And I don't just mean that I give Aiken a Thumbs Up, although I do. I have been enjoying myself quite a bit and it is such a treat to be here. No, what I mean is that a bad habit of mine has been brought to my attention: my hands, especially the left one, like to turn over so the knuckles of my fingers are up. The ideal position, however, is with the thumbs on top. There is something about having your hand in this position that allows the arm to move and act in the proper way. On the other hand, the knuckles on top position creates tension and lack of elasticity at least all the way up to the shoulder. I had thought that I had dealt with this tendency of mine, but apparently it's still there.
Thumbs on top, therefore, has been a theme in the last two rides I've had. Yesterday, I had the much-anticipated privilege of my CANTER Mid-Atlantic auction lesson with Jennie Brannigan. Jennie was very gracious to donate a lesson to the organization for their annual fundraising auction, and I was delighted to be the winning bidder! Taco is a CANTER horse so it was all very apropos. Anyway, I managed to find Red Oak Farm, where Jennie works for Phillip Dutton (a.k.a. PDutty), and got tacked up in my jumping saddle.
The idea was to start out with some flatwork for us to get to know each other, and then move on to some jumping. Jennie welcomed me and met Carol and Amy, who both came along for moral support/ dog wrangling/ photography/ sports psychology. And then we got down to work. Jennie's style is very focused and she is quite descriptive about what needs to happen, which I appreciated. And she immediately zeroed in on my position, especially my hands (thumbs on top!), arms, and shoulders. "Ride every day as if you are at a show," she said, meaning that my position should get as much attention and be as correct as if I were in front of a judge during all of my practice sessions. She also worked with me on straightness and on filling the space just in front of the withers with energy from the hind legs. Taco went really well and I got some new ways to think about these important basics.
Then we moved on to some jumping. As usually happens when I start jumping, my IQ dropped a hundred points when she had me trot the first little vertical. I got a little flustered and forgot about some of the straightness and forwardness things I had been doing. I calmed down and started thinking again, for the most part. Jennie really emphasized adjustablity, pushing on between fences and then coming back but keeping the RPMs on the approach. This helps to get him to the base of the fence and power nicely over it. Then she had to remind me to release as he takes off. Here we all are practicing those things.
As you can see, I got really spastic on the way to the skinny and Taco was very generous to jump it. So Jennie had me do the line again a couple of times. She wanted me to sit up and keep my leg on after the triple bar. I got better at this, I am happy to say.
All in all it was great fun and a good thing to do. The things that we worked on meshed well with what Amy has been teaching me. And Amy was able to come watch, so she knows what we worked on. Of course, now she has backup for the various issues that she has been on my case about! She was merciless about the thumbs on top today, geeesh.
I am very sleepy and tired and unable to write more now, but I will write later about the very constructive dressage lesson Amy gave me today.
And on a parting note, here is Taco's favorite part about Aiken: naps in the sun and sand.
4 hours ago