Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Always, Always, Always End On A Good Note

Hello from the other side of the world! That's right I have finally made it back to the heat and humidity of Okinawa. But before I left I had one last lesson on Loki and it was the best lesson I have had on him so far.

We started off with our shorter stirrups and just got him stretching and bending through the trot and canter. When we went to jump my trainer told me to hold on to Loki's breast plate right before the jump and after. No matter what he did I was not allowed to touch his mouth. Holy Cow! What a difference. After the first couple of jumps Loki realized I wasn't going to touch him and he maintained a steady easy canter through an entire course. He was like a completely different horse, calm and low key! He probably thought I was a different rider, too, lol.

It seems this is what we needed to break the cycle we had started. Him speeding up to the jumps and me pulling on him, Me pulling on him and him speeding up. It is one of those things, I think, that as a rider you know that you need to do but physically have a hard time just letting go of the habit. Having the aid of holding on the breast plate helped me to quell that ingrained instinct I had developed to grab hold of Loki's mouth whenever he got "too fast."

At the end of the lesson Lori gave us one more course that included one very tight/short turn from a combination to an oxer and then a rollback from the oxer to a box fence. The first time through we missed both jumps and ended up jumping something else because I couldn't steer fast enough. Oops! Then Lori explained to me that I still had to actually ride my horse. Just because I wasn't allowed to pull on him right before the jump didn't mean I needed to stop riding him altogether. So we did it again. It took one more try before we got it but the last time through I was able to engage my brain and give Loki one big half halt one stride after the first part of the combination which then enabled us to make the turn to the oxer with another big half halt right before we turned. We hit the oxer on a good stride and after another big half halt before we rolled back to the box fence we made it! At the end of the lesson Lori said, "now that is riding!" which is quite a complement and had me in the clouds for the rest of the day.

Seriously an eye-opening lesson for me. I didn't have to keep grabbing the breast plate over each fence towards the end because once I got comfortable with the fact that my horse wasn't going to make a mad dash for the hills I didn't feel the need to touch the reins. I've been letting my bad habits get the better of me and hopefully this will be the start of forming some new, good habits! (Not just for me but for Loki, too!) In some ways it sucks that we hit such a good stride right as I was leaving but I'm 90% sure that Loki is going to be the type of horse who can take a long vacation and come back pretty quickly. Either way I am super elated and hopefully this euphoria will last for a while to get me through these next couple of weeks of adjustment to life over here again.


  1. Congrats on a great lesson. Welcome back to Japan :)

  2. Yay!!! Sounds like an awesome lesson and what a perfect way to head off!

    I am sure that Loki will remember what an awesome ride that was and look forward to you coming back :)