I talked about how I felt that I still need more confidence over fences in the last entry. I'm feeling a little better after two successful jumping days. Jumping Stella is a pretty big deal, but jumping a horse that I didn't even want to ride on the flat--Archie--is even bigger. Yes, my heart dropped when I checked the list at the barn and saw that I had to ride Archie in today's lesson. I'm so glad I got the opportunity, though, because I learned a whole lot today.
I gave Archie "the talk" when I got into his stall. I explained to him that I was loaded with painkillers (Generally, if I pop a pill before I ride, some horse somewhere is going to get "the talk."), that he should behave himself, and that I'll try very hard to understand him. I guess he listened to me :)
I focused on keeping my hands soft and keeping my entire body relaxed as we walked around the ring before the lesson started. I've been told that my hands are amazingly soft, almost to a fault, but I know I have a habit of locking my elbows and clenching my fists when things get crazy. That scares Archie...as it should. We moved into a relaxed trot, and then I think I had a small epiphany. I don't think I post straight. I think I always bring one hip forward just a little bit more. It could be because my hip is messed up, but it's likely just one of the many flaws in my equitation. I know that I often sit slightly "off" when my hip isn't just right, so it's likely.
There were a few times when Archie would speed up, but I didn't allow myself to stiffen. I tried to use my seat as much as possible, and then I turned to very slight half-halts in order to help him slow down. It worked quite well. He still does that nose-tilt thing, which is really odd. I've NEVER seen another horse do that like he does, and I have no idea why he did it a few times today.
Trotting went well, but I was a little worried that the canter would be out of control and absolutely dangerous like it was last time I rode Archie. He did get a little uppity when he saw the other horses springing into the canter (You can tell I'm one of Larry's students; I always take my time moving into the canter to plan my departure and set the horse up correctly.), but he was fine once we were going. He rushed the departure a little, but I was able to get him to relax and we had a very, very nice time. He has a lovely little canter once he relaxes. I kept my full seat and made sure my hands were wonderfully soft for such a wonderful horse.
We also had to jump a small vertical as we trotted around the arena. I hoped that he wouldn't get too uppity when he saw that we were going down the quarterline to a jump, and he didn't. We actually had some really nice jumps. After two passes over the vertical, Teresa got us started with gymnastics line. By this time, I wasn't worried about Archie at all. We had so much fun with it, too. There were four jumps in a row. They were all small, but that's okay.
I started losing my stirrup in the middle of the jumps one time around. I also started losing my stirrup just before the first jump one time, but I went anyway. I felt wild and crazy and very happy :) I think Archie also felt very happy.
Ahhhh. What a day.