11.03.19: Reriding

After having a very long winter off, Anne decided to get Tali back into lessons again. Since they were out of town, Anne asked me to take care of her lesson. I was glad to be able to work her for her first time back after so much time off, and had no idea what to expect out of it. I hauled every piece of gear down to the arena that I thought we might need, including leaving the balance bands attached to the saddle that I currently had set up for Storm. Kirsten was actually pleased to see them on the saddle, and set about adjusting them for Tali's size. I was impressed that they were able to be shortened enough for Tali and yet still able to be long enough for Storm, too.
Kirsten recommended that I walk her around for a while in each direction to see how she would react to the restriction and support of the elastic bands. She experimented quite a bit as we made our way around the arena in a wide circle, but seemed to really appreciate the support, and was already showing positive changes in her posture and balance as a result. We made several laps to the right as she settled in, and finally changed direction to check out the other side. It was as if she hadn't walked in the bands at all, she stopped, and took slow tentative steps forward, one foot at a time. Finally she found her legs again and was able to keep moving forward and we continued our laps as she found her feet again. Kirsten suggested that we shorten the front reins, and noted that she seemed to really like the additional support. We worked until she seemed to settle into the rhythm again, and Kirsten recommended that we go ahead and start riding.
I got everything set up and climbed up and it took us a while to get organized enough to function together again. We started out rather wobbly, and the steering was almost non-existent. She was continually wiping out to the inside, and I was unable to regain the balance to keep from tipping into the circle with her. Kirsten was able to offer us support by walking ahead, and having Tali follow her, which to my relief worked to give Tali something to focus on to keep from perpetuating the capsizing inward cycle. It helped me to get my bearings and find the ball and then work to manipulate it to help her find her balance again. Having not ridden her for more than 5 months meant that the muscle memory was a bit fuzzy. Once we were off and moving on our own a little better, Kirsten was able to stop walking circles through the arena and let Tali and I find our own way. I managed to find the hang of moving and finding the ball continually as we were in motion. With the balance bands on it changed some of her movement patterns, and things were not as familiar to me. I begin to struggle when the ball gets to a point where it is more subtle rather than the gross imbalances that are the norm in the beginning.
We settled out to the left and I was actually able to start doing more guiding rather than being completely subject to the whims of her balance. When we turned to go to the right we lapsed back into having problems again. I just couldn't manage to keep my weight to the outside enough. Kirsten was directing me to help rebalance, but even being super aware of it wasn't actually affecting the change. Finally, I remembered that when I need to push the left side down I also have to think of pulling the right side up. With my lifelong issue of weakness on the left, my brain can not find the power to "push" down on the left side and believe that it is effective. But when I think of pulling up on the right side things magically fall into place. Well, not quite magically, but it works. The change in Tali was instant, and I was able to get the soft control back again to guide her rather than she wandering and capsizing repeatedly.
Our ride was really good, and Tali was able to hold herself together for about 45 minutes, which is much longer than most of our other rides. We have rarely ridden longer than half of the lessons that we have had before. I was pleased with her progress, and look forward to getting back into the saddle more frequently now that the weather is warmer.
Next Page:
11.03.20: Onward and Upward
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