So it's been a bitter dark place in Hollyland lately. I'm not sure why... well, I am, but not really. I mean, I'm exhausted.... I work 82 hrs in one week, then am off for a week and during that time I've been picking up relief shifts here and there and house work and adult pony club stuff and riding stuff and family stuff. And work has been stressing me out completely and financially. But you know.. I'm always tired... I'm always working... I'm always doing house stuff. So why suddenly is it such a total disaster? Finances... I think that's why. But even riding has been bumming me out. Not in the sense that I don't enjoy it anymore, because that's just not true. But in the sense that I've ben feeling like a complete failure lately. I feel like I've let my horse down, he no longer loves me, I'm not worthy of him, I've ruined him, and that I can't do right by him. And THAT leaves me more depressed than anything. A friend had a good thought. She said that perhaps since life is so stressful, I'm counting too much on my riding to be the highlight and expecting perfection. And when I'm not getting perfection I'm letting it get me down more than I normally would. I think she's right in a way. It's not that I'm usually awesome and great and super rider and all things are amazing. It's just that the little things don't bother me and I'm able to enjoy the little successes and even enjoy the journey because I'm not terrified about what is going on in life in general. The rest of my life isn't normally such a disaster that the only thing I have going for me is riding. Perhaps?!?! I don't know. But I do know that I'm miserable and need to fix something. I'm attempting to do that, but it's hard. Really hard. Just as hard as it is to NOT hang on that darn left rein with puppy paws. So... I'm working on the work stuff, the house stuff, the family stuff, etc. But today.. I decided that I would do my best to NOT let it interfere with my riding. Cause screw "It"! Riding is my happy time.. how dare "it" interfere. Of course.. that's easier to say than do. And normally I think I would have been much happier, but at least I didn't cry the whole way home this time. So... it's a start.
So... back to the lesson. The second I got on, Cindy wanted me to focus on lifting Flecks back up. No more of him bracing and being inverted. And yes.. I have been working on it at home too. So, we started to get him in gear, and it's a battle at times. And it will be a battle for a bit. Until Fleck resigns himself to the fact that from now on... no more giraffe. But he's a stubborn dude, so.. we continue to fight that battle. Only this time I'm determined to not fight! No more taking my frustration out on him. I used to hear all the time how "quit treating him like he's your best friend, mean it"! and suddenly.. I don't get that anymore. Sure, that wasn't necessarily correct either, but I should train him, not punish him. So.. instead of getting sucked into it and pulling back when he pulls, bracing when he braces, I'm just going to ignore it, REALLY put my inside leg on and make him lift that back. If I have to lift my hands and wiggle and soften until his back comes up, then up his back comes eventually and down his head goes. And it's about his back.. not his head. So we did that and then lo and behold, the trot steps were nice from the get go. Since I've been focusing more on his back, he's giving me a place to sit and that means that I can feel things better and slow my post and tempo and that means he can slow his rythm. It's just a nice win win situation. So yay... And of course, we had the giraffe moments sneaking back in. A lot... But we had a LOT of good stuff too :) Yay. The canter is really getting nice too. I have to remember to supple that outside jaw... And by that, I think, Cindy means to take a good feel of it and even counterflex him (not counter bend, just counter flex) to get him to give that jaw and get straight on his shoulder again, then GIVE!!! So he can go back to true bend and flex. And right now.. it's before the corner, in the corner, halfway down the long side, before the corner, in the corner. But.. we ARE getting it :) And... my seat seems to be improving too. Hopefully this time I wasn't as flaily as I felt (and looked.. I have video proof) as last time. I'm not sure how much of it was that she was focusing on the other things or that I'm fixing it, but my leg position didn't get as many corrections. I tried to ride him with my weight in my inner calf (not the back of it) and not focus on my stirrup so much. By gripping him with my inner calf, my thoughts are that I could use my leg more effectively and have a better position and work better with the inside leg to outside rein connection. So... hopefully it's working.
So yep.. a better lesson. He was nice and drooly after and then proceeded to smear it all down Cindy's sweater. Oops!!!
Oh, and... I also thought to myself that I needed to spend more quality time with him in general. So.. we had a nice long graze and he made me smile quite a bit today. After the ride I came home and was bagging leaves in old feed bags. Him and Danny were chewing on them, pawing them, flipping them around in the air. :) Happy horses... Happy Holly...