Lesson Recap

We had a lesson this morning. I planned it for Wednesdays as that's the day our leaser cleans stalls so we wouldn't need to. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men though. So our leaser got sick and we had to get up extra early to do stalls and feed in addition to tack up and get ready for the lesson.

Admittedly, because we both have flex schedules and our barn is 8 minutes from our house, getting up extra early was 7am. I hate mornings though so this is really early to me.

I tacked up while my husband did stalls and we were ready when the trainer arrived at 8. This was our first ride with this trainer so we had to do some explaining of our goals and current levels. She was very receptive to the mule, which was nice. We did commiserate over how I won't be able to event with Nilla, but it's not like I'm really out for ribbons anyway.

We did some warming up and she asked us to do posting exercises like sit 2, stand 1 and sit 1 stand 2. We're both actually pretty good at these as they're something our instructor in PA had us do pretty frequently.

We moved on to a circle of death sort of exercise. My husband was working on spiraling in and out over poles.
Lovely mare
I got to work more on freaking halting as Nilla had decided to blow through the reins and ignore everything I asked. We were having this issue even before the circle exercise so it only got worse with tighter steering being needed. I would ask nicely for trot to walk and Nilla would just barge forward trying to yank the reins out of my hands. My initial reaction to this is to haul back and force a back up to emphasize that she needs to listen to brakes. I do not consider it acceptable behavior to drag me around.

la la la - not listening
However Nilla also decided to forget how to back up so the trainer had me doing baby transitions - asking quietly and gently for trot to walk and then halt. And then she wanted me to praise her for halting and I was really very opposed. I know to the trainer's perspective it looks like Nilla needs this low level work, but really we've been doing transitions for a year now. It's not a new activity, doing it right should not be praised. Halting and slowing are just expected behaviors at this point.

However, I'm open to trying things, so I tried this whole gentle, not fighting stoping thing and the trainer kept saying how she was getting better and stopping much faster, but it was all the same to me. Seriously taking 5 steps of pulling to slow from trot to walk is not that much of an improvement over 6 steps. I'm not saying 5 steps to halt, but 5 steps to even begin to slow down and respond to what I was asking for.

Look at those angry ears
I think I need to put her back in a harsher hackamore and do a reinforcement of brakes training tomorrow.

The next exercise was a trio or poles set for canter. My husband worked on halting at various points to get control of Shasta. She gets way too excited about cantering and poles and anything more interesting than trotting. Shasta was really dragging my husband around so the trainer managed to determine that it was because he wasn't squeezing with his thighs to slow down. And this was a really great insight as we had gone over this a few weeks ago and I could not help him understand how to ask her to slow down and sit back. He thought he needed to not use any leg pressure.  I do the upper leg thing subconsciously and when I talk about leg pressure I just mean lower leg. Because my husband didn't grow up in the horsey world and hasn't really had all of this explained to him, we weren't really speaking the same language. So this was great and it helped him get a smoother halt.

Nilla and I did the same poles just at a trot as cantering is still an issue for her and as she was refusing to listen to me as it was I was not going to ask for canter. Nilla likes poles so this went better except for when I continued to ask for transitions and halts. We got to keep having that disagreement.

We did get some happy ears so the whole ride wasn't a bust. 

We did another exercise that was circling with poles but my husband never gave me my phone back so I don't have any pictures. We are going to have the trainer back again next week so hopefully we'll get some practice in before then.

My husband left his checkbook at home so he had to drive back and forth to get it while I untacked and fed the horses. The lesson also ran late (yay for extra time, but not yay for being late). Because of this delay, we were later than we anticipated getting home to shower and go to work. I ended up getting in around 10:30. It's days like this that I'm very grateful for flex-time. 

I'm also grateful that I get to take my dogs in to work sometimes. I know this is a horse blog, but I pulled these pictures off my phone at the same time as the lesson pics and figured I'd share.

It's like the grown-up office version of having tea-time with your pets/dolls

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