July 10, 2012

The New Normal and My Own Limitations

I was feeling very zen on the 45 minute drive home from the barn tonight, listening to This Town Needs Guns and contemplating my first lesson in nearly a month.  It just feels like everything is falling into place lately, like I have confirmation that what I'm doing is right, and that we're headed in a definite direction these days.

Our lesson began with me demonstrating the new normal for Connor and I: kickass walk and trot work.  Afterwards, my trainer described the new normal by commenting on how good his neck muscling is looking, how much he's swinging through his back at the trot, and how pleased she is with how that looks.  We've seen this before: glimmers of it in February and quite a bit of it in April, but for the first time, things are consistent.  We have our moments of ostrich trot, but they are fewer and fewer with each ride, whereas I get more and more swingy, through walk and trot all the time.  When it's this consistent from ride to ride, I feel like that is actual progress and not a fluke.

We moved to a simple canter exercise, though, and that is where all of our weaknesses are outlined.  He was either lazy, or running, and I was unable to ride effectively enough to make a huge difference.  When he was lazy, I was pumping with my arms and upper body ("Your position just falls apart when he's lazy," she said,) and when he was running, I had my arms forward and was letting him get all strung out.  There was a time when my ineffective riding would have led to me wondering if I was cut out to train a green horse and blah blah blah (I'm looking at you, March 2012.  Rough month.) but now I know that it is just one more step in this long process.

Fortunately, I'm going to have help.  After I pulled up from the exercise, panting heavily in the heat, she said with trepidation, "I really want to ride him...not right now, but as a training ride.  I need to figure him out myself before I can coach you."  All the while she was speaking, I was trying to get out between pants that I had been planning on having this exact conversation with her after the lesson tonight.  He's ready for the canter, I can't get him there.  That's it, plain and simple.  I have hit the end of my skill set, and luckily, I have the resources to teach both of us through it.  She needn't have been concerned about bringing it up with me, I will readily admit my own limitations and ask for help when I need it.  Better that than set Connor back.

So starting tomorrow, Connor is getting three training rides in exchange for the lessons I've missed due to the weather, and she is going to focus almost exclusively on the canter.  I'm very interested to see how it goes, and will definitely report back.


  1. Very cool, can't wait to see the outcome. And don't get down on yourself. You are very right, it is all just a part of the process. I know that feeling very well, so I understand.q

  2. All part of the process...you are doing an amazing job with Connor! Isn't is nice to be only in the 90's this week? :)

  3. Thanks, guys! I'm not getting down, just a realist. I'm happy with where things are headed. Kelly, YES! I never thought 93 would feel cool, but it does.