11.05.21: Long Time Coming

A surprise phone call from Anne resulted in me taking care of Tali's lesson for her. I was really glad for the opportunity to be able to have Kirsten check out my saddle since I widened it for Storm to make sure that I could pad it correctly so that Tali would also be comfortable. I pulled out every one of the pads that I had and figured I would put them all on and put on the saddle so I didn't have to carry anything down by hand. Kirsten looked over things, and surprisingly enough, she said that having all of the pads under the saddle was just right. I was relieved that it worked out that easily and got Tali set up in the balance bands.
We got started and to my delight she was really doing well finding her balance and working hard. I was a bit worried that she was going to do nothing but fall into the circle the whole time, but she managed to find her balance and stay out on the circle a bit better as she made her laps. It took her a while to really relax, but eventually she found some steadiness and rhythm and was able to keep a slower but consistent pace. We worked for a while to the left and then switched to the right, and she was able to find a little more consistency a little bit faster. I was pleased that after so much time of not doing this kind of focused work she was right back into it where we left off.
After allowing her to settle in to the balance bands and work again, I climbed up to ride. I asked Kirsten to check my stirrups because after my last ride with Storm it wasn't until later that it dawned on me that part of my issue may have been that my stirrups were shorter. Riding at Kirsten's meant that we set the stirrups on her saddle, and it obviously wasn't where mine were set on my saddle. She dropped them down two holes and it felt significantly more comfortable that much longer. I was able to sit still on Tali and recreate the same position without moving that I had when riding in Florida.
We set out to work, and it took me a little bit to get the hang of Tali's pinball games again. Riding her is the opposite of riding Prima, and trying to get myself into the hang of the corrections took a little while.  I was slowly finding the rhythm and managing the ball but then she threw her curve ball at me. She has this nifty little way of doing a super wipe out and falling to the low side, rather than to the high side of the ball. When she does this she really contorts into a funny shape, which makes me think that the ball is on the other side. When the feedback gets so jumbled for me I can't figure out where the ball went, and the only thing I have left to go on is the direction she's falling. When I attempt to make a correction it doesn't work and she gets worse, which results in me getting frustrated. It took a long time of Kirsten working with me to try to get me to feel where the ball was, and quite a while of me being confused, and eventually resorting to poking at some different things before the pieces finally began to come back together. It was a really big struggle for me to get through that wall. It was something that we hadn't ever fully addressed with Tali, and somehow I had skirted around it, but it needed to be corrected. In the least, I feel more confident in trying another option when whatever combination of corrections doesn't work. Ever so slowly I was able to get her to make round circles again without making a giant pointed angle through the center of the arena. This is one of the hardest lessons I've had to accomplish with Tali, but I know in the end it will vastly improve my riding. I am just grateful to the little mare for putting up with me and allowing me the gift of learning so that I can help her and other horses after her.
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11.05.22: Down Again