I wasn’t really feeling it this week when we pulled up to the barn. I’d been up late the night before, and apart from being completely exhausted, wasn’t feeling well to boot. So I had already decided that it was going to be an easy ride (Luc loves those!). Jen, Luc’s owner and my sister, and I walked out to the field to go and get Luc. And instead of finding a lovely grey, we found a bay. Luc was all brown and sticky. Yuck! That right there is the reason why if I am ever in the position to buy a horse for myself, I don’t want a grey (which naturally means that’s exactly what I’ll end up with).
We brought Luc back into the barn and discovered it wasn’t quite as bad as first blush. Luc was only bay on one side. The other side was still nice and white. Looks like he was suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. Jen set to work tackling getting the grime off, while I cuddled with Luc. Yes, I really am that spoiled!
After finishing with the grooming, we put Luc’s bridle on and headed into the arena. You’ll notice I only said bridle. For some reason, when I think easy ride I always think bareback. Probably because when I’m riding bareback I tend to keep the rides shorter (Luc is wide and bouncy). Although I’m not sure it’s always the best idea – especially when I’m already tired and not feeling well.
After successfully managing to get on Luc, and only kicking him in the butt while swinging my leg over once, we set off at a very slow and sedate walk. Thankfully, Luc didn’t seem to be stressed or wound up in the arena today. He’s gotten so much better inside. I only hope it lasts the rest of the winter!
We worked a little in the walk in both directions and then it was on to the trot. A few laps in both directions and I decided to take him down a series of trot poles that was already setup. Success! I felt strong and secure and not at all like I was bouncing too much.
Naturally after trotting came the canter. I opted for the walk to canter transition, hoping to avoid the bouncy, bouncy trot. Luc had other ideas. I slid my leg back. He took one stride of canter and then broke to a very forward trot. I tried again. Same outcome. Finally I managed to get him to canter about three strides. Then we had the same battle the other direction.
Still not happy with his lack of responsiveness, I evaluated my own position. The best I could come up with was that I was leaning ever so slightly forward when asking. So I tried to sit up nice and straight. And still Luc didn’t seem to want to coordinate. Finally I broke down and had Jen get me a go stick. A few quick taps, a lot of leg, and Luc finally decided to cooperate. I got a nice forward canter for more than one lap around the circle I was working on. When I accomplished the same thing the other way, I called it a day.
So much for my easy ride. Luc sure made me work for the canter! But what came out of that was more confidence. I was secure enough in my seat that I was able to coordinate using the whip without losing my position. And I was secure enough that I wasn’t apprehensive to continue to try for the canter even though all the failed attempts ended in abrupt and bumpy transitions.
I’m just feeling so confident now in my riding. It’s amazing what having such a great partner (and ground support) can do!