La Fin

But not really.  I had my "last" lesson with T3 last night.  In talking to her, though, she explained that the job is currently only contracted for a three month trial before she gets an offer to make it permanent.  And her husband is still living here.  She said that she would be coming back on weekends that they (I'm assuming it's a college, because she's taught at colleges before) weren't showing and could potentially do lessons on those weekends.  So all hope isn't lost.  Just.. indefinite.

Here are my reviews of the last lessons:  fourth, third, second and first.

The lesson with the kids ran about half an hour late and T3 was clearly eager to get started.  Archie got a little warm up, but we made up for it with a shit ton of trot work.  My first exercise, after I got him going properly, was to post as small as possible.  I don't know why this has been such an issue for me.  I post like, two feet out of the saddle.

Oh, did I mention that I wore my fresh-from-the-box boots?  For the first ten minutes or so, my ankles were in a fiery, painful hell.  And then the boots remembered that they were synthetic and started to relax around my legs.  Magical.  But, needless to say, lowering my heels was difficult initially.  I refused to make it an excuse and just pushed them down.

The small-posting brought to light that the giant posting was fucking up my hand position, so while doing these tiny little posts (which, fuck, I need to get used to), I had to work on the line from my elbow to the bit.  My hands would raise and break the line, which she said was a habit from pumping my arms as I take my giant posts.  The chant for the flat work was "elbows, wrists, reins, bit", interspersed with "TOO HIGH!" and "push your knees into your heels!".  She also explained that when I was pumping my arms, I wasn't giving him anywhere to go.  Goes back to that chokehold I used to put him in while trying to get and maintain contact.  So, softer hands, straighter line, to the bit with less movement out of the saddle.

From there, we moved into canter hell.

There were several standards and jumps in the ring and she made a serpentine pattern out of them.  I trotted through in once, and then went through it at a canter.  It was down the straight on the left lead, turn in and go straight, downward transition, simple change to the right lead, bend right on the rail, turn back in, go straight/simple change back to the left lead, bend left and get back on the rail.  Here.  I drew you a pretty picture.

The black stars are standards.  Blue is left lead/bend.  Orange is transition.  Purple is right lead/bend.
And that blue star?  Where T3 decided to stand when I kept cutting that corner.
The transitions were butt-ugly.  It was horrible.  We were slow to get them and we'd be in the turn by the time he picked it up.  A lot of this was just my fault.  We had to have several reset moments, because I would be bending him the wrong direction and he would pick up the wrong lead.  After butchering it several times in this direction, we switched and went the opposite direction, which was 800 times easier.

When it was finally a little less ugly, we moved to jumping.  She asked if I wanted to, since we were riding by the arena lights at this point.  I said yes, because he's jumped with shadows before.  She set up two cross rails at a three stride and we trotted through it a couple times to make sure he could see them.  Then she asked me to pick up the right lead and canter in.

Hi, here's a super lightened panoramic of the ring.
The jumping wasn't as magical and exhilarating as it was last lesson.  I couldn't really relax, after having fucked up the serpentine exercise a million times.  We progressed to canter both directions with a few breaks to trot, then she moved them up to a cross rail and baby vertical.  We did okay with that and she turned it into two baby verticals.  So, yeah, we cantered our first line of (baby) verticals.

On the left lead, going towards the pasture, I had to whoa between fences to line him up.  On the right lead, going towards the woods, I had to keep leg on to get the three strides.  I think part of this was just fatigue on his end.  He got really grumpy towards the end and we got to show off one of his new evasive maneuvers:  bulging in and dancing when I want to ask for the canter.

She got on to me at one point and I seriously almost cried.  We were cantering in on the right lead and I choked him at the first fence and then let him flounder his way to the second.  I can't choke him.  If I'm committing to a jump, then I have to trust that he is going to jump it.  She kept repeating that this horse is going to do his job.  I got a wee bit emotional and told her that it was pretty scary for me.  I don't trust him to do his part.  So, yeah.  Must work on pony trust and pony encouragement.  Must jump more jumps.  Gotta canter more lines and figure this shit out.  She said to just start with some poles, building my confidence that way.  

We ended on a really good note, though.  Right lead canter into the line.  I felt my hands start to check him at the base and stopped them.  Landed, one, two, squeeze on three and jumped the second fence.  She said it was way better than we had started.  No fetal position, more oompf, with three balanced strides.

My baby verts.
Notes from this lesson:

  • Elbows, wrists, reins, bit.
  • Support outside rein
  • Breathe
  • Sit up
  • Count strides to relax between fences
  • Lift inside hand to facilitate lead and to keep inside shoulder straight
  • Take time asking for the canter:  push him into the outside leg, slight bend to the inside and then request.
  • Push knees into heels and stop posting so high!

Because it was the last lesson for possibly ever, we spent a few minutes just talking about our progress.  I mean, five lessons and I'm cantering lines of verticals.  My horse is a completely different horse and moves his body with balance and impulsion.  He swings through his back and uses his hind end.  We don't bulge (often) and we rarely fall sides, so long as I do my part.  We also had a good laugh at his race picture and talked about what an angry baby he was.

And then she gave me the bestest compliment I think I've ever gotten about this horse of mine:  she said she would add him to her string in a heartbeat.  *swoon*

This guy.

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  1. He's a great boy! Trusting them to do their job is really hard for me too. My only advice is what you already know, just do it over and over until you don't second guess things.

    Random, but I'm happy your boots are synthetic! I saw the picture yesterday and they looked like a pair (of leather) boots I had that fell apart on me, and I was worried for you... but they're obviously not the same so yay! Wishing you ease in the breaking in period.

    1. I LOVE these boots. I think WeatherBeeta took them over, because I don't remember that affiliation previously. I had these bitches back when I was showing IHSA and wore them intermittently afterwards. Savannah ate them. This new pair seems nicer than the last, so here's hoping they live forever.

      And.. you know.. my horse hasn't ever been super naughty over fences. He's not dirty. He might be enthusiastic and opinionated, but I think he honestly loves to jump. I just have to remember that I really love it, too.

  2. Replies
    1. Yeah.. and someone told her about my plot to kidnap her, so she never came in grabbing distance. Hurrumph.

  3. You guys have made so much progress! You should be very proud. Also there's nothing like someone you respect saying that they would gladly have your horse as their own :)

    1. I mean.. I'm the one consistency for the Kid over eight years and I felt like her saying that was a HUGE pat on the back. We don't get enough of those in regards to the work we put in on them.

  4. SO MUCH PROGRESS. I hope the saga with T3 is NOT over.

    1. ME TOO! I'm keeping hope alive that she'll visit often and that I'll still be able to lesson with her every month or so. It's the weekly kids that are getting fucked. Also, trying to talk her into a camp over Christmas.