Having gotten to a point where I can ride Bar without hyperventilating, it's time for us to do a little more. He needs it, I need it and the right kind of training will make both of us stronger and more supple--meaning we will be in good shape to ride together for many, many adventures which is my real goal.
First, I needed to see what all we are doing so I have a better idea what to work on next. I have lots of tools to try, but have gotten so caught up in thinking I don't know what I'm doing and/or am not riding well, we aren't really progressing--either of us.
My friend Katie Dougherty-Kunde graciously came over to my barn to shoot some video of the big brown horse and me and--miraculously--she didn't fall over in hysterical laughter. Just kidding! She actually even voiced some reminders of the things Bar and I worked on with Ellen in our last two clinics. Being able to watch and see exactly what is happening underneath me and relate that back to what I know I asked and how I asked it turns out to be a hugely valuable tool. The video also showed that while not perfect--not by a very, very long shot--I'm also not as spastic as I thought I was. That was just enough of a confidence boost to help me realize I can keep going and get both of us riding better--and doing it together.
Watching the videos, it is obvious my horse is a hair on the lazy side. An ex-racehorse? Lazy? Yes, yes he is. I will be adding some motivational tools as we work on getting him to carry me versus me being a constant nag. Nagging is actually completely out of character for me. In fact, an ex-husband once told me I didn't nag him enough. Since we were divorcing at the time, it was a moot point, but the fact remains that I do not like nagging. I don't do it to Steve and I try very, very hard not to do it to my daughter Katie.
Apparently, I save it all for Bar and that's only under specific circumstances. I simply don't ask him to work very hard and that is primarily because I'm afraid of what might happen if I ask for more. Oh, the epiphanies abound after watching the videos.
Katie, understanding my fear, had a great point about asking a horse to move forward--even when you're afraid of what they might do. "If they are moving forward, they have a place to go with that energy." Steve has also reminded me on more than one occasion that I actually ride better than I think I do and have actually managed to stay on Calabar fairly well of late--even in some tricky situations.
Once Calabar and I had done some work--including our version of the trot and some direction changes--he did loosen up and give me a more forward and engaged walk. I think he actually likes the work--even if he is lazy and even if I'm still nervous--so there will be more asking and more doing.
I think we are both actually ready this time and--really--I hate to nag so it's time to push this to the next level for both of us.