Tuesday 4 September 2018

Learning Is Fun

My fun weekend group trail ride was not fun. We ran into 4 separate ground wasp nests in a 2.5 hour ride. Remind me this time next year to give the forest trails a pass. Those wasps are grumpy and looking for a fight, because why else would they build their nests in the middle of a very busy trail? Our poor horses all got stung multiple times :(

Here's a not-so-kind piece of trailcraft/learning opportunity - the first horse passing over the nest rarely gets stung. If you're last you're more likely to get the worst of it. So, my suggestion to you: in desperate times, race your "friends" home ;)

Your firearms are useless against them. In all seriousness, we were all fine and no one was too traumatized. We're all still friends. Bridget won the race though  ;)
On the plus side, there were no wasps in the arena tonight, so my lesson was an instant win over the previous day's ride.

I don't know why I do this, but prior to every lesson I get a little weird about running through possible excuses in my mind to skip it. Everything from being tired (Mondays are super long days for me) to Negative T whispering I'm wasting time or money because I'll never get better.

And then every week, I suck it up, go ride, then come here and am all "OMG best lesson ever! I love Audrey! I love my coach! I'm learning so much! This is the best use of my time/money!" Every. Time. Its never not been fun. I have never sucked so bad my coach has fired me. I'm never so tired that I'm sleepy or unable to learn. There haven't even ever been wasps or other angry wildlife there ;)

Basically, my brain's before lesson arguments are invalid, and yet I continue to give them air time. Dumb brain.

Bridget, probably : "why even ride at all? Horses make excellent house pets"

Anyway, in the interest of keeping this entry a reasonable length, I'll finish up with a quick recap of what we did in our lesson:

-Worked on unlocking the base of Audrey's neck to start. Lots of walk and trot moving her neck inside, outside, up, down, while keeping a consistent forward tempo and a soft bend through her body around my inside leg. Shoulders stay straight on the circle, neck flexes independently of her body. Same as what I do with Bridget in warm up.

-Moving forward to shoulder in alternating with travers in trot, around the arena with intermittent 10m circles to help establish angle if needed. This was an excellent mental exercise for me as the bend stays the same, just the angle of where I'm placing her on the circle changes (travers the haunches are inside track on the circle, shoulder in places the front end on the inside track.)

-Putting those pieces together in the canter. Lots of shoulder in and travers alternating, figure eight pattern using full arena. Straighten across center, flying change, back to shoulder in and travers on circle.

Fun. Fun. FUN. I appreciate that EC and Audrey are both of the opinion that my mistakes are really not a big deal. EC commented a few weeks ago that I'm balanced enough and don't interfere/get uptight so that Audrey just does whatever it is she thinks I asked for. Shes not stressed because as far as shes concerned she's doing a good job. So basically, sometimes I fail in communicating what I want so badly that Audrey can't even tell, lol. Goals :)

In seriousness, I do feel like EC's giving me a bit of a license to just play with Audrey and have fun. She's offering me tips and hints and correcting me when I go wrong,  but also letting me figure out and think things through independently a bit, rather than really trying to coach play by play style and talk me through each detail. Even if that means I get it wrong and mess it up sometimes. Super cool, because I feel like I'm learning almost more from the mistakes than from the times I get it right.

Bridget cares not how I ride, only that I bring treats.


  1. Ugh, wasps! I love that you are having fun! And that exercise looks great. :)

    1. I feel like it's one of the ones that feels far more complicated to the rider than the horse.

  2. Wow, thattrailride does not sound like fun :( glad you guys are alright. I always do that about lessons as well and then when I go I always have the best time. Brains are weird

  3. Oh sweet lord those wasps would terrify me! I had a very similar attitude about lessons at Coach D's on lesson horses (looking for reasons not to go and then happy I did) so that rang so true to me. I have no idea what that's about but pushing through it is so worth it :)

    1. Plus side - It might actually make the lessons MORE fun, since the initial lead up is less than positive feeling :)

  4. K, I am also the same way with lessons, haha. I always want to cancel, but then once I'm there I have so much fun

  5. so glad you're enjoying the lessons, even if leading up to them you don't always feel that way!

  6. Ugh the Wasps have been absolutely awful here too this year!! I have some very classy decorations of old bottles with stale beer and hot dogs floating in it all throughout my barn yard and Sierra still seems to get stung about once a week! Luckily we had a killing frost the other night and it knocked their numbers down significantly.

    Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling that way about lessons, lol! Unfortunately, they're a necessary evil and I always feel better afterward!

  7. WASP = BIG NOPE. How scary :( Those exercises look cool, hopefully I can do something like that with Dante this winter (yay lateral work)