Lesson 10/9: Derby

For all my whining, I’m actually a pretty lucky gal when I make myself sit down in my metaphorical corner and think about it. Not only do I get extra horses to ride, but when Sarah goes out of town I get to steal take one of her lessons on the Derbster. Which is great for a number of reasons (lessons! take all the lessons! lesson things! ‘lesson’ stops looking like a word!). The part that I find most helpful, though, is that I’m still at the point where I need some pushing to get out of my comfort zone– not in the sense that I’m nervous about riding, but that I need to learn that it IS OK, in fact necessary, for me to get to the “demand” stage when whomever I’m riding blows off my request. With Pearl, it’s a lot easier to fake it because she’s already naturally forward, so it at least doesn’t look like I’m going to pass out kicking her around the ring….so she could be going around totally ignoring me, but at least we’re moving.

Derby, however, is much more of a tattletale. If I don’t completely insist that he go forward NOW, he knows that he doesn’t have to, and then that “eh, she won’t make me” attitude creeps into every aspect of riding him. So, our lesson was about getting the pieces one at a time so that when I put them together, I get a nicely going horses. First: forward. Now. Back up with whip if when necessary. After reinforcing, go back to using desired lighter aids, back up with stronger aids if asking nicely doesn’t work. Rinse, repeat until I’m getting the response I want with the level of aids I want to use. Test this by seeing if I can get a larger or smaller step using just my seat. Inside leg– can I get him to soften his ribcage in the corners with my leg, instead of just tipping his nose with my hand? Cut the turns short and leg yield back out to the rail– do all the pieces come together, and if not, where are the holes?

He’s not the easiest type of ride for me, but by the end of the lesson we had some nice moments going.

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