Lesson of the Week – Patience

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Two more rides behind me this week.  We’ve already topped the ride count for the past two weeks combined and we still have the weekend to go.  It is nice to have the normal routine re-established and have the weather cooperate.  The cold hasn’t been too dreadful.  I was able to ride without having to resort to looking like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story in order to stay warm. [Cue the small child in the snowsuit who can’t put his arms down…”You can put your arms down when you get to school.”]  Can I just say how hard it is to effectively half halt when you have warm puffy gloves encasing your fingers making them look like Italian sausages?

Yesterday I rode while Ms. C gave a lesson to another friend.  I focused on my work and tried to stay out of their way.  Ike wasn’t too squirrely, and we worked our way through the repertoire of walk, trot, canter, circles, leg yield, transitions, halts, shoulder in (attempts), and free walk.  I thought we had decent rhythm and tempo…and that is where I was wrong…

Today was our lesson.  Little did I realize that Ms. C’s laser sharp eyes did see some of our work yesterday.  She asked me how I thought my ride yesterday went.  Ooh.  “Well, it was not as challenging as some days, but I was happy with what we accomplished.”  Well, I learned that we were too quick in our trot work with too few half halts, not as through as we should be at the canter, i.e., more half halts, and our angles were off with our lateral work (read: half halt that outside rein to slow down that outside shoulder).  Darn those pesky things.  I think I’m doing things correctly only to find out that I’m not quite as effective as I think I am.  Crap.  Sigh.  Bummer.  Why don’t horses come with owner’s manuals so you know exactly how much to squeeze your fingers and legs to get the correct result?

Ms. C said that I am letting Ike choose the rhythm he wants to go – he needs to learn patience, wait for me, and I need to establish what I want.  If I keep letting him make the decisions on how to travel, then the choppy quick trot is what I’m teaching him is okay.  Ahh, light bulb moment.  It is a very good thing that I take weekly lessons to keep me on track.  Ike and I would still be careening around the arena without Ms. C’s close and very patient guidance to keep us moving in the right direction.  We spent most of the lesson working on my ability to half halt correctly no matter what gait we were in and thereby teaching Ike to be patient and wait for me to ask for more or less.  My homework for the weekend is clear…no puffy gloves, lots of half halts, and then some more half halts.  Ike’s homework is working on waiting for Mom’s aids…patience big boy, patience.

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