Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday's lesson(s), cats

So I think I've figured out what is so endearing / annoying about cats. That "cat attitude." Cats refuse to believe that any other creature in the world is self-directed.

This theory explains why cats KEEP DOING that annoying thing, over and over again. How could there be consequences when nothing else exists but the cat? There's food on the table, so the cat jumps up to eat the food. Something strange happens and the cat's on the floor. What has happened? Who knows, there's food on the table so the cat jumps up. Repeat, over and over, til something really strange happens and the cat is in another room and the door is inexplicably shut.

My cats just got locked in the bedroom while I fixed dinner. That's why they're on my mind. :)

Ok, dressage.

Did I ever tell yall about last week? Shit, I think I forgot. Ok last week I rode Valentine (fat paint pony/horse) in the round pen. It wasn't a true longe lesson, but pretty similar, and it actually addressed what I need to address.

I'd ridden Val once before, and man alive she is tough for me. She knows how to respond to the correct cues, but she is lazy and marish and will not respond to partial cues. Clipper is a sweet old fellow who wants to work, so if he thinks he knows what I want he'll do it. Canter (argh), or bend in a circle, or trot - he tries. That's really nice, because it shows me how the movement is supposed to feel, but it's kinda bad, because I don't have to get it all right. Valentine, on the other hand, will do what you tell her if you ask exactly right.

The first time I rode her (and I didn't post about it? Not sure why not, but I can't find it in my archives) I couldn't even get her to trot. I could not bring my trot aides together enough for her to go "ok, yeah, you are serious about me trotting, I'll do it." I couldn't ride her straight, I couldn't ride her in a circle, I couldn't do anything!! It was very humbling. :o

So last week I rode her in the round pen, with Hardy in the center helping me out / teaching. I did a little leg work, but mainly I tried to get my hands back. WTF my hands! Where did they go? Where did that sense of light contact I thought I had disappear to? Last week we wobbled around in misshapen ovals, til I finally picked up more contact than I thought I needed, remembered the whole inside rein outside rein thing, and got some bend.

This week we were back in the round pen. For my homework, I'd ridden Champ twice and gotten some good practice with my legs at the trot. By "homework" I don't mean actual "you go do this" homework, but more like "I think it would help me improve if I worked on this on my own time." And by "practice" I mean.. teaching muscle memory. I am actually amazingly clumsy and uncoordinated and in general not naturally gifted at physical things. If I can figure out in my head what I'm supposed to do, and then I go practice doing it and think about what I'm doing, I can learn.

Anyway, I was feeling good about my leg position / posting. And my legs were GREAT today! However, I had to fight through that "inside hand does what? how hard? and outside hand does something else? and LEGS TOO YOU'RE KILLING ME" thing again.

It's always something new just when I think I'm getting the hang of this. This Sunday: Elbows. They're not just a pasta shape. They have to move. Hardy had me put my little fingers on the saddle to try to get the feel of moving my elbows, but it was ... almost impossible. With my hands that low and that close to my body, I "felt" constricted in my shoulders and off balance more than I felt my elbows move. I promised to work on elbows this week.

It was one of the weirdest un-feelings in this dressage adventure so far. You know how when your guy friends are like "man it's so hot my balls are sweaty!" and you're just "... yeah that must suck!" I mean, I do have elbows and I know how to move them, but I had never before thought about them while I was riding.

Now that it's Tuesday, I'll go ahead and publish this and finish talking about elbows next post!

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