Aria, Cracker Jack & Potatoes

I was supposed to have a lesson on Sunday but it was coming down pretty hard in San Diego and I used that as an excuse to cancel so I could spend a day relaxing. Plus, while I’m very confident in my driving skills and the intimidation factor of my big car, with my hands and eyes not working 100%, I didn’t want to put my trust in the other drivers on the road for over 160 wet miles. Not that my Sunday was totally uneventful. I had to muscle Valeria and Catalina into a barn stall because they were wet and shaking when I went out to check on them. They have a 12’x24’ shade on their outdoor stall and chose to not stand under it. I can’t even get mad at Catalina because she’s just following her mom’s stupid lead. Lol. I only wish I had gotten pictures of C looking like a drowned rat. It was adorably pathetic.

He wants to cuddle with them so badly.

To make up for my laziness, that one day was going to bite me in the butt (it did! I missed out on seeing Dante. All the tears), I scheduled a make-up lesson for Monday afternoon. It was cold down here but 20 degrees warmer and super windy in Norco. I used to get all worried about the wind because it’s hardly windy in San Diego but Aria doesn’t seem to mind it anymore. On occasions something new will move or the big, hanging, metal dressage letters will slam against the arena fence and scare her a little but it’s not anything that some inside leg or a quick ‘good girl’ doesn’t settle. She ran her face into ‘A’ when I was lunging her the other day, because heat cycles + stallions, and acted like it was my fault for not steering her clear of it. Psh!

My view all last week.

It took all my will power to do anything on Monday. I woke up with a lot of pain in my hands, despite being on a prescribed anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories seem like a bunch of bullshit to me. They don’t seem to do anything other than make it worst (edit: this is exactly what my research has found! Justice!). My back was hurting in the same place it was when I hurt it back in January, thank you anti-inflammatories! Also, my feet felt a lot like my hands, stiff and swollen and achy. To top it off I had a headache that developed while sitting in traffic. Before this sounds like I’m just bitching and complaining, I was very much looking forward to seeing Aria. She was definitely my ‘all this will totally be worth it’ motivation. Our last lesson was so great I couldn’t wait to ride her even though I felt like I was moving through molasses to get anything done.

There was a lot going on when I got to the barn. I changed into my riding clothes and found out that my lesson wasn’t until 5:30pm and it was 4:40pm. Yes! I’d go take a nap. Haha, yeah right…P asked me to get a pony named Cracker Jack for her next lesson. I made it all the way out to the ponies before I realized I didn’t know which one was Cracker Jack. I knew he was a gelding. I thought he might be a red or brown pony but the only ponies in that color I recognized as Poptart and Tabasco. I stood there for a moment knowing if I just spun my rolodex for a few seconds I’d remember which pony was Crack Jack.

Nope! I trudged back to the lesson arena and asked which pony I was looking for. After snagging Cracker Jack the buckskin pony, I brought him in to the arena to get groomed and saddled. As I passed off his lead rope I was given two sets of reins with a request to return Hashbrown and Tatertot to their pen. I haven’t seen the fjords in a while so I was more than happy to trek them to their turnout. Plus Smallfry came up to great me as well. It was a potato reunion!

Is this as great as I thought it was?

By the time I made it back it was time for my lesson. P told me Aria had turned a corner over the weekend. She was working very light and wasn’t offering the baby resistance we have had to deal with every ride. I could tell right away when I started lunging her because she was leaving slack in the line and I got some great stretches at the walk and trot. She got a little excited during the canter and when I turned her to go left she was super sticky. I had to put more effort into it because Aria doesn’t like idling for me like she will going right. Or maybe she was just reading my energy level and responding in kind because as always: Aria is lazy.

I used to hate lunging but now that I have a purpose behind why I’m lunging, not just to burn off energy, I actually spend a good amount of time getting Aria supple for a ride. She was playful but P told me to ignore that because lately she had been having fun on the lunge line but it wasn’t transferring to her rides. That would prove 100% true for this ride. I got on and flexed her. I’m not sure what has changed her but she didn’t screw around during flexing like she’s prone to doing.

