So I've had this trainer coming out to my house to give me lessons. While I'm getting along fine on my own, I always want to learn more and do better. It has been a while since I've had regular lessons, and I appreciate that he will come to my house because trailering out two horses takes a lot of time and is a hassle. Since he's got the time, he comes out on Saturday mornings and we spend most of the morning together. It takes away one weekend day of possibly sleeping in, but it is worth it and I am learning so much.
A lot of what we are learning and working on is back to the basics, but a different sort of basics than I grew up with riding hunters, and most definitely a lot different than what I was doing most recently, which was dressage. Trainer is happy to tell me what I'm doing wrong and show me how to do it better. And I'm happy to be told what I'm doing wrong and how to do it better. Various things I do wrong are: I'm too busy with my legs and/or I use my heels too much (instead of my lower leg), I cross my inside rein over the neck (typical english rider thing, he says), my reins are too short (hallelujah! I much prefer to ride with longer, looser reins, but was always told when riding dressage to shorten them), and other little things.
I've been working on this stuff with Mac and started out with a couple ground work sessions with Pony, but decided to ride with Pony in a lesson this week since she shaped up to the ground work really nicely. Since Trainer is a saddle maker, I asked him for his opinion on how my western saddle fit Pony, since the first time I put it on her she didn't seem to like it. He actually thought it was a good fit for her so we put it on and I had a lesson in it. The thing she didn't like, which she didn't like again, was the cinch. The big buckle seemed to be bothering her. Since the saddle otherwise fit, though, I went and got her a fleece cinch whereby the fleece cushions the buckle from pressure.
And here she is, looking cuter than anything.
In our lesson we worked on circles, bending, lateral work, backing, and transitions on a loose rein - all of this is baby stuff, though - just a step here, or a movement there. At first I thought my reins were loose enough, but he had me ride on the buckle (or where a buckle would be if I had english reins) during transitions, and he commented that Pony was much happier with that. I didn't think I'd be able to ride her like that since she's got so much go and is so bendy and wiggly, but she was amazingly good! She kept her line, went softly into the trot, and then came back down nicely.
It is really fun and exciting to be working with someone like this on a regular basis. Pony is so smart that she makes progress very quickly and retains it very well!