First, let me apologize for the lack of posts. My lessons with PJ have been going great, so I really didn’t think I had much insight to impart to you, my readers. But I think explaining the good may be just as important as discussing how to fix what’s going wrong.
Number 1, my horse is great. No matter the weather, other horses being jerks in the ring, or whatever, I trust my horse to keep me safe. That’s a great confidence boost that allows me to push myself and do things I might not otherwise do if I didn’t feel okay that things would work out. He’s a little up due to a sudden cold snap? No problem, I’ll tap him with my whip to get him to go forward! I don’t understand people who will sacrifice that happy feeling for a better moving horse. But to each their own.
Second, sometimes artificial tools are useful. Bridget has been riding PJ in draw reins. Due to strength issues in the beginning, PJ had a lot of trouble just going correctly. The draw reins actually give him something to lean/rely on and not the other way around. He’s figured out how to canter better. Right now the change is more dramatic to the right but even Bridget remarked that he feels so much different underneath her – he’s using his back correctly and not using his neck instead. I do not have the skills to use draw reins but in the hands of Bridget, who has the feeling and timing, they are helping PJ and not hurting him (and I’ve seen it that he’s not unhappy in his work, nor is he being forced in a frame).
Third, I’ve definitely gotten better as a rider. My sitting trot is vastly improved, although it still has a long way to go to be effective – I can now not bounce around. I really got the correct contact today. My canter seat is improving too. It’s hard to see it on a day to day basis, and I’m my biggest critic, but I can recognize improvement in myself. Now, I just have to rejoice in it instead of only seeing how far I have yet to go.
Lastly, improvement takes time – for both me and my horse. PJ needs to get physically strong in addition to learn to work correctly. Building muscle is not an overnight thing. I also need to get strong and learn how to ride correctly. For both me and PJ it’s NOT just a mental thing – that’s hard for me to accept being so cerebral (I’m a scientist after all). Both humans and horses learn things as we are ready. Rushing or skipping steps may seem like the way to go, but in the end, it only leads to failure.
I hope you all are having fun in your riding, recognizing your successes, and enjoying the journey.