I started this series first discussing how you can act as your own trainer through taking photos of yourself and then analyzing them. After viewing the first set of pictures I took, I hit a major road block with Hot Rod. He absolutely refused to pick up the right lead for me. We have gone through this before and it generally is an indication from him that his front right foot is sore. After a trip to the vet and a large vet bill, that has all been settled. Once he was feeling comfy again, the right lead was inevitable, but I couldn’t seem to find the correct cue to really tell him to do it and convince him it wasn’t going to hurt. I think he just wasn’t confident at picking up that particular lead at first. It simply is both our weaker side and if he thinks he can get out of it he will try. Enter Trainer Catie. When you are at your breaking point and you’ve exhausted all your other options, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. I was so frustrated with this horse! I needed some support as well as correction. Catie has really helped me and Hot Rod in the past few weeks, and I’m happy to say we can now pick up the right lead! Not every single time, mind you, but it’s a work in progress:)
Last night I had Catie take some pictures of me during our lesson to reevaluate how I have improved in the last few weeks, and unfortunately some ways I still need improvement. I’m the kind of person who wants results really fast. Who doesn’t? I’m more than willing to put in the hours to get results, but sometimes despite your best efforts things just take time. Obviously, Hot Rod and I need to develop muscle habits that neither one of us have seriously asked of ourselves. After viewing the pictures I’ve come away feeling encouraged by some, but discouraged by others. These pictures have little to do with what our lessons have actually been focused on– picking up the right lead. I’m analyzing these pictures solely on my riding position. Let’s get started.
This one isn’t too bad. I still need to tighten my abdominal muscles and sit up straighter in the saddle. Next time I’m going to make a conscious effort to look forward and not down at what I’m doing. I believe this would really help lengthen my body. Additionally, the tightening of my tummy and thighs would help him round his belly up underneath me more. At this point in time I was asking Hot Rod to give his face to me and he does respond nicely to that, but the ultimate goal is for him to frame up on his own without my constant support.
This is our left lead lope. I think it’s way better than my first picture in this series! So I have improved in some ways! Again, though, I really need to try looking out and ahead of me. Isn’t that Basic Horsemanship 101? Yeesh. I also need to begin working on Hot Rod’s collection and head frame at the lope instead of just letting him do whatever he wants. His frame isn’t terrible, but just needs improvement.
This is our right lead lope. Again, way better than before. Also, we’re actually ON THE RIGHT LEAD. I realize this sounds elementary, but every horse has their quirks. Catie commented that while loping we both looked “flat.” I can totally understand why she said this after looking a the pictures. Hot Rod literally looks flat. And Asleep, now that I look closely. (No wonder I’m always sore after a ride! My horse sleeps through the lesson!) Also, my body isn’t actively riding with all the muscles it can ride with. I look like a passenger, not a rider. I need to TIGHTEN. TIGHTEN, TIGHTEN, TIGHTEN. Maybe that’s way Catie kept yelling at me saying that my tummy looked squishy…
This is just a cute one:) Partner hung out in the arena with us during the lesson. He truly is my little partner. Some of the best dogs are the ones you find along side the road! That’s another story for another time.
All in all I feel like we are improving as a team, but as I said before things just take time. When you hit a road block like I did, it really helps to call someone who truly knows what they’re doing. I might still be trying, trying, trying for that right lead and just getting the both of us frustrated if Catie hadn’t stepped in. The photos are also still a big help. I’m a visual learner, so they just solidify the things Catie says during our lessons. If you’re going to pay for lessons, your money is most well spent if you take the lesson seriously, practice in between lessons, and study the homework the trainer gives you. So if you need me I’ll be in the arena:)