Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lesson numba 3...and what's a blog carnival??

Well this evening I had my third lesson. Sigh...I love getting home from the ranch and having all of the animals in the house perplexed by the smells on my boots.

But first! We interrupt your regularly scheduled coverage to bring you- A blog carnival!! What's that, you ask? It's basically a cool way to expose a blog to more readers- and a great way to discover some cool blogs. Well, my first lesson post made it into the March edition of the Carnival of Horses!!  Click on the link to see a list of all of this month's blogs, there are a ton of interesting ones, including mine...heh. I know I'm glad I found the carnival, since it gives me plenty of horsie stuff to read.

Back to the exciting lesson show now:

Tonight started out with a grooming/tacking up refresher on a little pony named Scout. Why a little pony for a big girl? Easy- to make it easier to reach and easier to put tack on/take tack off. I wasn't going to ride him, just practice on him. Why make it easier? Well, because the horse I was scheduled to ride, Forrest, is very tall- I'm not sure how tall he is, but I know he's a thoroughbred, and I couldn't see his withers. I'm 5' 4", so that's not really saying alot, but having a review on a small horse certainly made things easier.

I groomed the little pony, had a refresher on the correct way to attach the girth, and how to make sure I have it on the correct setting. I kept getting confused as to which way the straps were supposed to go- I don't like feeling turned around or backwards, so I hope it clicks in my brain soon. I'm sure once I do it regularly it'll become second nature.

Then once I had reviewed that information, we put the little guy away, and I noticed there was a horse running loose in the arena. I pointed it out to my teacher, and she said, "Yep, that's Forrest. You're going to learn how to catch a horse too!"

Now, remember that one friend I have with a horse? When she needs to catch her horse, all she does is walk up to the gate and call for her, and the horse just ambles up all nice and happy. I was quite concerned that this scenario wasn't going to play out like that.

However, I have an awesome teacher, who would never put me in a bad situation, and this horse being a seasoned lesson horse, immediately walked up to the gate of the arena as soon as he saw us, and stood calmly while I haltered him. Whoo- crisis averted!

We led Forrest to the tie up area and I groomed him for our ride, and we saddled him together. My teacher put a hackamore bridle on him, which is a bridle that doesn't have a bit. I guess it can be just as harsh as something that goes in a horse's mouth, but since we were doing lunging on him, I wasn't pulling on the reins anyway.

We worked on my foot positions, my posture, and my body cues. Basically, you give verbal and non verbal signs to the horse to show them what you want them to do. If they don't do it, then that's when you employ the reins and/or your leg cues. So I learned that by settling my weight into the saddle, taking in a deep breath, and moving my feet slightly would stop the horse. It's amazing to me as a new rider how much you can do with so little movement.

After lunging for a while, she gave me an option; Either have complete control on him and learn how to direct him myself, or let her continue lunging him and go faster....oooh...faster!!

Yeah, can you guess what I picked? So she talked to me about the different gaits of a horse, and what my options as a rider were with a trot. She explained that one could simply sit on the horse and bounce along, or post, where you rise up and down with the beat of the gait, or raise up on the stirrups while the horse is trotting. For tonight, she had me stay in the saddle, bouncing along like a sack of green jello.

It was a little unsettling at first, but I gradually gained enough balance to let go of the saddle and bounce along without feeling unbalanced.

But one thing:

Mah butt will hurt tomorrow methinks.

I managed a pretty good dismount- or so my teacher said, and we completed the untacking routine.

I am noticing, with each lesson, that I get more comfortable around the horses, and using my body to give the horses direction on the ground is becoming less of a conscious thought. I think I'm learning the language!!!

Ok, so trivia- answer will be posted next week-

What's the difference between a horse and a pony??

Tune in next time for the answer, and remember, training is good for both horse AND rider!!

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