A good trainer is worth her weight in gold

What is it about new tack, breeches, boots, helmets, etc. that make you want to get up at dark-thirty and go ride? I finally ordered a replacement for my ancient Troxel (they don’t even make the model anymore) and can’t wait to test it out. Okay, wait, by test it out, I mean see how it feels during a long ride; did I just jinx myself?? I’ll post a review of the Ovation Deluxe Schooling Helmet after this morning, but so far it feels light and comfy and fits my oval-shaped head. It got solid reviews on SmartPak, so I’m pretty confident I’m going to love it.
Yesterday, Johnny and I had our first ‘lesson’ with my new German friend. Yes, you may be jealous. Any time you go to a new barn, there’s always that initial trial period–can she really ride? The first day I saddled up Johnny, I made a rookie mistake: I let go of the reins because my whip was out of reach. He took one step, realized my mistake, and he was off exploring his new surroundings. It took three of us to catch him, and thankfully all my tack survived. That was the initial impression I gave. Luckily, I was given a new opportunity to redeem myself when we played musical horses and Pip’s horse gave a playful buck. I have quite a few hours on bucking horses, so I instinctively sat down deeper, dropped my heels another inch, and sent him forward. I didn’t realize I was auditioning, but the next morning, Andrea told me she had an offer for me. She’d trade me riding lessons in exchange for me riding her up and coming project horse who happened to be quite the bronc. She’s at that age where riding bucking horses just doesn’t have an appeal, and I’m still fully articulate in all my joints…for now anyway.
Anyway, I digress. Point is, we had our first mini lesson, and for the first time I felt Johnny really, I mean really, lift his back up and carry me. He’s such a big, long-backed horse, it’s difficult to put him together and get the two ends connected, but with lots of transitions, he finally got it all together! For the record, we’d already been doing lots of transitions, but with her watching, she was able to help me with timing them in the best moments. And, where I thought I should soften my fingers in the downward transitions so that I didn’t pull on his mouth and cause a skyward nose, she told me I was being too nice and allowing him to do so. After a few times of really closing my fingers as he resisted, he got the picture and began submitting instead. All of that in about a 15 minute lesson. It’s no wonder ze Germans beat the pants off us in dressage. I’ve been taking lessons with Johnny since I’ve had him, and that’s the most improvement he’s made in one lesson. In 15 minutes no less!
Keep checking back on Johnny’s progress…with her help, my goal is to move us up to Training (eventing) by mid-season. And, who knows? We might even go to a dressage-only show just for kicks!

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