Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 21: Maintain Your Posture

I didn’t need DT to remind me of this little nugget of wisdom, the Ponies did that for me.

Now, for those who don’t know, there are two basic rules for riding the ponies:

One: Don’t lean forward. Ever. A whoastorm will ruin whatever good work you had going up until that point and the pony will then be primed for more whoastorms in response to poor riding.

Two: Don’t clamp your legs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spook/spin/buck/fart maneuver. Clamping your legs will make the spook-spin-buck-fart  ten times worse, because then the ponies will follow it up with more athletic bucking. And if there is one thing I don’t want to encourage in my ponies, it’s athletic bucking.

But Alison”, you say, “Surely by now you’ve mastered the art of draping your legs to keep your seat.”

Surely, indeed.

As it turns out,  I still need a reminder or two to keep my legs where they need to be. Now, I’ve gotten much better with Delight. We’re turning into quite the dressage duo. Today we got leg yields in and out to both directions and seem to have mastered the extreme one sidedness that plagues us after the Christmas break.  I can remind myself to keep my legs back and I’m working on my toes issue (it’s just so hard!) while on Deli… Tilly is still another story.
On Tilly, I tend to revert back to my defensive young-horse leg, with the toes turned out and the whole back of my calf in contact with her little pony sides. It’s not pretty, but it’s super secure- not that I really need security, since Tilly is usually quite well behaved. Usually.

Today, however, was a different story. I was trying to fix my legs, and encourage her to yield into the corners instead of dropping her shoulder and cutting to the inside. I was actually being pretty successful, working in big looping figure eights at the trot, encouraging Tilly to give to the inside, when it happened. 

Back story: We’ve had 18” of snow in the last ten days. It’s been under 20 degrees that while time. Today it’s supposed to get to the mid-to-upper 30s.

What was It? It was a good 10” of snow sliding down the roof of the arena. For those of you who haven’t heard the sound of snow falling off a roof, it sounds a bit like an avalanche. Rumbling and scraping for 40 feet of rooftop, gaining momentum as it goes.  Of course, I didn’t hear it start because I was jamming out to Lady Gaga on my MP3 player (hey, don'judge. It could have been Abba, or Bon Jovi had this episode happened later). I noticed something was up when Tilly coiled like a spring and leapt to the middle of the arena like a deer on crack. Of course, my first (and wrong) instinct was to grip with my legs to keep from hitting her mouth and being left behind like a rag doll. Tilly responded to this last assault on her pony-ness by leaping straight up in the air and expressing her displeasure with a very loud:

“SQUEEE!” (there really is no written equivalent for the angry pony sound she made)

Of course, once you assault the pony dignity, the resentment is there for the rest of the ride. Close the legs to ask for a canter? “FU”, says the pony. Ask for a step sideways with the inside leg? Pony answers with a resounding “NO!”

By the end of the ride, I got some grudging canter work, and some very nice turns on the forehand, so all in all I’d call it a good day.  Delight still wins the Good Pony Award for the day though. 

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