Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let it Go and Just Breathe

McKenna and I had a lesson Tuesday night. It had been storming off and on all day Tuesday, but our outdoor arena was usable. My trainer had another lesson before mine so as I was getting ready to tack up she said that we would be outside. I've never ridden McKenna outside in the wet arena, and with a little chill in the air I was a nervous wreck thinking about how naughty she had been the previous week and what she would be like that night. Note to self: don't psych yourself out before the lesson begins!

I had turned her out in the indoor for a good hour before my lesson, hoping she'd get some of her energy out.  She was pretty relaxed and chill getting tacked up, if a bit confused as to why she had to work when it was dinner time.  But once we hit the outdoor arena she puffed right up and felt super explosive.  I'm pretty sure I had a terrified expression on my face because my trainer said to head inside and that we'd start in there.   I put the mare on the lunge line and let her play a bit, not that she did anything, while my trainer finished up her previous lesson.

At least she looks cute
To start the lesson my trainer had us do lots of transitions by calling out different gaits, never letting us go too long in one before switching or changing directions.  It kept both McKenna and I off balance, which worked in keeping me from anticipating and her from building up too much.  I would have expected it to do the opposite, but that's why I'm not a pro.  We had some decent w-t-c work, not our best but definitely not as bad as last week.  My trainer told me that my mantra should be "just breathe", and that I was holding my breath and tensing up.  And when I'm tense, the mare's going to be tense.

Trainer then wanted to go back outside and conquer our demons.  No getting away with an ok ride and not doing the scary things under her watch.  So back out we went.  She had me put McKenna right to work, doing leg yields and breathing while she set some trot poles.  She set them a little short and the first time we approached I felt McKenna think about just jumping all three at once.  I was told to breathe, half halt, then let go.  And what you know, it worked!  Once I relaxed, asked McKenna to slow down, then released and let her, she did.  Our other big take away from the lesson was to let go.  If I continuously hold her mouth, she's going to pull right back at me and we'll get into a tug of war.  She's not a complete baby anymore that needs her hand held or constant re-balancing.

We did a few trot pole courses, two outside lines and the diagonal lines, never doing the same thing twice.  Trainer reiterated what TS told me at our last dressage lesson, McKenna's too smart and knows when she's done something right.  I can't keep drilling her, I have to constantly switch it up.  We ended by cantering circles at the top and bottom of the ring and trotting in between.  The mare wanted to get uppity, but somehow we managed to keep it together. It's hard to trust that she's going to be good when she keeps feeling explosive but other than feeling that way she didn't do anything naughty.  Forward baby steps are still better than backwards steps.

1 comment:

  1. nice work keeping it together!! i literally count out loud sometimes just to keep myself breathing haha, and letting go has never been my strong suit.... but it does work!