A Lesson & Goals

When I left you last, I had a lesson looming. The day after my lesson, I left town for a few days for some R&R. The R&R was semi-successful but it broke down like this:

Day 1 – 11 hours driving, dinner in the city
Day 2 – touring the city, out for drinks that evening
Day 3 – 11 hours driving, crash upon arriving home

So it wasn’t so much R&R as it was just getting away but I suppose it served its purpose. But you don’t really want to hear about that; you’re here to read about my lesson, I’d imagine.

As it turns out, the trainer I took a lesson with is someone who Karen from Contact works with. I worked my normal day, changed in a restroom, and then rushed to this new farm amidst Derby parade traffic. I made it there on time, although my schedule and Karen’s didn’t match up this time, I’m pretty sure I spotted the handsome Hampton in his field.

As it turns out, I’d be riding a solid citizen named Pirate, who I did not manage to sneak any pictures of. Pirate is a bay Thoroughbred gelding whom I was told would take care of me but test me at the same time. I immediately liked Trainer upon meeting her in person and we chatted lightly while I tacked Pirate up. As luck would have it, Trainer’s saddle was stolen so I took my dressage lesson in a jumping saddle. Not ideal but it got the job done.

We headed up to the dressage arena and Trainer told me to just get to know Pirate so she could watch me. For a Thoroughbred, Pirate’s gates weren’t all that lofty which was good for me because I’m very much out of riding shape. After I confessed that I had previously schooled all of first level and pieces of second, Trainer asked me to make some adjustments and see how Pirate did. As I’ve basically only ridden babies for the past six years (has it been that long?), my riding has become very defensive. I used to have soft, following hands but it took some work to get my hands and elbows out of baby-green-horse-don’t-kill-me mode.

Overall, I was thrilled with the lesson. I rode for a solid hour, trotting and cantering. My groin muscles are still cursing me but it was worth every minute. I’m going to experiment with how to recap lessons as I definitely intend to continue. For now, let’s see how a list format works:

  • In the trot, I post very quickly – as soon as my butt hits the saddle, it’s off again. This is likely from riding Arabians for years and years. I worked to slow down my tempo; Pirate was a much happier camper when I accomplished this.
  • In the canter, I need to leg go of the horse’s face. In Pirate’s case, he was not going to run off with me. In a really cool moment, Trainer had me ask for the canter and then throw my reins up to his ears and ride only from my seat and legs. In response, Pirate gave me the most beautiful and round canter. I’m sure I was grinning like an idiot.
  • I need to get out of the habit of using verbal cues. Again, from breaking baby after baby, I use verbal cues on dead broke horses without even thinking about it. I need to quit cheating.
  • To my own surprise, I remember how to leg yield and even did some while trotting circles to sit more on his hind leg.
  • I need to work on achieving more bend with my inside rein. My inside leg/outside rein aid is definitely still there.
  • Apparently Pirate has a “trick” where tracking right, he will hop out of the arena if you try to steer him with your inside rein. I’m proud to say that we remained firmly in the arena – until the end of the lesson when we walked on the buckle in the large jump field<3

I think the lesson was a huge success and though I had to take a few walk breaks because of my lack of stamina, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to achieve in an hour. When we were getting started, Trainer asked me what my goals were. Originally, I told her I’d like to get my bronze medal. I mentioned that I’d like to do this in five years, thinking this was reasonable. Thankfully, she was honest with me and warned me against getting stuck and becoming a Training Level Professional (and I know exactly what she is talking about). She said I’d have my bronze well before five years. In regards to my own mare, Nibbles, I wanted to take her out at Intro in 2014. I told her I wasn’t really sure what my ultimate goal with Nibbles is. And I don’t.

Which brings me to the big point of what has been bothering me: What is my goal with horses? It used to be to run a small breeding program and show when I could. I had that breeding program and was forced to sell it (and still am). After dabbling in the market, I know I no longer want to try to breed and/or sell in the horse world. I want to be able to enjoy my horse(s) and not worry about making a profit from them.

So what’s my goal? I told trainer I honestly didn’t know at this point. This was very frustrating to me. In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to ride a competent Grand Prix test one day. I’m not delusional enough to want to go to the Olympics (kudos to anyone with that dream!) but I’m also way too competitive to not compete.

My dreams and goals are very much a work in progress. More posts to come I’m sure. Readers, help me out – what is your goal with horses? Why or how did you come to decide on that goal?

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4 thoughts on “A Lesson & Goals

  1. Karen says:

    So happy to hear you enjoyed your lesson! Pirate is such a cool dude! 🙂 As far as goals, I tend to set short term and long term goals. I do enjoy competing so some of my goals are based on that. BUT, I am also someone who just enjoys my horse so I do not make competitions my total focus.Maybe your short term goal with Nibbles is work your way into Training Level this year. Maybe be schooling First Level by fall? That is sort of how I went about things with Hampton. My long term goal is show him in a PSG and get my silver medal.

  2. Tracy says:

    I realized a long time ago that I was never going to be good enough to be a pro… and that I loved every horse too much to ever make them into a business. So my goals tend to be shorter term: right now I want to move up to 2’6″. In the long run? I want to jump as high as I’m comfortable with; I enjoy the challenge of pushing my boundaries, albeit very slowly, and I know I love to compete. I’ve definitely found my niche in the Hunters, so I’m happy to stay there and branch out every once in a while to include an Equitation Class or Hunter Derby.

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