Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Survived My First Lesson!



I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on a drizzly Saturday with an awful migraine wannabe. OH NO! I can't miss my first lesson! I got up, ate something, took Advil, and went back to sleep.


Luckily, I felt better a few hours later and was able to rouse myself and get ready to head to the stable. It was an early lesson so I was the only one there besides the instructor and a stall cleaner.


After reviewing my past experience and what I wanted to get from the lessons, the instructor debated what horse to put me on. I told her I had no problem with her having me ride a beginner horse and assessing my riding ability. After all, I know instructors probably have plenty of students show up that say, "Oh, I've ridden before." Meaning, they rented horses while on a vacation in Colorado. I am fairly comfortable admitting I am an intermediate level rider, but wanted her to be the judge. And, since it was my first lesson and I was a little nervous (but not as nervous as I thought I might be) I figured I'd rather start gently and work my way up!



Since I was 1)new to saddleseat, 2)knew how to post, and 3)haven't ridden much this winter, she put me on a "Steady Eddie" Arabian in his twenties, a retired western pleasure show horse. She did put a cutback saddle on him, but used an English bridle with a kimberwick bit and one set of reins.



I have no pictures from the first lesson, but I am hoping to feel comfortable asking the instructor to take some of me in the future. After she gets back from Scottsdale, Paint Girl is going to come watch one of my lessons so she can see what I'm doing and I will have her snap some photos and video.



The horse in this picture is not the horse I rode. I found a random photo on the web that looked like him. The horse I rode was completely grayed out, almost pure white, with large dark eyes and a long white mane and tail. You know, I think this lesson was the first time I have actually ridden a purebred Arabian!




I have to tell you, it was very cute, she started me out on the longe line! A few rounds at the trot and she said okay, I can take you off the longe line. It's obvious you know how to ride!


The Arabian, being a western horse, needed a lot of encouragement to move forward from a western jog to a trot. It is not easy to post on a slow trotting horse! I was trying to get the position in the cutback saddle figured out. You sit back in the saddle. Roll the thighs in (it's all in the thighs) keep the calves off the horse, your weight on the ball of your foot, in your big toe. Lift your ribs! So much to remember. I have no muscle tone from lack of riding. At one point she had me try, and I say try, a two-point, I could not even stand up in the stirrups for more than 2 seconds! Sad!



At times, I felt like a bumbling idiot, loosing a stirrup or bouncing around or on the wrong diagonal. I think I felt worse than I looked. We are always our own worst critics. The instructor told me I did very well, she said she's had students ride in a cutback for the first time who have their legs swinging all over.


But the Steady Eddie's canter, oh golly! I loved it! For all the issues I have with cantering, I could have cantered him all day! Nice smooth lope, he stayed in it, it was slow (but not his western show horse lope.) I felt like I was on a carousel horse. I've decided my issue is not with loping, but with loping my horse! His lope is not comfortable nor is the speed consistent. Something I need to work on.


Overall, it was a good lesson. I enjoyed the instructor, I felt she gave me good information and critique, as well as praise and encouragement when I was on-target. I have a lot of muscle strength to build. I also tend to over analyze everything I'm doing, I need to just relax.


Once I get on a Saddlebred, a horse that is more upright, she said I won't have my leaning forward issues as the horse's head will be raised and you'll naturally sit back (steady Eddie had a western head set.) The more advanced lesson horse will have a much faster trot and momentum, which will help propel that post. To the point she said I would have to remember to sit down!


I'm not going to be able to take lessons very frequently due to finances, so, my learning curve will be slow. I can practice the leg positions on My Boy, even in a western saddle. The instructor said riding in a cutback is a lot like riding in a western saddle. Although, she said a cutback saddle does nothing for you. She said it's all you- you have to do all the work!


And let me tell you, I am suffering. I am feeling the work! I am walking like an old lady today. It's better when I keep moving. If I sit down for any length of time then get up....yowsa!


For the next lesson or two I get to ride the Arabian again. After that, we'll see if I get to ride the horse she calls a "pistol."


Uh-oh!


What have I gotten myself into?

38 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Can't wait to hear about the next lesson.

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  2. Firsts are always nerve wracking! I am glad you had a good and fun experience!
    Congratulations!

