My Weekly Riding Lesson – Forward Trot
I love Thursdays. Because on Thursday’s, I have my weekly riding lesson. So I look forward to Thursday even more than Friday’s now. Friday’s are still fantastic, because of the weekend. But now Thursday is even better than Friday.
And I had a goal in mind this week when I got to my riding lesson. Not only to ride, but I am wanting to turn half of my feed barn into a tack room, instead of having two separate areas, it makes more sense to maximize the use of space in my barn, and use half for a feed room, and half for a tack room. And I really like how the barn that I ride at has the tack room set up. So one of my goals this week, was to take a few photos of their tack room, so I can kind of mimic it in my own barn. But that’s a post for another day. I was able to get a few photos though while I was gathering Ringo’s tack for our lesson.
Onto the Riding
After I got Ringo tacked up, and into the arena we worked on two-point at the walk. I don’t want to say this is easy now, but it is getting a lot easier, at the walk. I feel more comfortable with my leg, and I think I must be progressing in the eyes of my instructor, because she doesn’t have me stand in the saddle to find my balance anymore, progress!
I think that my balancing exercise I have been doing at home on my stairs is really helping me with my balance issues. Have you ever tried it? It’s really easy, and you only need a step, or set of stairs to practice.
Better Balance Exercise
Stand on the lowest stair (or step) with your heels hanging free, and put your heels down, just like you do when you are riding. Hold onto the railing, or wall to balance yourself, and then release your grip on the railing, or wall. See how long you can stand before you lose your balance. If you get wobbly, just reach out for the railing, or wall to steady yourself. And work on really sinking your heels down while you balance on the stair step.
Continue to practice this until you can stand in the stair step without losing your balance and keeping your heels down. Practice this every day. If you can do it several times a day, even better. I will typically do it while I am getting ready in the morning and before bed. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, this is also a great stretch to stretch out your Achilles and gastroc muscles in your lower leg. It’s a great stretch that you can really feel.
This simple exercise has really helped me with my balance, and in turn, with my riding.
Working On Forward Trot
Ok, back to the riding lesson. After Ringo and I were warmed up, it was time for the main focus of our lesson, getting a really forward trot. This is a little challenging for me because we really are working on moving faster. But with the lessons so far, I am getting very comfortable with how I am progressing, including going faster.
So my task was to begin on the rail of the arena in rising trot, and when I would get to the long sides of the arena, I had to ask for more from Ringo, really asking him to move forward and extend his trot. And then when I came to the shorter ends of the arena, it was time to slow down into a regular working trot. We did this over and over and I focused on pushing Ringo to move more forward while sitting tall in the saddle and applying pressure with my legs when I would come back to the saddle after rising. A few times I lost my diagonal, and my stirrup stability, so I think we will be working more on that next week.
And after last week when I so proudly learned how to find the diagonal, I had a much harder time with it during this lesson. I felt a little defeated, but at least I have something to work on, right?
Two-Point At The Trot
And we also continued to work on two-point, at the trot. This was a little challenging too. At first I was good, and then after a few rounds around the arena I started to lose my position. My instructor would encourage me to come back to rising trot if my position was waning. And after three rounds of the arena, my legs were like jello. But I could feel an improvement. And I knew what I needed to do, stretch down into my heels, and apply my ankle to Ringo’s side. By thinking about my position, I was able to do it, mostly.
Another Great Lesson
Even though I wasn’t perfect, I felt I did well during my lesson. I also have a few things to work on before next week. Unfortunately it is supposed to snow on Saturday and the high temperature isn’t supposed to be above 20 degrees so I will not be riding my own horses this weekend. But, maybe Monday night I could saddle up Ethan for a few minutes when I get home from work. I have the lights in my horse barn and feed barn that illuminate an area, so I could ride for at least a few minutes. I just have to do it.
I will be able to do my balance exercise though. Because I can do that inside, even if it’s snowing outside. Maybe I will work on some squats too, I think this is kind of the position I am in with two-point, so it’s worth a try, right?
Takeaways From This Weeks Lesson
Even with some flaws, I am very happy with how I am doing. And even though I didn’t get the correct diagonal a lot, I did push Ringo faster, and I felt comfortable doing it. So my confidence is definitely improving. And being able to stay in two-point for 2 solid revolutions around the arena was a good thing. My instructor told me what I am working on at home is helping, and she can see an improvement too.
But with the good, there was some bad too. And the areas I need to work on:
- Stronger legs, stronger two-point
- Getting the correct diagonal
- Keeping my horse going forward, and working into the bit
- Strong heels, and keeping my stirrup
- Picking up my stirrups without reaching down to grab them
I am really happy when I have things to work on, and this week I have a lot. I want to get better at these things, so I will be ready to learn something new at my next lesson.
I cannot tell you how much these lessons have benefited me. I am so happy that I finally decided to invest in myself, and my riding by getting professional help. My confidence level is improving, as well as my riding. It makes the prospect of taking Ethan to a show this summer a much more realistic goal. We will see how it goes, but I can tell you I will be continuing riding lessons so I can continue to improve my riding!