, not that I was told it in a nice fashion - the fashion was a little more matter-of-fact, rather than "oh, let me fawn on you"), I was told that I was a good rider for these green horses. I guess, sometimes, having more guts than brains works out.

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