Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lesson with Gayle #6

Yesterday afternoon and evening we got hammered by a big storm.  There was high wind, rain and a lot of hail (but not as much as Michaele got).  Before we went to bed, I called Gayle and put our morning lesson on "maybe" status depending on the weather and state of the property in the morning.  I woke up in the middle of the night and the wind was still flinging hail against the windows.  I was pretty sure we wouldn't have a lesson.  But, I was wrong.  Brett was up before sunrise to get the horses breakfast and when he came back up at 6:30 he said the sun was breaking through.  We loaded the horses and went.

Winston was in a pissy mood.  He turned away from me when I got him out of his stall, he tried to turn and come out of the trailer, and he scooted all over the place when I tried to get him to stand at the mounting block.  Since he was dying to go, Gayle had me pick up the trot right away.  Afterward my lesson, I scribbled some notes to help me remember everything. 

1.  Keep my toes pointing in.  No more of this toes pointing out to the side business.  I need to roll my thigh on, even if that means grabbing it in my hand and putting it where it needs to be.  The difference is immediate in how secure and effective I feel.  Toward the end of the lesson, when we were working on canter, I started to get a cramp in my outside calf.  Then I realized my toe was pointing out so I was pushing Winston over/steering with the back of my calf instead of the inside.  As soon as I corrected, the cramp went away and Winston steered like a dream.  Courtney King Dye said this was a struggle for her (women's anatomy is not helpful at all) and if she had to work at, then I can too. 

2.  At canter, keep my right elbow poking into my hip and my toes pointing forward.  When my right side is my outside, I am a dorky mess.  If I point my toes forward, my elbow swings out.  I have to control BOTH of them.  Thankfully, my weak side is the opposite of Winston's. 

3.  When I ask for more, he has to give it immediately.  It doesn't have to be huge, but it has to be enough that I feel a definite difference.

4.  I need to kiss the seat of my saddle with my seat when I post.  I'm landing too heavy. 

5.  Keep the outside rein firm at all times.  I can soften when he carries himself but I can never, ever, give it away.  He needs to accept the contact and work through his body into that contact, back to front.  I especially need to keep the contact firm and steady in my upward transitions.  Don't worry about the inside rein or bend at this point; working in the contact comes first.

It was a long, hard lesson.  Good, of course, but hard.  While Brett and Flash had their lesson, I sat in a chair and Winston grazed next to me.  He took a couple big mouthfuls of grass and dumped them on my head.  I imagine there is a mesage there. 

Back home, the clouds had come back and it was cold and windy.  We turned the horses out in the pasture.  Jackson was bucking up a storm in his stall turnout so I let him out too.  His turnout is mucky wet so it couldn't be any worse to have him out on the firm wet dirt instead of sinking in mud.  He is determined, as Lori noted, and he wanted to be out.   

Flash and Winston discuss who gets that particular bin of hay.  Winston lost.

Jackson joined the group and I put Winston's blanket back on.  He walked right up to me and stuck his head through.

Remember when Bella cut her back leg?  She lost a lot of weight then.  She has gained it all back -- and then some.

Bella thinks she is Vanna White, showing off the aloe flower to me.  Kyle says we should call her Bellatrix.

First artichoke of the season! 

One of the families living in the eaves outside the great room windows.

I finished creating my blog book yesterday.  2011: January to June.  248 pages.  Hardcover.  8 1/2 x 11.  Upgrade to premium photo paper.  $70. 


  1. A good instructor can make all the difference...smooth sailin'. Good boy Winston.

    Michaele sure did get some crazy weather! Yours was not too great either.

    I went to that site to learn more about making a book. Don't have the energy right now. I'd pay $70 for 248 pages. I would really have to be selective, as I have made nearly 3500 posts. It had to take you a long time to go through all yours. Kudos to you.

  2. Sounds like a really good lesson, the kind that gives you stuff to work on.
    I'm so glad Jackson continues to feel good.

  3. I swear I never knew there was so much to riding. You are so good at writing and I appreciate hearing about it all. I am enamored by that artichoke. I wonder if they would grow here. Glad you got to have the lesson today. That Brett is a go-getter.

  4. That's a great idea to think of it as 'rolling your thigh' rather than 'toes forward'. I'm going to give that a try and see if it helps any. Curse you, toes!
    Those artichoke plants look lovely. Yum!

  5. A lesson that makes you work and think is always a great lesson. I am glad that the weather calmed down for you.

    I have struggled with the toes-out issue for all my life. When I was little it was really noticeable. My feet looked like airplane wings. ;)

    I have found that the problem is much better now that I ride a horse who does not need a lot of leg. I have like zero strength in my leg unless I turn my toe out, which is why riding in the deep footing at the shows this year was so frustrating. My horse lost his go and I had to compromise my position or risk a break in stride.

    I do feel much more secure when my thighs are flat against the saddle, but then I also have to be careful not to pinch with my knee.

    Goodness, there are so many things to think about!

  6. Winston is learning and you are learning. Isn't it fun? Bella is too cute for words and I'd be interested to know more about how you did your blog book (and through who)?


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.