Today’s lesson was an exercise in highs and lows. Heads up: if you have emetophobia, you may want to skip this lesson report!
As y’all probably know by now, Kelsey and I live in the very hot and very humid state of Georgia. Seriously – I have never lived anywhere like this. Texas may have hotter numerical temperatures, but the humidity here will literally kill you. Because of this I have a general rule about summertime riding: I never get on a horse for a lesson or hard work between the hours of about 10 AM and 6 PM. The earlier or later the better! I am not a morning person at all, but you can bet your ass I am up at the barn and on my horse at 7 AM this time of year! (I am more flexible if I’m just hacking, or if it’s recently rained.) I’ve been lessoning around 9 recently due to schedule limitations, but today my lesson was pushed back to 9:30.
That thirty minutes makes more of a difference than you can possibly imagine.
Today F and I started off with some really lovely flatwork. We worked on things like keeping him on the bit (every time I get on I have to think about this just a little bit less!) and collections and lengthenings. F is so much fun to ride with these kinds of things, and as we know, riding that slow, collected canter is something I constantly need to work on! It also gives me room to nitpick my equitation with things like a less bouncy sitting trot and proper arm and hand position.
At the end of our flatting, though, I was starting to feel… well, not so great. A little bit out of nowhere. My breeches were suddenly feeling tight and I was feeling a little bit dizzy. I drank more of my water and walked around in the shade, but it wasn’t helping. I tend to overheat easily but cool down quickly, so it was a little weird. “Are you feeling all right?” T asked. “Not really,” I said. A pause. “Actually, I might need to get off.”
And then I promptly leaned over F’s shoulder and was sick.
I FELT SO BAD. Poor F was so confused – “what is happening human!?” Needless to say I immediately hopped off and sat down on a jump. T grabbed my water for me and I drank a good bit while F stood with me and nuzzled my hands. (Speaking of: thank God for machine washable schooling gloves!)
Y’all, this horse was SUCH a good sport for me today. He has such a good brain and incredible personality. I recovered pretty quickly (amazing how much better throwing up will make you feel!) and he hopped right back in to jumping with me, even though he had clearly thought he was done. And, miraculously, after that one mishap we went on to have one of the best lessons I’ve ever had on him! With the exception of our traditional “holy shit this horse will jump from anywhere” moment which ending with me on his neck (I’m getting really really good at pushing myself back up into the saddle!) we had really great jumps and I was able to work on distances and pace.
One of the things that T talked about with me after is the importance of maintaining that medium canter all the way to the base of the jump. F knows his job. He is jumping that fence no matter what! My job is to hold steady instead of letting go in that last stride and letting him think he can do what he wants. I need to be more clear and concise with my aids. We also talking about effective turns. I am traditionally one who goes for the handier turn, but that doesn’t work quite as well with F. He bulges way out in turns to the point where he’s completely overbent – he’s almost too easy to turn. I have to ride my turns on him differently that I would on another horse, and there’s a lot of focus on counterbending and other fancy-sounding things.
All in all though I was really happy! Afterward I gave F a good hose down and took him for a nice long graze to say thank you.
The morals of this week’s lesson?
1) Probably eat something other than Ramen and coffee before riding in the heat.
2) If you get the bad stuff out of the way first, you’re sure to ace the rest of the lesson! 😉