On Thursday I had another lesson with Ron Paterson. I was extremely nervous. Sam has improved greatly since our last lesson but Ron is very gruff and he does not really like Sam. Sam loaded quietly with a few hesitant steps but no rearing this time. Benny didn't want to be caught so it was good Sam had to stand in the float for about 5min all by himself. He called a few times but other than that he was very well behaved.
Off we set. I am always very nervous about floating, I have never had an accident or and I have never had any horses ever go down in a float with me but all the horror stories you hear make me worry. We had an awesome run only had to stop at one red light and got to the lesson in 35min instead of 45min. Sam unloaded quietly and both horses were happy to stand in yards next to each other and play.
We saddled up and started our warm up. Sam was good except when Benny trotted off in front of him. He tensed and went to trot after him. I asked him to turn in a small circle and walked him over into the arena next to where Benny was working. This seemed to settle him and he was quite happy to trot around in a long round frame. He listened to the transitions but wasn't as forward as I would have liked. I didn't want to push the issue knowing we had an hour of work ahead of us.
The lesson began - we were working on our positions. We started at the walk and held our hands out to the sides but in front of us, felt for a light contact and made sure we had our legs off. I had forward!!!!! I had been gripping with my knees and thighs so tight that it was really hard for Sam to step out and move forward. He still needed a tap every now and again to remind him to stay forward but it was awesome. We also bought both hands over to the inside to bring the horse onto a smaller circle. If he drifted out to use the outside leg. Then using the inside leg push them out. This created bend to the inside and had them working from the inside leg to the outside hand.
I also have to give more through my hips and not brace myself so much. Up into the trot and Sam really started to reach down, trot out and bend. He was even softer than at home - I did not realise this was possible, well not with Sam. Up into canter. First canter to the right was fine but canter to the left was a disaster. Up on his hind legs again. I don't know what I did or why it happened. Sam came down and I just asked him to keep on trotting around. Ron wanted me to canter straight away again but I needed to calm down. I asked for a moment which he wasn't happy with but I refused to canter when my heart was racing at a million beats a second!!!! Asked again, wrong lead, asked again it was right lead and Sam was a lot more settled this time. Bend to the outside for a good two circles, bend back in and he softened and gave, lovely.
Back to trot. 20m circle, do 3 smaller circles in this 20m circle. Ask for the smaller circles by bringing both hands over to the inside. At the end of the third circle use your inside leg to push him out onto the large circle. Then do two small circles and push out to the large circle and then do one small circle and push out the larger circle. Repeat the exercise on the other rein. I found this helped better getting Sam listening to my inside leg. Oh and turn your body in from your hips. Turn your upper body to where you want to go.
We had a break and that is when the next lesson started to warm up in the arena next to ours. I lost Sam then. We were about 45min into our lesson and he just lost all concentration and wanted to chat to the other horse. At trot he was OK but I couldn't get him to canter again and when I finally did I couldn't get him to go forward. It felt as though he was cantering on the spot. Ron couldn't help me. I just tapped with my legs, tried to not grip with my legs and didn't touch his mouth. Ron wanted me to have a contact and even bring him around onto a smaller circle if necessary. Sam finally cantered out a bit more but it wasn't forward. I was uptight during this and I am sure that didn't help it. I think I am really nervous asking for canter. I am scared about putting that outside leg behind the girth, what if he bucks or really doesn't like my leg there. Why am I like this? I think because previous horses have played up either pig rooting or bucking going into canter. I prefer to use my voice to get Sam to canter. Something I need to work on.
Lesson over and Sam was still full of beans. He must be quite fit, a lot fitter than I give him credit for. He coped well with the lesson I think. Yes he lost focus but I believe an hour of concentration is a lot to ask of him and me!!!!!! I untacked and took him over to the round yard so he could have a well earned roll. He only rolled one side then was looking for food. We let them pick for a good 30min and I iced both front legs for this time. I am still quite wary of his tendon sheath. Sam took a little longer to load to come home. Still no rearing but he was a little more hesitant. I was still happy with him. The lesson gave me a lot to work on, lots of things to think about.