This week, we finally had some spring-like weather. We seem to have skipped the 60s and gone right to the upper 70s and low 80s, and it has gone almost a whole week without raining. The change is welcome, I must say!
In Team Taco land, we've gone back to basics. Amy (Provost) read my last blog post and decided that I needed to jump in this week's lesson. We walked up to the jump field... and had a walk-trot lesson. I was a remedial student this week.
What happened was that, after a short warmup, Amy tied my right *stirrup* to the girth. As I have mentioned before on this blog, my right leg has a mind of its own and tends to slip back and up. By tying it to the girth, Amy was hoping to give me the feeling of where that leg should be.
However, instead of absorbing the sensation and practicing using that leg in the correct position, I panicked. My body has gotten so used to riding with it too far back that it felt incredibly strange to have it where it belonged. I felt like I couldn't ride at all, and that Taco was on the verge of flying out of control. Not a good feeling!
This exercise and my subsequent meltdown exposed a key problem. Amy got on to show me that Taco was not wild and out of control, and she said that he was far from wild but that he did think that he was in charge. That translated into heaviness in his forehand and rushing, which was what I was feeling and interpreting as "wildness." She worked for a few minutes on his lightness and adjustability, and then had me get back on and try it for myself. I had to use my core muscles much more than I had been doing-- instead of riding defensively and collapsing in my chest, I had to engage my back and abs and become much more stable. And, surprise, surprise, I got some lovely, light movement from him. End of wildness.
Here's the thing: Taco is so athletic and capable, and he has a terrific work ethic and willingness every day. My job is to channel the willingness and talent into brilliant work. Even though Taco supplies so much, I need to ride and not sit there on top admiring him and being a passenger. On some days, he adds some spicy salsa to the taco, and if I have been coasting and not riding, I find that my aids do not work as well as they should! This is what happened the other day. It was a good reminder of the necessity of checking in on the basics. Even on the mild salsa days, I need to check in that my aids are working, and add half-halts and practice adjustability.
After that hardworking session, yesterday was a play day. I took Taco and Crescent to Southern Promise Farm, headquarters of Lauren and her many adventures, for a nice long hack. We went out for about an hour and 40 minutes. It was excellent for Taco's ligaments and tendons, and for all of our mental health (Crescent has a doggy friend there, Bandit, who came along too). We can hack around the track at Amy's, but it is lovely to go for miles through the fields, across streams, and up and down the hills. I am going to try to get over there every few weeks this summer for long rides.
First I had to get out of the driveway at Amy's. Boyfriend the dog was in the middle of his nap.
Boyfriend eventually moved. Here are some pictures of us after our fun ride. Thanks, Lauren!