My morning started at 5 am. The clinic started at 8 and I didn't want to be late, even though CS told me I would be riding in the second group. I wanted to listen to what Tarrin told the other riders while they were riding with her and I wasn't sure if it was going to be a group lesson or one on one. J got up with me and we headed to the barn, where she proceeded to hook up the trailer, help me load all of the things, then kissed me and sent me on my way. She had committed to do a volunteer project with T on Saturday, which originally was scheduled for April, and when I committed to the clinic neither of us remembered that the make up day was on that Saturday. It was my first time driving Big Sully while pulling the horse trailer.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am a very independent person and I have hauled trailers before. However, it is different when you know your heart is riding in the back and it would be devastating to have something awful happen to your horse because of a mistake you made. I feel the same way when I have T in the car. Or J. I don't want to make a mistake and cost me those that I hold most dear. And June has not been the best month, if you've been paying attention. But, I "Gina Up"ped myself and drove us to Circle Star Arena. Safely. And people must have been able to tell that I was nervous, because they all slowed down and let me merge without being asshats about it. First time for everything.
I ended up getting there first. And made the mistake of parking my trailer against the edge of the dressage court facing the field (which meant that I had to wait until most of the other trailers had left before I could pull my rig out.) Rookie mistake. Ashke seemed comfortable when we got there and he spent several hours standing at the trailer by himself without any problems. I was very proud.Because the plan was to start at eight, but there was me and some of the trainers from HCWE (who had ridden in a Train the Trainer the day before) they asked me to saddle up and ride first.
We started first on the dressage tests, working one on one with Tarrin to go through each movement of the test. I got to go first. Next time I will respectfully ask to go later, since Ashke and I were not warmed up or ready. But instead, I rode the test.
There were a lot of pointers for me:
- Keep hands higher and reins shorter
- Use outside rein against neck and open inside rein. Do Not Pull
- Deep breath and relax my seat to stop
- Barely touch the quarterline and then swoop back to the rail.
- Widen (but don't drop) hands, and bump with fingers and increase pressure with legs when asking for the stretchy trot.
- Use gentle leg pressure like a hug at all times. No bumping.
- Cue him first from legs and seat, since he is throwing up his head and bracing because I am taking him by surprise.
- Working on relaxation
- Lift with my hands and rock my seat forward when asking him to back.
- The movement on the test is Halt, reinback 3-5 steps, then proceed at walk.
- Drop my hands to rest on his withers when we halt.
- Cue the canter with the outside leg
I learned a lot in that hour long session with Tarrin. I heard a lot of people say they learned a lot from her while we were watching other people ride. Some of it was similar: use legs, keep your hands in the right place, sit back. But a lot of it was tailored to the specific horse and rider. What I learned that morning was worth the clinic fee and we still hadn't gotten to the afternoon yet.