11.05.22: Down Again

Early lessons make for an early start, and Storm and I got ours getting ready for our 8:00 lesson. I pulled him out of the pasture and got him tacked up, checking in with Kirsten to evaluate the pad combination that I used at our ride the Monday before. She confirmed that it was a good choice and so I finished tacking up and we headed down to the arena to get started. Nancy and Kirsten arrived shortly after we did once Nancy had her new saddle and pads correctly organized. It was a new fit for all of us!
I set Storm up with the balance bands and sent him out on the circle to get started, and allowed him a lap or so to get settled before I asked him to move up into the trot. He was really putting a lot of effort into the movement and twisting his head and neck experimenting with the feeling and sensations. I finally asked for the canter and he gave his usual squeal, but moved up into the canter without too much fuss. Once he found the speed, he began to experiment with the upward transition on his own, often trotting faster and faster until he cantered. It wasn't super balanced, but there was less fan-fare about it than he had been putting up before. The canter is improving, and it is still working to help improve the trot that much more. I was beginning to see some really good steps out of him, including getting into posture 3 for strides at the trot and walk rather than cheating into posture 2B. He was having more trouble working to the left than he had the right, which is his pattern of the moment. Kirsten recommended that I leave him at the walk to allow him more time to work out the kinks and find more stability in his hind end. He got steadier as he worked and she suggested that I climb up.
I got settled in and began working while she spent quite a bit of time with Nancy to help her find the correct position and balance for herself in her new saddle. Once Kirsten was satisfied that Nancy had enough to boggle her brain, she checked in with me and actually dropped my stirrups one more hole! Now they really felt long! She let me know that there was still plenty of bend in my knee, even if I didn't feel like it was there. I began to ride and adjust to the new feeling and work to adapt the sensations. Kirsten informed me that Storm was still tipping me down to the left, and had me move more of my weight to the right, and more, and more, and a little more! I felt like there was nothing on the left anymore at all! She reminded me to check in with the feeling of pulling up on the left, and let me know that at that point there really wasn't anything on the left, but there didn't need to be. We worked for a while asking him to move over and continue working him to get him to shift the ball so that he could balance correctly. He was slowly getting it, and so Kirsten encouraged me to work on stepping his hind legs up until we accidentally trotted. Oops! I began to experiment and had trouble holding the trot at first, which is probably just as well. He went smoothly into the trot, but as soon as he shifted gaits I ended up off balance again having trouble finding the right rhythm to rise in. My left stirrup was also flopping all over the place, which in my internal reaction was not a good feeling, and as such I tried to put a little weight back in my left side to balance everything, but then the trot went all over the place. When I told Kirsten what was happening she said that there shouldn't be any weight int he stirrup, so it would flop around, and recommended that I "tap" my foot in it to help it stay in the correct position while keeping all of my weight on the right side. Oi!!
I managed to get things sorted out a little better and find some consistency for a while so that we could actually stay outward on the circle rather than abruptly making small circles in the middle of the arena. There were several fleeting moments of strong steps before they were gone again.
We finally changed direction to work to the left for a while, but we were fast running out of time. I was unable to really get some thoughtful practice in with the trot to the left, and found the same problem I had during my last ride - he was falling into the middle of the circle HARD, so obviously my weight shift was entirely ineffective. I don't know if I have a problem mentally or physically shifting that much weight into my left side, but I suspect that it is a combination of both. Thankfully due to the holiday in June, Kirsten will be back one week early so we'll have one less week to wait to get a good answer!!
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11.05.27: AT Lesson: Finding the Spine