A Three Gaited Horse
Friday, 15 December 2000
Once again back to Juby! I found out that Francisco too calls Jubileu "Juby", a name I find so fitting for such a big horse . And once again he was not that willing to leave his box - I sympathize with him, I feel the exact same way every morning when leaving for work! With the help of Francisco we got going. There were three students: me, Carlos and a younger girl (guess what... I forgot her name!). The core of the lesson was canter, which was just perfect, as Juby doesn't mind it.
For once Juby was helpful with the corners. After I'd guided us through a couple of really squared corners, Juby realized I didn't want to ride on "auto-pilot", and was keen on driving myself. The rest of the lesson he would pay attention to me and would not take the initiative on turns. When we were approaching the ends of the arena he would slow down, kinda like saying "Hey! You awake up there? There's a wall coming up towards us! What do you want me to do?", but he wouldn't take maters in is own hands.
I concentrated on the turns, circles and changes of reins and let the distance to the other students increase. Knowing that extending the walk or trot with Juby his a lost battle I didn't even worry. Nice square corners and nice round circles (well... almost ) were the trick tonight. "O Juby, Juby! Wherefore art thou slow? Speed up thy walk and extend thy trot; Or, if thou wilt not, be but gentle to canter, And I'll no longer be a pain in the ribs.".
When it came to canter, the lesson really shined. Unwilling as Juby is to speed up in trot, he will canter without insistence. Just ask in a way he understands (which is not a given with me) and he will do it. He won't evade inside, won't avoid the overtake of other walking horses, and he won't require a great deal of assertion to keep on cantering (Asterix, you will not be missed !).
With Juby so cooperative the lesson was very productive. We did several upward and downward transitions, and spent enough time in canter for me to work on the posture and movement (a lot of work to be done there yet!). As we went into canter by turns, that meant we had time in walk to rest and rethink the previous try (and keep on working on those corners).
We had started the cantering part of the lesson with stirrupless canter, which I love. I adopt a deeper, more stable seat without stirrups, so I find cantering easier without them (not to mention that that way I don't loose 'em ). The unpleasant side of that deeper seat was that I soon had the inside of my thighs aching. That tells me I'm not as moulded to the saddle as I thought. I must be supporting my weight too much on the stirrups and not letting myself relax and descend on the seat.
There were only two other incidents during the lesson. The first one occurred when me and Juby were two horse-lengths behind the younger student. With Carlos and Catraia behind us I felt more pressed into keeping closer to the front pair. Convincing Juby to speed up proved unfeasible, he was having none of it. In the end I achieved my goal by cutting a couple of corners. A few minutes passed on at a peaceful walk, when suddenly I saw the tail of the front horse rise. A single word of panic rose in my mind "Oh no! Montera!" , but it was too late, the outburst caught Juby and me full on, without time even for a deep breath! I could almost swear Juby spent several minutes grumbling "I told you so! I told you so! I told you so!" over and over again . From then on we kept a respectful distance from Montera's "Danger - No Smoking" rear end.
The second incident was when Francisco asked for another change of rein. We'd been at it for close to an hour now, and I should have had seen it coming! I was leading the group, and at the proper place I turned in. All seemed normal to me, but trouble was already brewing in the back. Instead of following in single file, the other two horses had fanned out as we approached the centre of the arena.
When we got to X Juby suddenly stopped, and so did Catraia and Montera, on each of Juby's sides. It took some kicking and shouting to get them to move again, while Francisco looked on with a mischievous little smile . I felt temped to look at Juby's left fore leg in search of his wristwatch. They have a very good idea of the lessons duration, and were rightly crossed when we took them to the centre at the appropriate time - and then expected them to keep on moving.
For a change I left earlier. It was just past ten o'clock when I went home .