We finally got to ride today. About a 20-meter circle was cleared enough of snow in the downstairs ring to trot. It was sloppy but not slippery. Maryann and I had a lesson. Basically all we did was trot circles in each direction but Barbara was there to fix our positions, tweak how the horses went, and provide encouragement.
Regarding position issues, I had three things I had to fix. The first was my tendency to collapse on the right side while going left. I concentrated on keeping my hips to the right, which helped but did not completely solve the problem. However, when Barbara said to put more weight in my right stirrup – voila, I was straight. The second issue was that I raised my heels when I posted so that I hit PJ with my (tiny) spur with each stride. I had worked on this last year and had figured out a way to keep my legs on and heels down but it was done with tension. Today I tried to figure out a way to do it softly, which obviously didn’t work. When I figure it out, I’ll let you all know. The third thing was turning my body inward going to the right. I have a tendency to keep my shoulders looking out in that direction. It doesn’t feel like I am doing it – I feel straight – but I watched a video of myself and it was quite evident. It was difficult to remember all of these instruction all at once, especially when PJ wanted to do his own thing.
On the plus side, I had no problems turning left like I had last year. I wasn’t nervous when PJ did his head shaking thing a lot. I also handled him spooking at a barrel that had blown into the trees during the last big storm.
After the hour ride, PJ was exhausted. Even with frequent breaks and no cantering, it was a lot for him after so much time off. I have a suspicion that Friesians loose fitness faster than other breeds because Ransom was fine. This is my first Friesian but I read that they are different than typical warmbloods. I don’t know about his Saddlebred side of things. Regardless, I’ll just have to take what he gives me and build on it. Hopefully we’ll be ready for show season.