Another lesson today. I rode yesterday, just hacking about, on a little gray Arab mare with only one eye. She had her right eye removed because it had a tumor, and she is oddly lumpy around the ears and jaw as well. I did not carry a whip, and spent a lot of the ride booting her to get her off my leg, but we had some very nice leg yields and should-in. My sitting trot was vile, and our canter departs were catastrophic. Her eye issues make it more worrying going to the right than to the left. We finished on a much softer trot than we started, so on the whole we did well.
I was slated for another horse today for my lessons, but she had the goofies and couldn't be caught, even by the teacher. So I rode the one eyed mare again. With supervision, and a whip, we did much better. Mara (teacher) speaks of particular movements or sequences as unlocking the horse. Before unlocking they are harsh, and after they become much softer. Last week a particular shoulder-in unlocked the horse, and we spent the rest of the lesson doing much nicer work. The same kind of lateral work helped unlock this horse. The leg yields went from stiff necked, nose out and wiggly shoulder to much more forward and rounded, more wrapped around my inside leg. She is much softer to the hand than last week's pony, and easier to get forward. When it is going well, it feels like I am driving a wheelbarrow, almost pushing on her mouth rather than pulling or holding. We worked on some canter transitions, and really just holding the whip made a huge difference, plus holding with my shoulder blades to keep her from running through my hands.
The title references my own dreams of horse ownership as a child, where I always pictured myself mounted on a gray Arab mare. Of course, I never came close to that - strictly grade horses all the way, backyard keeping, 4H and Pony Club on a budget - I'm sure you'd recognize the drill. I loved them all. But I mentioned to Mara this dream, and she rolled her eyes and said "That was all I had - I'd have loved a different horse..."
So here I am riding gray arab mares. They are up-headed and wiggly in the shoulders, but have some lovely moments. I am hugely amused.
I also had yoga in the morning, where the teacher asked us to remember the last time we were joyfully embodied. My mind leapt to my lesson two weeks ago, on the bay grade mare with a real extended trot, in the sun, in the outside... and before that to two years ago on a little chestnut Morgan doing an extended trot outside in the spring sun... good things to remember. Nice also to remember being competent riding.
Made up for by circus today. I started tired, and everything hurt. But I finally nailed the upside down wrap-the-fabric-behind-your-back move, having practiced it resting gently on my head. And two one-minute handstands against the wall. Free standing head stands. And the beginning of a new trick. Of course, the new trick hurts, because everything hurts, but eventually it will not be so distressing.