Monday 12 October 2015

Good Times, Bad Times

Title should be something more along the lines of "Good Times , OK/alright/average Times" but that's not the song that's stuck in my head right now :)

Being a holiday Monday, I opted to have my lesson first thing in the morning so I had the rest of the day to be productive (or, read blogs and watch netflix. Same thing.) I arrived way early and fed the horses breakfast, which was dumb. Feeding Midge breakfast, she was like "Oh hi, I love you!" Aww, so cute! But wait, taking her away from her breakfast to tack up for a lesson was obviously me messing with her head. Some hateful things were being expressed my way. I got the feeling I was picking a serious fight in Ponyville and our lesson might not go quite as expected. Pony mares are the best at holding on to deep resentment.

Our lesson buddy was a different rider than the norm. She's a super nice girl on an equally nice horse. They are quite a bit farther along than the Midge and I, so I was conscious of not wanting to be the lowest common denominator as far as the jumps went. I needn't have worried, since EC set up the circle of death - a challenge for the both of us.

Midge shows us the circle of death, circa sometime last fall:
We started the same - 4 poles equally spaced on a 20 m circle. Trotting went fine, although Midge was still unhappy about life and doing a great angry giraffe impression.

Canter was the next logical step. We opted to start left since that's Midge's easier side. The wheels fell off, which was disappointing after Saturday's ride when she rocked it. Our problem was that she was wanting to be VERY forward and pushy and I was picking a fight over that, resulting in Midge opting out of steering. Finally, EC suggested just picking one or the other - if the wheels are falling off the canter, get it balanced and stay wide on the circle - if the steering is the issue, make her turn even if it means sacrificing the canter for a trot. Readers know that Midge is less than easy about the canter and on a bad day her two defaults are racing along unbalanced and falling out through the shoulder. She is if course green and legit finds it hard, but she also is smart and lazy enough to know intentional flailing into the wall might mean a trot break. Fun times! We eventually got a decent canter and spiralled in enough to get a couple of  poles in.

Next up, right lead. Which is her more difficult side. Again, much drama. We may or may not have slid through some jump standards and also into the wall a couple of times. Before you start feeling bad for Midge, realize that 3/4 of the circle is fine...for some weird reason she simply cannot turn on the section closest to the gate. Weird, huh?;) I'm proud to say I sat deep and made it happen, and the circle magically started getting round. Poor pony was huffing and puffing - life would really be so much simpler if she didn't waste so much time getting pissy and trying to live in Bizarro World (if my memory serves from Mad magazines circa an embarrassingly long time ago, it's the world where everything is opposite. Midge is a frequent visitor, her hobby on a bad day being pushing back into pressure)

"Let me outta here!" Fence smashing procedure initiates in 3...2...1 (Again, old pic)

And, onto the good times! The poles were raised into little x's and Midge cantered them both ways with an entirely new mindset. We found our canter - the nice big uphill one - and she started to figure out how to adjust off my seat. Add in respecting my outside aids again, and it was a happy end to a tough lesson. EC: "THAT's the canter we've been looking for. You can jump anything from that one!" And it felt like it! Huge progress.

Moving forward:

- EC is suggesting I take the odd lesson on one of her upper level horses so I can keep some sanity and remember how it's supposed to feel on a trained horse.

- Cantering circles with jumps. Don't need to rehash the circle of death outside of lessons, but work to incorporate the odd jump on a circle, and more bending lines.

- Pony is much more enthusiastic and forward thinking now - she loves jumping. Continue popping over the odd jump as a reward or as a motivator to help her "get" something (better turns, sharper canter transitions)


  1. The angry giraffe impression is my absolute favorite pony resistance maneuver.

    -said with absolute sarcasm

    Love the bit about pony mares being the best at grudges. Too bad there's not an award for that ;)

    1. I know, right? We'd be famous if that was the case

  2. She just wants to JUMP ALL THE THINGS! Ha, and if you are referring to the Led Zeppelin "Good Times, Bad Times" song, you are even more awesome and now it is stuck in my head.

    1. I've got a variety of Led Zep songs stuck in my head this week, and I love it :)

  3. oooh exciting about riding some of your trainer's horses!! i also think it's so funny how fussy Ms Bridget was about the poles, and then she did a 180 when they were actual jumps...

    1. It's semi ridiculous that we've been battling this canter thing for a year now. I'm finally figuring out all of the big improvements come thanks to jump motivation! Moving to an eventing barn was a very, very smart choice for Ms B :)