I have become fond of starting out my New Year of riding with vacations. It all started in 2006 with a riding vacation in Amsterdam, and then in 2007 and 2008, a trip to ride with friends at Denny Emerson’s North Carolina farm, in 2010, Clifford broke down coming back from Pennsylvania, so Suzy and I had to bail on another trip to NC. There was a couple of years of hiatus, but then in January of 2013, I used the MLK Jr. weekend to come back to NC. This year, Suzy and I are back in Southern Pines, NC, but we are changing things up. We found a lovely little place Tanglewood Bed & Breakfast and we brought our young horses, Harry for her and Neuf for me, and we are riding with Andrew McConnon, the resident trainer here, who really likes working with young horses.
Both boys settled in nicely, we ended up not having a ride on Wednesday, but 6.5 hours is a long haul so we did not feel too badly, and we walked them around the farm.
This morning, we had a morning lesson, and it was perfect. Walking over ground poles, then trotting, working up to cross rails and small verticals. Neuf is pretty athletic and big and had a bit of playing up after some of the poles and rails, which entailed his head going down, and me pulling more than I should have, but in my defense there was a fair amount of bounciness on his part. Andrew had me plant my hands and just kick him forward, and that helped some, and Andrew reminded me that it takes two to pull, so I’ve borrowed a neck strap for tomorrow and I’ll see if that helps. But, Neuf figured it out and did super for his first real jumping lesson.
Harry was a complete rockstar! He started out with absolutely no concept of jumping an obstacle, and initially was picking his feet up REALLY high to trot over, but finally, Andrew put a little combination of pole, jump, pole, and had Susan ask for the canter as he came over the first pole and Harry started to get it. A few more times and his last jump was gorgeous! Knees up, square, and he was so proud of himself! He figured it out.
I am really enjoying Andrew’s teaching style, he is very positive and says the good things that you do(really nice for a self-doubting sort of rider like myself, like maybe I could be competent jumping???), in addition to the things to improve. He very much uses positive language, which is so helpful, since the brain has to work harder to process negative language. For example, if you are told to not look up, the tendency is to look up, then correct yourself for the “not”. If told “Look straight ahead” there is nothing to correct. It is nice when instructors in anything have incorporated this into their teaching, it makes a huge difference for me.
The original plan was to go for a walk hack on the Moss Foundation, but the weather turned miserable, so instead we are inside, reading books and will head out to dinner shortly.
Tomorrow will have another lesson, then the plan is one more before we head home on Saturday.