Naughty Pony.

I'm surprised at the amount of gear that I've started to carry when I ride.  Like I tout being a tack Puritan, but overburden myself and take all the simplicity out of it.

  • iPhone
    • With headphones (one in, one out) to listen to music, talk to Siri, and hear updates from:
    • Cyclemeter, my new, fabulous, amazing app.  More on that in a minute.
  • Heartrate monitor (chest strap and watch)
  • ShouldersBack. I don't always wear it, but it's a damn good reminder that I crumble forward with my shoulders.  I bought it when I was competing in IHSA and consistently not pinning well.  I'm not bragging, well, maybe a little, but I feel pretty damn comfortable on just about every horse I've ever ridden (not ponies, though!  evil mofos!) and could get those old school horses to do mostly everything and my equitation was pretty reasonable.  The solution?  Lose some weight and get this strap.  The bitch mother of a team member saw me after I bought this thing and didn't recognize me.  I did pretty well after that.
So, I rode last night.  About fifteen minutes in, while we were trotting, the BO decided to feed.  Some Republican she knows was going to be speaking at the GOP convention, blah blah blah.  BO is a local politician.  Do I need to say more?  Goober was being remarkably good while she fed.  Kept trotting.  Last night was one of the first times in a while that I demanded he be on point for as long as he could hold it.  Tracking left isn't nearly as much of an issue as tracking right, but I don't ask for work often.

He was big and floaty and on the bit and beautiful.  It felt great.  He got a little stink eye when the BO walked up to the gate - like he wanted to focus on her and stop and say hello.  I immediately shifted his front to the inside and his haunches to the outside and made him focus on me.  After I let him break, she remarked on how great he looks.  I said thanks.  Giant pause.  Then, "Oh, you two look so good together."  I guess that's as close as I'm going to get for a compliment on my riding.

I let him cool out for a lap and then asked him to pick up the canter.  When the time comes that I feel counter-cantering will have any purpose in our training, we are so totally going to nail that.  I brought him back to a trot and did a simple change to the correct lead, let him canter out in two point for a lap and brought him back to a walk with lots of pats.

Tracking right, I tried really, really hard to focus on myself.  I wanted him to be in frame and responsive, but, really, it isn't fair to ask him to work harder because I'm all sorts of fucked up.  I know I lean left and that it's worse when tracking right, so I tried really hard to balance myself more on the right stirrup.  I also wanted to leave his back as much alone as possible, so I brought my knees and thighs as far off the saddle as possible and pressed with my calves.  
Side note:  My first-ever instructor was a fraud.  I was cantering fences and didn't know what diagonals were.  My second lesson, she wanted me to show that weekend.  It wasn't uncommon for her leave me alone with a horse for half an hour.  My second instructor was considerably better-educated, but insanely old-school.  She was a hunt master and, uh, very classical.  KNEES!  So much emphasis on the knees.  I didn't learn "bend", I learned the "indirect rein."  Only when I started riding in college did I learn about using my calves over my knees, bending the horse around my leg, asking for him to work under himself.
 And he was fairly responsive to this.  He seemed more relaxed and when I felt we had done enough and that he understood the equality between directions that I normally ignore, we walked.  I gave him a couple minutes to cool out and then asked him to canter.

He immediately picked up the correct right lead and had a few giant, lurching strides.  I don't know if this is just "him", the right lead, or something that muscling and balance will improve.  I gave him a few strides to get comfortable and he felt great.

And then bam.

I had a lurching, bucking, angry mess beneath me.  I'm not sure why.  Felt good?  Felt bad?  Angry that I had asked him to do so much hard stuff?  Excited over the right lead canter?  I was in two-point for this explosion, completely unprepared, and when I felt the pommel smack me, I sat deep and brought him back under control.  (I secretly love the way that bucks feel.) This is all me, all my weakness, but I knew that I wasn't going to be able to teach him anything while asking for the right lead.  He's unbalanced but strong, whereas that direction makes me unbalanced and weak.

So we changed directions, immediately, it was land from buck, demand a walk, half circle, pick up canter.  And then I still had problems getting him to pick up the left lead.  I had to go all old-school, lesson pony - pulled his head way to the outside and kicked with the outside leg, forcing that front left to be the dominant.

We cantered tracking left for about a lap, hollow and sloppy, but somewhat controlled - safe.  I turned him and reminded him that we had to go back to the place that he exploded  (which is, actually, the same place that he reared a few months ago).  And he was great.  We cantered another lap and I praised him and walked him out.

We were both disgustingly sweaty afterwards.  He gets today off (it's raining and we're going to the gym), but I plan on spending lots of time with him on Friday.  Maybe setting up a crossrail/trot pole grid.  Yay, gymnastics!

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  1. Damn you got sweaty! I also ride with a HRM. I used to ride with my Shoulder's Back but realized it did me more good to wear it all day at work! :)

    Bad Archie! (I secretly love bucking too)

    1. Sweat is SEXY!

      So, I'm assuming you wear the shoulder's back under your clothes (or you might be gangsta and wear it like a gun holster...). It doesn't rub? I can't wear it with my loving tank tops because it rubs my chub.

      (I've been researching it by means of google and I think it's the diagonal incline that destroys his brain by using so much of his back.)