On Sunday I haul my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn to make an early lesson to beat the heat that I rode in on Saturday. Although it wasn’t really a lesson because I aimlessly worked on lateral movement while P and I chatted most of the time. It’s not often that P and I get adult time to chat because there’s always kids or other clients that require a certain level of professionalism. It was also good for Aria to get some exposure to a rider that is only half paying attention. A few times I stopped riding all together and she just stood patiently listening to us. I guess she didn’t get restless because she felt she was part of the conversation. Although P was eating an apple and Aria always gets the core when P is done, so perhaps she just knew a treat was coming. Lol. It was great to feel her settle under me.Oh, it’s worth mentioning that I hardly lunged Aria for this ride. Which is great. I’m not a fan of using lunging to kill off energy. I’d rather use it as a tool to warm her up, loosen her stiff muscles, and get a few nice transitions before getting on. She’s turning into a great horse and I think in turn I’m becoming a more proactive rider. I read something a while back that said riding dressage is training dressage. I never remember to bookmark this stuff but if I find it be sure to link it. My hope is that I will eventually be skilled enough to do the majority of the work on Catalina, leaving just the initial saddle breaking and first 30 days to a pro. Aria is teaching me so much.
A set of kids showed up for their 9:00am lesson but at that point I hadn’t done more than walking and a couple minutes of trotting so I peeled off to the other side of the arena to ride on my own. On. My. Own. This is also the ‘scary’ side of the arena because there are a ton of chickens that are mostly not visible due to enclosures and vegetation on a neighbor’s property. If I trot or canter on this side Aria doesn’t react but when we walk she gets a little wide-eyed when we pass the chickens and tries to drift off the rail. Lots of ‘good girl’ is said when we pass because she gets a lot of confidence out of the praising and quickly dismisses the scariness. She’ll still look but she doesn’t spook and will get down to business if asked.
20 meter circles are only so fun and cantering them continuously is still not super easy for Aria. On occasions I would take a lap around the whole arena, trying to time it so that the lesson pony was on the opposite rail. These kids were brand new clients and I didn’t want them to worry about me and my horse. Although on one of my trips by P asked me to demonstrate a rising trot so I posted around in front of the lesson pony for a while until Aria’s attitude changed. I don’t know what thoughts were going through Aria’s head but I definitely got major vibes that she was jealous that P was working with the pony.Not wanting to flirt with the mistress that is a dramatic Spanish horse I went back to my side of the arena and cantered around for a while in our bad direction. It was difficult to get her to pick up the canter. Perhaps my cue wasn’t very clear or maybe my seat was wrong or maybe she was bent out of shape from that jealous spell but we eventually did get a rhythm and only ran over the mounting block once. Oops, but hey, baby has to learn to jump at some point! No. No. Don’t even for a second believe she jumped it. When I say ran over, I literally mean just that. It was a speed bump in our path. I’m lucky she didn’t trip and kill us. Lol. I ended my ride at that point because not only did we work her bad side but she was able to turn off her surly mood and get back to work. She got tons of praising during our cool down walk. I tried to let her stretch down into the contact but she likes to grab and root. It’s something that R finessed but P and I are still working on. At least I know she’s capable of doing it, I just need to work with her when she comes home. I might also want to work on her straight lines to ensure we don’t run over things as she noodles around. Haha. Overall, great ride. Almost 2 hours! I still need to work on my seat and cues a bit to make sure I’m giving clear directions but I definitely feel like I’m at a point where I could get up and ride without any supervision at this point. I am tentatively waiting for a ‘bad’ ride to see how we work together but at this point I think I am fully equipped with enough tools to work through a tough ride. Aria is growing up, she’s 5 now, and I’m so excited to meet the clever, level-headed mare she’s turning into.