It’s a Game of Chutes and Ladders

003Today I finally had last week’s lesson, and for me, better late than never.  Ike and I require regular adult supervision to keep us on track and our reins at the correct length.  So glad that Ms. C does not migrate south for the winter – she might not be happy about it, but I know that I am so very thankful that Ike and I can keep up our lessons through the winter rather than scratching our heads wondering if we are making forward progress.  Our second show season kicks off in three months, so we really don’t have any time to waste.

After today’s lesson, I can assure you that our upward progress is stifled by my inadequacies as a rider – we have to claw our way up that ladder rung by rung.  Yes, it is true, poor Ike must tolerate my digressions in his quest for fame and fortune.  How will the boy ever make it to the Wellington Dressage Master’s competition when his owner is so easily distracted by a runny nose and cold fingers?  Ms. C and I discussed some of the rides while we did my lesson; she used them as a guide for my wayward skill set.  While they are a library of how to ride correctly, I could be the poor soul who they trot out to demonstrate what not to do.  One of these days I’m making it over that wall to the other side where the proficient riders live.

One of the discussions today was about rein length.  I marvel at riders who manage to keep a steady connection even while holding two sets of reins.  I feel like I am always adjusting the length and my contact is on again, off again.  My fear is that Ike will learn to tune out my fidgeting and we will be damned to Training Level purgatory.  Ms. C assures me that I am improving and that now that Ike is steadier and stronger, I won’t have to constantly grope for the right length which sends us down the chute and back to Intro Level.  Our sit trot work today proved that I can find the right length of rein when I set my mind to it.  Start on a trot circle to the left, establish the correct bend and flexion, and once things are stable, half halt, step to the right, and re-establish the new bend and flexion for a circle to the right.  Up the ladder we went…

We were half way up the ladder today when we took an unexpected detour down the Runaway Horse Chute.  Ms. C said she could almost see Ike planning to slide down that particular chute.  I bumped Ike with my legs to ask for just a bit more trot.  Ike took that opportunity to leap into the canter and before I could say “wh—-” we were off to the races.  Abandoning any finesse, I used the full body brace to gain control.  Phew!  That will get the blood flowing.  Of course we were at the bottom of the chute and back at Start.  Time to start over.

We abandoned all thoughts of canter and continued to work on our trot work as well as the suggestion of shoulder in.  Please Ike, could we just make it up one ladder successfully?  I will then take you back to the barn for the rest of your dinner.  That must have been good incentive because we ended our lesson on a positive note with the successful climb up the walk/trot ladder.  Ike’s walk was dynamite – the boy really should be able to pull at least an 8 on that walk.  Our transitions were peaceful in the up direction as well as in the down.  Ike even listened as we attempted shoulder in to the right and left.  His rider almost led them down the Overbending Chute, but Ms. C was there to save the day and prevent one final descent.

So many ladders to climb before show season kicks into high gear.  I am going to try my best to avoid any chutes that will send us back to Intro tests at schooling shows.  Ike says he is promising nothing.  He kind of liked that wild ride and isn’t certain why I don’t encourage more of that behavior.  I think he has been talking to his brother too much.

We head out this weekend for our first clinic of 2013!


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