I had a riding lesson with Christine of Teener Thoroughbreds last night. Christine has begun teaching weekly lessons at my barn and I wanted to take advantage of her expertise. Besides, it has been over ten years since I took lessons regularly--gasp!
I started off by showing her some basic signs that past instructors had used for simple commands such as walk, trot, canter, reverse direction and stop. For more complicated instructions, she was to beckon me over to the middle of the arena. Teaching a deaf student riding lessons can be a bit of a challenge, but both parties always adapt quickly. I also told her I wanted to work on my posture (I felt that I slumped forward too much while riding) as well as Limerick's overall fitness, which is more important than ever as she ages.
She watched me warm Limerick up and after I had walked Lim a lap, she beckoned me over and suggested that I either lengthen my stirrups by one hole or push my legs back. Doing so would open up my hip angle and allow me to sit up straighter. Although I'm a runner, I found it difficult to keep my legs pushed back. After a while, I asked if we could just lengthen my stirrups a hole and she said no, I have to be challenged! Ha--fine!
We then worked on me shortening my reins. I admit it--I ride with way-too-long reins. I'm not entirely sure why, but there it is. In order to shorten the reins, she had me sit deep and lean back. In between leaning back and pushing my legs back, I felt like a gymnast contoured into a backwards 'C' shape but I know it didn't actually look like that.
We trotted and all went well, then Christine asked for a canter. I was expecting Limerick to misbehave a little bit at the canter, and she did not disappoint. Don't get me wrong--she was about 90% great at the canter. However, just like the little girl with the curl, when Miss Lim is bad, she's very bad! But I rode through her bucking fits and attempt at bolting without much issue. Next time, I think riding her a day or two before the lesson will take some of the edge off!
Towards the end of the lesson, Christine had me ride Lim with short reins at the trot, and we did some figure eights in the middle of the arena, as well as over a pole. By then, Miss Lim was light and responsive. We ended the lesson on that good note.
The lesson was a big step towards polishing my riding skills and granting Lim the fitness to weather her senior years with greater ease. I have another lesson in a couple weeks, and I am already looking forward to it!