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  3. Albert has a walk jog that is to die for!! I remember when I was having trouble posting and I actually didn't want to do it for awhile and I talked to Phyliss and she finally figured it out, like you said I wasn't going fast enough and letting the momentum of the horse lift you. Boy what a difference. Yea, posting can make your legs sore. Phyliss used to make me trot standing up, and ride with my feet out of the stirrups. I know one thing she really taught me balance. Keep up the good work!

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  4. I have empathy with you..I rode a hour hour up and down, my longest ride in 2 weeks and feel it in my upper back! I don'r use my leggs anymore for climbing, Habe learned to use my pelvis and boy does that make a difference for ups and downs! Good for you! I hope you continue as finances allow to have this growth with your riding. By the way...I thought that your lope problem was "your Boy's" lope. When it is not smooth and steady, it is hard to ride in an arena. However out on the flat it is much easier. Wish you were here...we would practice!!!

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  5. Sounds like a great lesson...Thanks for the tips on posting. I always learn something from you guys sharing. I'm sure she was impressed with your abilities and I look forward to hearing about the future lessons with pictures!

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  6. I am so glad you enjoyed your first lesson, and I can't wait to come see you ride! I also can't wait til you move up to the "pistol" horse!!

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  7. Glad you enjoyed your first lesson, hopefully you'll be having more soon.

    The lope thing... is MB collected and balanced when you lope? I know that when Applejack isn't properly warmed up he tends to not collect as nicely and he can be rough as all get out. Then once he's warmed up he becomes all soft, balanced, and his lope smooths right out.
    Also, not sure if you're up for this, some horses feel a bit 'confined' in an arena. A nice, open stretch of trail might free up his movement.

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  8. cool! I am glad your lesson went well. I think the more you will be able to relax the less pain you will have afterwards. It is all about relaxing your body, "sitting back" and "lifting the horse up" in your mind (so that it will take most of it's own and the riders weight on the hindquarters).
    Once you are able to manifest a picture in your head about how you want to sit on your horse and how you want it to move, the body will follow. It is all about focus in my opinion.
    You might want to keep that in mind also when riding (loping) your own horse. He's got very nice hindquarters, and when he learns to use them properly he will be nice to ride, even in canter.
    Personally I don't care for saddleseat-riding at all, simply because it doesn't look natural to me, but I am sure there are serious people out there doing a good job with it.
    I hope you future lessons will be fun, I am sure they will help you become a better rider, no matter if you keep riding western or not.
    :))

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  9. That's awesome, PG. And I have just one word for you: Aleve!

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  10. Well DONE PG... was with you all the way. Gosh its been decades since I had lessons... and if only my knees would work again, I'd love to do it all again! Can you tell me what a 'cutback' saddle is? Is it like an English saddle?
    :-)
    BB

    PS A game on at my place if you are up for it!

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  11. Sounds like fun - not the sore thighs! Ugh! Keep up the great work.

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  12. Sounds like you had a great lesson!

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  13. This is soooo interesting! What is a two-point? And what do you mean by a cut back saddle? And I know 'posting' is rising to the trot. When we teach riding here, it is the hardest thing for a pupil to grasp, and can take many lessons. Once you've got that, the rest is comparitively easy, it just takes nerve to try your first canter, because you think it's going to be fast, but it isn't at all really. Hope you get another go soon and some piccies.

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  14. Sounds like fun. Theres no saddleseat riders around here for hours.

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  15. Sounds like you had lots of fun. Can't wait to see pictures next time.

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  16. {cdncowgirl}~ I agree with you, about being confined in an arena. I have issues holding my horse in the lope in the small arena at home (on the longe line as well as under saddle.) However, in the summer, when we use the HUGE arena where we camp with our horses, he lopes out fine (and so do I.) Part of it is his muscles are not built up for loping. So it feels fast and like he can't hold himself together while almost in a constant turn. It is one of my goals this spring/summer, to get him into good shape. He was in good shape last year, but I want him in better shape this year.

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  17. Yeah!!!!!! I know you are as sore as all get out but doesn't it feel kinda good in a sick way?

    I've had problems loping/cantering on just about every horse I've ever rode until we got our Stanley. I don't think it's any smoother, I just know he won't go too fast or take off - ever. Total trust. On other horses I usually get nervous enough that I have to think about breathing. One trainer made me sing the alphabet song out loud! But I admit it did help. MB might think you are a bit weird if you start belting out songs when cantering him but it might help you relax enough to trust him more.

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  18. Good for you! It's neat that you live in an area where you can experience different styles of riding.

