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Bel Joeor Sale and Giveaway!

Amanda from Bel Joeor is hosting a big sale on her Etsy site and a giveaway on her blog!  She makes beautiful saddle covers and bags.  I highly recommend checking out her shop and entering her contest.  

My First Not-Ellie Riding Lesson

To be honest, this was my first not-my-own-horse riding lesson in a looooong while!  I rode my former instructor's Second level horse a couple times back in 2009 and 2010, and I regularly rode school horses when in college from 1997-2001.  So to ride a horse that is not my own in a lesson situation was definitely strange...and good!

No media from the lesson, but I will share a few pics so this isn't a hugely boring post haha.
an early Sunday morning ride with Miss Ellie
Beth had been mentioning all summer how she wanted to stick me on her daughter's twenty two year old Grand Prix horse and we decided we would wait for winter to do so.  Well, mostly I decided that because I wanted to lesson on Ellie all year haha.  I knew once winter hit and my driveway became unsafe for moving a trailer, I would be happy to ride the GP schoolmaster.  My last Ellie lesson was back at the end of November with the Ashley Madison clinic.  The first weekend of December I was supposed to take a jumping lesson instead of going to Beth's (that I had to bow out of anyway due to freezing rain) and then the second weekend this month was full with family obligations and a retirement party.

So. Two Saturdays ago I was finally able to schedule a lesson!  It also happened to be the barn's Christmas party at 1, so I planned to ride at 11.  Somehow we lucked out that the weather was GORGEOUS, after several days of freezing temps (down to -4 F one morning last week!) and Saturday was sunny and highs in the low 40s.  

how many barn kids does it take to hang decorations?
three plus a barn kitty
The mare I was able to ride is Taylor Rose, a sweet "American Warmblood" aka Thoroughbred x Percheron, who Laura showed and trained from Training through GP.  I remember watching Laura ride Taylor for many years when she was younger and loving the adorable mare.  Laura is eleven years younger than me and a beautiful rider (both of Beth's daughters are!) and I am very lucky she was willing to share her beloved mare with me. 

Taylor and Laura several years ago when they were still showing USDF
Taylor had a freak accident as a young horse, where her first owner pulled her stirrups down on the crossties and somehow Taylor kicked at a fly with her hind hoof and got her shoe stuck in the stirrup iron.  I cannot even imagine how horrifying that must have been.  Needless to say, Taylor doesn't cross tie safely and Laura has developed a specific way to saddle her (which involves patience and a lot of sugar cubes) in order to safely get the mare saddled.  Once she is saddled, she is totally fine.  So, Laura helped to show me the routine before my lesson, which is entirely doable and nothing I am worried about being able to replicate on my own.

The ring happened to be SUPER crowded, unlike most of my lesson slots have been all along so far.  This wasn't a problem, as it is good for me to ride with others in a more hectic, warm up like environment, since I always ride alone at home.  However, it was a little more tricky riding a brand new horse (who is 15.3 hands tall!) in a new to me saddle.  All was fine, I just needed to do a lot of thinking about where we were in space, never mind try to ride the horse properly haha.
another morning ride
The lesson was at the walk and trot this time, mostly because I was getting used to all Taylor's buttons and partially because she is not in the best shape.  She was ridden in a few half hour rides/lessons all summer by a lovely older rider, who has gone back to Texas for the winter.  So Taylor hasn't been in consistent work recently and is definitely a lot stiffer because of that.  

But it was amazing to ride a horse that is totally educated to the seat.  And a horse that is MUCH more educated than I am haha.  She is a kind and forgiving mare, but I still had to ride her correctly.  

The biggest thing I learned in the lesson was I don't have to nag.  Or at least, I should not be nagging a horse constantly with my leg to move her body in bending or lateral work.  With Taylor, I put my leg on, she did what I asked.  A few different times in the lesson, mostly at the trot, I found myself nag nag nag with my inside leg to get her to bend; she ignored me.  Now, if I put my leg ON once and asked for more bend, she did it.  Huh.


my three year old was playing in the tack room
and must've picked this out of the tack room "junk drawer"
I thought "that is a wired looking train" and then
I laughed so hard when I realized what it was
Granted, Ellie is NOT nearly as trained as Taylor, but I have GOT TO LEARN to ask once and not nag nag nag.  Because obviously a horse will eventually tune out the nagging.  This is not something new and certainly I have heard Beth tell me this with Ellie a million times.  But it is nice to ride a horse that knows more than me, so that when I do something correctly, SHE does it correctly.  I need to retrain myself so that I can more effectively train Ellie.  

We mostly walked and trotted and did a ton of shoulder in, haunches in, and half pass.  I have never ridden an actual half pass, so that was a treat.  I had a huge lightbulb moment once I figured out my aids and Taylor was lovely.  We spent so much time playing with lateral work we ran out of lesson time to do any canter work.  But honestly, that was OK.  I have plenty of time to play with her more in the next several months!
taking a walk down the driveway and the cat decided to come along
Sadly, I did not get a chance to lesson this past weekend, as I came down with strep throat on Friday and spent the ENTIRE day in bed on Saturday, except the short stint to the walk-in clinic to get the official diagnosis and to the pharmacy for antibiotics!  Uggg what a way to start the holiday weekend.  Thankfully, I was better by Sunday and back to feeling 100% by Christmas Eve day, so all was not lost!  But man, I have not been that sick in a long time!  Hopefully my kiddos and husband do not get it!

Comments

Sara said…
Taylor sounds like a great mare and an awesome opportunity to grow over the winter.
Nadia Novik said…
SO fun!! What an experience to ride such an accomplished horse! I felt this way when I rode Macy, my insructor's ex upper level eventer (execept with Macy theres lots of bolting and spooking). It's so fun to have a horse teach you a few things!
She is such a doll and definitely a good way to grow as a rider!
She is great because she makes you work for it, but she's not a fussy schoolmaster either. She is definitely a lot like Macy in that way, but minus the bolting and spooking haha.
TeresaA said…
That sounds like a great lesson. What a good idea to take lessons.
It was a great lesson for sure! I have been so busy with the holidays but hoping to take at least two more lessons in January!
L.Williams said…
It's fun and so beneficial to get our butts on other horses now and again
Yes! I have spent so much time on my own horses over the past fifteen years and I KNOW it hasn't been the best for me as a rider!