We walked a little on and off the contact. I had her changing between shoulder in/out and then I asked for some turn on the forehands which were not great compared to our normal efforts. But her leg yields were nice and kept forward movement which has been really difficult for us to accomplish together. I picked up a trot on her good side and we worked on our geometry a little. Making a circle will forever be our issue until I can figure out what I’m doing wrong. My plan this weekend is to really focus on riding a circle every step. I think I’m not really riding when we’re along a fence line and it shows when we pull out towards the centerline. Maybe some 20 meter circles with X as the center would help so that we only touch the fence line at E and B?

I mean…I’m not saying I wouldn’t want that brand on my fancy Andalusian stallion…

P wasn’t really instructing me for this ride other than to let me know if I was doing something right or very wrong. She let me focus on the middle stuff on my own. When I felt like Aria and I were working well together at a trot I asked for a canter. This actually went really well considering I didn’t school her at all in the second half of the arena until I cantered her down the long side. She gave the back corner a hard side eye but otherwise we moved through there without any issue.

We were on the right lead, passing C and instead of continuing down the long side Aria cut diagonally M to K. My fault for not navigating, so we tried it again. Sure enough in the corner between C and M she headed for X. I nudged her to the rail and got a very wobbly line. Apparently P has been schooling the counter canter and Aria was anticipating crossing from M to K to pick up a counter canter from K and then at F shooting over to H, making one big figure 8. So then I spent a few laps keeping her on the rail before giving her a walk break (not because she needed it, but let’s pretend she did).

I picked up the trot going left with the goal of getting her flexed and working well to work on some left lead cantering because I really suck going left. We suck together at it, so at least we struggle together. It wasn’t meant to be though. The longer I worked on circles the more she would bulge. P kept telling me ‘you have to prep ahead of time. When you’re at K you need to be thinking about A’ to which I was internally saying ‘but I am! …Or I think I am.’ It got uglier and uglier every time, even with breaks, because my energy levels were totally gone.

horse-lie-down-on-cue

Me: This should be our speed. Aria: Okay.

I admitted defeat after I let Aria’s biggest bulge run the both of us right into the fence because I wasn’t applying a strong enough outside leg. But trust me, it wasn’t easy to let P take over for the last couple laps. I know, and I think Aria knew, if I had more stamina and strength that day I could have supported her better. I don’t pretend to know what my horse is thinking but Aria didn’t get worked up like she normally does which I equate to her understanding the situation. She just kept going around until I wanted to stop.

Despite the end not going as planned, she did really well, I enjoyed every moment of that ride, and I think she did too. I’m hoping this fatigue will eventually end but I don’t think that will happen until the reason for the mystery pain in my hands is resolved. Until then, maybe some vitamin B supplements are in order? For now I’ll just coast on the high I’m getting from these awesome rides. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Aria, Cracker Jack & Potatoes

  1. The lesson sounded like it was a definite improvement though. Don’t you love how they freaking anticipate? I can’t ask Scarlet for a simple change figure eight and actually have him wait for the cue. He will just do it himself.

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    • Yeah. When Aria starts anticipating I throw in halts and back ups. She’s not far enough along to throw quick changes to direction but eventually that will be part of the anti-anticipation method 🙂
      Also, I really want to start ride her in straight lines along the rail to stop the major corner cutting she’s currently doing at the canter (obviously only with me, my trainer would never put up with that shit lol).

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  2. It continues (still) (bc I’m still not doing it every time) (which is ridiculous bc when will I learn?!?) to amaze me that with my green horse I need to guide him to my desired line of travel *every stride*. Bc…. He will just leave the rail. Or go crooked. Or weave and wobble hither and yon. Or decide the exit stage left (always left. Always. Unless it’s right. Idk). Like. We get so so so used to horses that like…. DONT bump into walls that…. At least for myself, I kinda forget that some of that is a learned skill. And the greener they are, the farther in advance we need to be planning that line of travel. Apparently. (So says the girl who had a judge write “Practice” on the accuracy and geometry portion of a recent test lol). Good luck!

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    • Omg yes! I just told P that it’s so hard to go from an automatic to a manual. Riding every step and remembering to ride every step is so difficult. I personally didn’t know that a green horse wouldn’t just go in a marginally straight line in the direction you last pointed it in.
      And yes, weave and wobble higher and yon pretty much hits the nail on the head.

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