Friday, 25 May
No much to say about this lesson, really. I rode Mefisto again, and this time taking them from the paddock was not much of a problem. Ice did (as usual!) go to the wrong place, but I went get him and took him to is place without any problem.
There were four of us in the lesson, back in the smaller arena, as it was way to hot to be ridding outside - even past seven in the evening! We did the usual exercises, nothing new there. By the end we did some more pair work, where I had some difficulty slowing Mefisto down without reverting back to walk. Lotus owner, who was my pair for the exercise, called my attention to my hands, telling me that I was a little out of phase with Mefisto's motion, and that was interfering with his mouth. At the time I wasn't quite sure what she meant, although something was obviously wrong with me and Mefisto, the motion of my hands felt right - or I wouldn't be doing it. I know already well enough that in riding felling
right doesn't necessarily mean that it is
right. Even if I couldn't make much of an improvement during the rest of the lesson, when it was ended I made a point of asking her if she could explain better what she had been trying to say. Not only was I genuinely interested in her opinion, I also wanted to make sure that she knew that not only had I not resented her observations, I was in fact receptive to them!
People sometimes are too "sensitive" to other's suggestions. So much so that a lot of the time people refrain from offering suggestions, concerned that others might take offence. I know that I am very careful and diplomatic when suggesting anything (usually in a non-horsey background, as I hardly ever have an opportunity to offer suggestions there
Wednesday, 30 May
Well, tonight I had another chance of ridding Pipas. Curiously, for once, she was not mad for running (someone must have shot her with a tranquilliser dart before my arrival
). She now has a strange different saddle... some sort of traditional Portuguese saddle I guess (not the
Portuguese Classical Saddle mind you!). It had the inner structure uncovered, plain to see. As far as I could tell instead of a tree it had two rigid - and padded, of course - bearing surfaces, connect by two "bridges". The seat itself was supported on the "bridges". Apparently there was more freedom between the two halves than found in normal saddles, also the support of the seat was springy and the saddle creaked like crazy! All in all it was very comfortable and made it easier to feel the motion of the horse below.
Tranquilliser or not, Pipas is still not a horse easy to be mounted. Not only is she tall, but she fidgets a little, making one's job harder. I was trying to get her to stand still for time enough to mount when Francisco gave me the traditional Portuguese form of encouragement, that I think could well be translated to the traditional English form of encouragement "Don't be a sissy and get on with it!"
. I finally got on board, being greeted by a loud and prolonged "creeaaakkk"
from the saddle. We started our warm up at walk ("Creeeeaaaakkkk... Creeeeaaaaakkkk"
), a bit of sitting trot ("Creak, creak, creak, creak"
) and finally a spell of posting ("Creak....... Creak......Creak...<look down - wrong diagonal>... Creakcreak...... Creak"
By far the funniest moment of the lesson came when Francisco had us slow down to walk to talk about the importance of a correct posture. He had corrected one of the other students a few times already, and he was explaining why he insisted on it, the importance of the seat to influence the horse, etc. At this time Pipas decided to have some fun at my expense. She stopped suddenly and, when I asked her forward again, started to back into the middle of the arena. Francisco didn't miss a beat in his speech, he just went on saying: "... for instance, if Pedro would straightened up and put his shoulders back, the horse would go forward...... But you see, he insists on lurching forward and the horse just escapes under him...... Now, if he squeezes the legs forward, the mare will go...... See?"
. It was absolutely hilarious, there I was, trying really hard to get Pipas to do my biddings, hearing the real time commentary by the straight-faced Francisco. When I had finally gotten Pipas walking in the right direction, he looked at me, smiled and asked if I had understood :-).
The rest of the lesson was unremarkable. Doing circles with Pipas is a breeze, in fact I have to be careful not to overdo the inside leg or she would just fly outwards. On the other hand, canter work left a lot to be desired. Even if she kept at a (more or less) slow gait, she acted like a F1 Grand Prix - leaning dangerously inside, steering like a ton of bricks on an ice-skating ring, shaking her head, etc. Not exactly what was expected out of the exercise!