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Fun With Canter Poles

Today’s riding lesson was one of my favourites yet (in fairness, pretty much every lesson is my new “favourite so far”). I was assigned to Dakota, a beautiful grey horse who’s sweet as can be, but has the most uncomfortable saddle I’ve ever endured. Sitting down hurts for 3 days after riding him.

I put down my brushes outside his stall and entered empty handed to say hello. Our instructor says that school horses can sometimes feel like motorcycles – we come in, ride them for an hour, then park them back in their stall and walk off – so it’s important to spend some time talking to them and petting them without tying them up or asking anything of them. Dakota had a heap of hay that demanded all his attention, so he wasn’t much interested in my attempt to make him feel important. Still, I enjoyed it.

After grooming and tacking up, I went down to the ring. The lesson started with a posting trot over some trot poles. I had trouble finding my rhythm. I don’t ride Dakota very often, and his trot is much more bouncy than Popeye’s (Popeye is the horse I’ve ridden for the last couple months). On Popeye, I really have to use my legs to get myself out of the saddle. After a few laps on Dakota, I found that I just needed to sink my weight into my heels and let him fall away from me then rise back up. Right or wrong, it helped me get a better rhythm and avoid slamming down on his back. Posting is hard, and I think it’ll be a while yet before I fully “get it”. I’m getting better at picking the right diagonal though. I still get it wrong sometimes and have to sit a beat to correct, but at least I can usually tell when I’m on the wrong diagonal!

Next the instructor set up the poles in a canter line. We lined up on one side of the ring, trotted one length, then went up in our two-point and cantered down the centre line over the poles. It was great fun! I’ve never cantered in two-point before. Dakota’s canter is bouncy too, so it was actually easier at the two-point than trying to sit the saddle. Our instructor pointed out that I was leaning forward and slumping my shoulders. The next time around I pulled my shoulders back. Wow! It felt completely different, I was finally able to find my balance. For the rest of the lesson I focused on keeping my shoulders back and sinking into my heals with each step.

The canter is such a beautiful gait. The gentle rising and falling, the familiar pat-pat-pat 3 beat rhythm, the sheer power of it; it’s all so quintessentially horse-like. Even though it’s only a few paces in a small arena, in my mind it’s just me and my horse, cantering over vast rolling fields of green grass and sunshine. For those few moments, there’s nothing more perfect in the entire world.

We finished by walking our horses out while the next lesson group mounted up. They worked hard today, so we let them walk for a full twenty minutes before taking them back to their stalls for grooming. I gave Dakota a carrot to say thank you for letting a noob like me flop around on his back for an hour.

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Introduction

I’ve decided that for now, at least, this site will be a personal blog. And since the most interesting thing in my unemployed, recently-graduated-from-a-dead-end-university-degree life is horseback riding and horses in general, that will be what this blog is mostly about. I figure an introduction to my riding background is in order.

I use the word “background” loosely, because I only started riding in August of 2011. Unlike many people who seem to have started riding before they learned how to walk, I only recently realized that horseback riding was accessible even to those of us without a six figure income. I found a barn right in the city that offered reasonable rates, and was surprisingly serviced by major bus routes. I signed up for a summer camp with my mom, two sisters, and brother. The camp ran for five days, three hours per day, and served as an introduction to horse care and riding. We learned how to brush a horse and pick their hooves, how to tack up, clean our tack, and of course, some simple riding. I was immediately addicted.┬áIn September I signed up for weekly riding lessons, along with my mom and sisters.

As of this post I’ve been riding once per week for 5 months. We’ve been introduced to the walk, trot (posting and sitting), and canter, and are working on getting better at all of them. I love every second of it. I’m also pursuing a career in horse care, so I can be around horses while I earn money to pay to ride horses!

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Trying this again

So I’m trying out setting up this wordpress site again. For now at least it’s no longer going to be a portfolio page, and rather just a random blog on which I can post my musings. It’ll probably be a while before I finish the design… if I ever do this time. Ignorance is bliss in some situations, and the more I learned about design in university, the more I became crippled by indecision.

Anyway! Until I get the proper credits and such up, the site’s background image is from here, credit contemplicity.

Friday, January 20th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments