My standing Tuesday evening lesson started mid-winter when I was frustrated and hitting a brick wall. It started as just groundwork, evolved into flatwork and has settled in as my dressage lesson. I give huge credit to having that dedicated time to the improvement Archie and I have seen as a team and the fact that of my three event horses, he’s the one I can consistently keep the connection with the best. This week a friend asked if she could crash and another boarder has been dropping into it when she can, so it became a 6:15pm jump lesson which I was perfectly okay with in preparation for this weekend’s Sharon White clinic.
We warmed up over a small vertical, focusing on keeping the ride quiet and consistent, and from the first steps I could tell Archie came to play today. We had one weird moment where he suddenly stopped being able to function at all, but I pulled him up to see what was happening and realized somehow he’d managed to get a giant chunk of grass… in his eye? I literally do not know how. Issue resolved, we continued on, switched directions and got to work.
Sometime in the last week, they drug the liverpool out under one of the fences. I was 99.8% positive Archie had never seen one before (nor had the other two) so we spent some time just trotting over it by itself. He got ever so slightly looky to it the first time, realized it was boring and proceeded to hop over like nbd each time after. It got set to a starter-ish size vertical and we practiced coming down the line – liverpool to oxer, left handed rollback to a vertical, bending back to the liverpool, left turn back to a vertical, bending back to the oxer – kind of a figure 8 type pattern. From there, around to the two (aka an Archie three) stride, tight rollback to an oxer, bending to a vertical.
I realized this weekend a lot of my nerves come from worrying I can’t ride something. Perfect example: Archie was being an ass on Saturday and needed a reminder that adult, sane horses do not act that way. But my brain was going, as soon as I do that, he’s gonna lay me on my ass. The solution is (obviously) not to let him do whatever the hell he wants – the solution is I have to get stronger to ride the horse.
Archie genuinely loves stadium – the twisty, turny courses suit him so well and keeps his brain moving enough to quiet all the little voices. He was so good that when my trainer asked after our first course how I thought it was, I said I’d dropped my eye in one of my bending lines which dropped the back rail of the oxer, but was otherwise happy and she (not one to hand out compliments) said nevermind that (I wasn’t wrong hah), that she thought it had been great. That he’d been great and I’d come out and rode the horse with direction and instruction from the first stride. I just about fell over. I knew it’d felt good, but great?! I ended up riding the wonky line once more and the course once more in entirety and that was it – the entire lesson. It felt so good to come out and be able to lay down a course like that (might I add a harder course than one would normally find at starter) right off the bat. I just have to come out with my brain ready to say, “let’s go Arch,” and mean it. Weird the way that works, huh?
Which is how I’ve found myself knee-deep in spin and pilates again. Spin is so nice, because with the addition of my bike, I can take a 20 or 30 minute class during lunchtime without the logistical nightmares. Pilates is down the street and hard as fuck, but worth it (please tell this to 16 year old Holly who took pilates as a ‘fun, relaxing easy class’ WTF) for the core strength.
Progress takes time, but I’m excited – twice weekly lessons, the upcoming clinic with Sharon (including XC on Sunday pleasepleaseplease don’t rain please), plus cross training – I feel really good about finally accomplishing my goal to run at IEA in a month (3.5 weeks actually but who’s counting idk). Now to just deal with the smalllllll detail called ‘I forgot to get a hotel room and now they’re all sold out hahahahahaha maybe I can sleep in Archie’s stall with him’. Minor detail, right?