Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We loped this weekend

My view

It was so cool.  I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now.  I knew it would be a challenge, since he’s such a green horse.

Sunday was easier than Monday, but they each had their moments.  I’ve been walking and jogging Blu so far, and have been learning a lot, and hopefully have been teaching him some things, too.  Or at least he’s learning to do what I ask, even if at times I don’t know what I’m asking!

For example - there was one time Sunday where Todd yelled “free skate” to Sharon and me as he ran off for a couple minutes and wouldn’t you know it, I ran into a situation where I was trying to get Blu to jog on the rail away from the gate and as I bent him around my leg and tried to move him to the rail he bent his nose all the way to my toe and stopped.  Wouldn’t budge.  I tried bending him the other way, squeezing/kicking him hard, pulling both reins, just about anything I could think of.  Nothing worked.  I finally got him going again and he did the same thing again.  Sheesh.  I was laughing out loud and asked Sharon to see if she could see what I was doing wrong – KNOWING I must have been doing something wrong – and she gave me a couple pointers but they didn’t work.  I bent my head down and rested it on Blu’s neck in defeat and just laughed.  What could I do?  Luckily Todd came back shortly after that and he laughed too.  Turns out, just like a computer, sometimes you need to “reboot” a horse!  I’d been giving him too many signals, kicking, bending, pulling, leaning, etc and he didn’t know which command to use, so he just “froze.”  It was actually really funny.  And Todd’s analogy was perfect for me.  So I sat back.  Took a deep breath.  Loosened my reins.  And relaxed.  Then I started over.  Gathered my reins and squeezed my legs asking him to walk off in a straight line.  Something really simple.  And it WORKED.  Voila!  I rebooted Blu.

Once that episode was concluded Todd asked me if I wanted to lope.  I immediately answered SURE and had a big grin.  But then, since it’s been so long since I’ve loped any horse (seriously since January) I asked Todd “remind me how to lope” and he refused.  He said I know exactly how, and to just do it.  So I did.  Because of course I know how.  I was just nervous.

And I’m thrilled to say that Blu got the correct leads both directions.  Todd’s been working on that a lot since the Santa Barbara show.  And it shows.  This isn’t to say he was perfect.  But I had a blast.  He was super fast (especially compared to how I’ve been riding for the last couple years) and a bit erratic.  Though I can’t blame the erratic behavior on him – I was really loosey-goosey in the saddle.  My lower legs were moving all over the place.  I wasn’t sitting properly so I kept loosing my footing in my stirrups, and was unsure of my seat.  But Todd got me through all that.  I stayed on – not that there was really a question – and got him to lope on the correct lead a couple times each in both directions.

It was heaven.  Ok – well, maybe not heaven.  But it WAS really cool.

Watching Sharon in her lesson

Monday was a repeat of Sunday’s lesson, but with more loping.  I did some “zen” bending – getting Blu to lower his head while I was circling him in small circles off my inside leg and inside rein.  When he’d drop his head an inch I’d give him the inside rein and switch the leg to the outside leg.  Todd had showed it to me Sunday but I wasn’t really getting it then.  Monday, after having a bit of time to think about it, it made more sense and worked better for me.  So, once I’d done a bit of that Todd looked at me and said “ok – lope out of that circle and I did!  Better control today.  My legs were much less lose (I’d also adjusted my stirrups and Todd worked with me to get a better leg position which I think was the key).  Though I was far from perfect.  And Blu wasn’t used to my body position, or movements, so it took some getting used to for him.  I’ll say that, rather than just that he was a little troublemaker.  Because he challenged me a couple times.  Once he bucked – I don’t remember what I did at that time to cause it – Todd thinks I might have squeezed - and regardless that isn’t acceptable behavior.  The other time he just wasn’t having anything to do with loping correctly and I needed to take up the challenge and MAKE him do what I was asking.  He got the wrong lead once, but I got him back on the right lead, and I got him to work through his issues and have a nice period of smooth loping.    Hehehe. It was fun.  I didn’t want to stop. 

But I did stop.  We ended on a very good note.  Todd told me I was a better rider than I thought I was.  At one point in the difficult period he asked if I wanted him to get on and lope Blu and I said no – I wanted to work through it myself.  I was actually proud of myself for that, because I didn’t just get off and have him take over.  And at the end, when I stopped Blu I asked Todd if he wanted to get on Blu to work him and he said no.  He told me I did a fine job and there was no need for him to get on.  I was really happy about that.

All in all, it was another highlight for me to remember in my journey to getting a show horse out of a green horse.

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