So the physio was going to come on Monday while I was at work and make my wonky pony all straight again. She came … and said she hadn’t time to see him, implying to the staff that I had not contacted her.
I was disproportionately upset. But there wasn’t a lot I could do except wait another fortnight for her to come back. So we’re still waiting. However, as he went surprisingly well on Sunday for the Biomechanics session I hoped we’d be able to continue working that well. And so far we have.
On Tuesday I had the day off work, as they owed me many hours, and went to ride in the daytime. Unexpectedly there were lessons on, so I had to wait hours to get the indoor school (the outdoor is a bit drowned at the moment), but I spent the time chatting to one of the instructors about everything under the sun and had rather a nice time even though it hadn’t been what I’d planned. While I was there I caught the owner for a minute, between schooling her horses, and asked if she will teach me for private jump lessons instead of me coming to the group. Not only did she agree, she struck while the iron was hot and we arranged a lesson for Thursday night, i.e. today!
I managed to get into the indoor school eventually and had it to myself for well over an hour. During that time we had a wonderful workout. The weather was only a few degrees above freezing but I worked hard enough that I wished I could take off more layers than were decent. Drifter ended the session a very sweaty boy too. We did a little sitting trot practice and I had a few moments of really “getting it,” but mostly I was focusing on steering in canter. I’d been hoping to work with the cones, but they were all round at the other schools and having waited so long to get in the school, I was not going to go all the way back for them. So I picked up vaguely recognisable chunks of school surface and marked points that I hoped would give me 4 points of an even-ish circle to steer round. This was a very useful exercise (i.e. challenging for us!). I also tried cantering down the three-quarter lines to work on turning onto them, spiraling in and out on a circle (which it had never before occurred to me could be done in canter) and trying to slow the canter down. Slowing didn’t go as well as the other goals. But there was only one time when he was on the wrong leg.
I’d realised that for jumping we need to be accurate and maneuverable in canter. All of my previous lessons involving canter have been all about getting the canter and virtually none on what I do when I’m in canter! Until I went into the session with Lee Pearson I’d never been asked to canter anything more challenging than a 20 m circle. Until I went into the jump lesson I’d never been asked to come off the track in canter except to do a circle. I need to remedy this, and practice cantering other shapes. Unfortunately when sharing a small school with other riders, unpredictable figures are dangerous, so a lot of the time staying on the track or circling is the only safe option, but when I manage to ride alone, I intend to be inventive.
I realised that I now have the capacity to do a figure of 8 in canter with simple changes. So I did one. I used to dream of that being possible for us and now it is. Pretty cool. I want a copy of the walk-trot-canter dressage test now, because I’m sure we could do that. I’m also sure it would lead to him getting excited and everything in the test after the canter part being a conversation like this:
D: Canter now?
Me: No. Get back here. Slow down that crazy trot.
D: Canter here?
Me: No. You are supposed to be trotting.
D: Well… you must want canter now! – I trotted nice and round for a bit so now it’s time to canter.
Me: No. Walking now.
D: Don’t understand. Why am I not supposed to be cantering? Oh it must be time to stop work. I will go very lazy now. What do you mean trot? I am resting if we are not going to canter.
Me: No, no, no! When you go lazy you are not straight and we’ve got to get down that center line vaguely straight to have any chance of halting facing the judge!*
D: You’re mean.
Me: I know. Life sucks.
*I don’t bother dreaming of a square halt, but one facing the right direction is always nice I think.
So tonight we have our first private jump lesson. It has been snowing today, although it hasn’t settled yet. Officially all jumping must take place outside at the moment, but I’m not sure if that holds true with lessons after dark and/or in the snow. It would be nice if it’s inside, but I shan’t hold my breath. I’m hopeful that Drifter will continue to move as well as he has for the last few rides. I wonder if the stiffness and wonkiness he was experiencing was not the recurrence of his usual problems, but something else, because he seems to have got better of his own accord. He’ll still see the physio in a fortnight (I hope!) but I’m hopeful that he’ll be reasonably balanced to jump tonight. Wish us luck!