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  19. Smart girl! asking for the steady eddie to start ! enough to think about in a lesson without a "pistol " on your first ride. Sounds like a good lesson ,glad you enjoyed it

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  20. I know what you mean. Lily has a pretty rushy canter initially, but when she's ridden more it smooths out. Knowing you can ride both makes it less scary, though.

    My boy has a nice quiet lope. When I'm ready I want to get him up to another gear. Right now I'm happy driving in 3rd gear. :D

    I've never heard of a cutback saddle either.

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  21. Congrats! Glad it went well.

    Had to LOL about the "Oh, I've ridden before." Meaning, they rented horses while on a vacation in Colorado comment!

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  22. Congrats! So glad to hear it went well! That is nice that your instructor is gradually easing you into it rather than throwing everything at you all at once. Get used to the position and keeping your legs under yourself in the cutback saddle, sitting back and up, hands up off the withers (I know, it feels like you have nothing to balance on, especially with a low-necked horse, it will feel better when you get on a horse with a higher head carriage), then you'll have less new obstacles to manage when you ride in a standard training bridle with 2 sets of reins. Practice on My Boy and get your riding muscles toned up for your next lesson! Congrats!

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  23. So jealous! What a great experience. I'm so excited for you and this new adventure. We went on an adventure ourselves yesterday, which I'm sure you would be jealous of; gathering and driving cattle back home to the ranch. They had gotten out through a section of down fence. Will have pictures soon. I hope you get some pictures soon too! Can't wait until you're competing!!!! (Yes, I said it, I think that's where this'll go)

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  24. I loved reading about your lesson. I have often thought that saddleseat would be something I would like to try. I cannot wait to hear about when you are on a fast trotter! That will be fun to read about. I sure wish my Lilly had a smooth and easy canter 100% of the time! Maybe I should breed her with Steady Eddie! hah!

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  25. How fun! Thanks for sharing. How come every other horse has the "to die for" canter but our own? I feel the same way! LOL!

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  26. I used to describe riding in my cutback as bareback with stirrups. It's funny, though, it eventually became my favorite saddle. I think you'll like the feel of riding a real saddleseat type horse with it's neck coming straight up in front of you. It's a cool feeling! Sounds like you had an awesome lesson.

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  27. Sweet! It's so cool that you're doing this! I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. I hope you do get to post some photos soon of you and Steady Eddie.

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  28. LOL.... lunges my friend. 50 deep lunges every day. I promise it will help.

    I do mine walking, walk briskly 5-10 minutes, then 10 walking lunges on each step, 10 each leg. Then brisk walking again, lunge, walk, lunge.

    You will be glad you did.

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  29. Congratulations on your first lesson! Keep up the (hard but) good work!

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  30. Great job! I would be sore too! Sounds like a good ride to me! My instructor always told me I needed to drink A beer before I ride then I might be more relaxed and have some fun! Well, I'm afraid 1 would not do the trick!lol.....I didn't. We are our worst critics but I do believe some personality types fret more than others....hey I'm going to do a post on that! Thanks for your fun question! I answered it today if you want to check it out! Have a fun week!

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  31. Cool! I love taking lessons and learning something new! Never heard of a cutback saddle before. And they say that horseback riding isn't exercise... Last fitness eval my leg strength was rated at the 99th percentile for women my age and I still need more leg strength at times. Can't wait for the pictures and stories about the next lesson. I think saddle seat would scare me.

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  32. Hi Ponygirl,

    I just saw your comment. Thank you. I've certainly miss all of you sweet bloggers. Not sure what I'm going to do about the blog. Your blog header looks great. Okay. I'm off to poke around your blog some and see what you've been up too. Thanks again!

    Hugs,
    Crystal

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  33. Sounds like you had a great lesson. I guess I am not a canter person either. I always prefer a solid working trot or jog.

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  34. And you didn't even complain about the flat slick saddle! Just wait 'til you get on a Saddlebred! You'll love it!

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  35. Pony Girl you won the give-a-way....there were no more questions today so I want to get started on the artwork....ride on over!

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  36. Oh boy! I can't wait to see pics of you on one of those big, snorty Saddlebreds. I've ridden some high-tailed show horses, and it's a blast. You won't have to remind yourself to smile for the camera.

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  37. That sounds so fun!! Can't wait to read about your ride on a Saddlebred tho- I'm a sucker for a Saddlebred. :)

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I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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