It FINALLY got warmer this week!
Wednesday morning it still was in the upper 20's F, and when I took my lesson at 1:00 PM the ring was just starting to thaw out. I figured it would barely be warm enough to use the bit (mullen mouth snaffle), though Mia was not too sure about that! I changed back to my jumping saddle
because riding in my dressage saddle
was making new muscles sore, especially in the front of my upper thighs. I thought it might be easier on me. HA! At my age ANY change in physical activity seems to make my muscles sore. Since my training goal right now is to get Mia strong enough in the hind-quarters and back to willingly canter, I am doing a lot more of the three speeds of the trot exercise, and trying to get both Mia and I strong enough to trot several times around the ring.
Because I am experimenting between 3 different ways to sit the trot, I am often using muscles I have not used for decades when riding. Wednesday I switched between using the Forward Seat sitting trot which REALLY gets to the muscles in my lower back, and the old-style method of sitting the trot (using my butt muscles to move my pelvis, as taught to me in the 1970's,) which gets to my inner muscles of my upper thigh. For right now I am not using the other method I use, moving my pelvis with my front abdomen muscles, because that method seemed to drive Mia's forehand into the ground. While my seat bones feel 'glued to the saddle" more when I use the muscles in front of my abdomen, Mia moves her back more from side-to-side instead of up and down, and I hear her forefeet sort of 'splatting' down harder than when I use the other seats. Mia's slow trot has improved since I changed how I ride it, there is more impulsion, and her back moves up and down more and less from side-to-side, and there is a hint of suspension. My seat also seems to be improving, my legs feel longer when I use my butt muscles, and I lessen the frictional grip of my knees allowing my knee to drop lower, which means that my feet are not rattling inside the stirrup irons as much. Her normal posting trot is also stronger, definitely showing suspension and a lot more drive, and I am getting a much faster fast trot out of her.
So there I was, trotting around the ring, doing one cycle at the normal trot, then one at the sitting trot, back to the normal trot, and a short distance at a faster trot, then back to the normal trot. Then I collapsed, with burning muscles either in my lower back (FS) or in my inner, upper thighs (using my butt muscles.) Mia was not in much better shape either, I was making her work harder than ever before. When I kept contact with the bit Mia stood it for a while, but after a few rounds of the ring I think she started cramping in her neck muscles. First she tried to invert, and I moved my hands forward and squeezed with my legs and her head went down. Then she started dropping the bit, repeatedly going down into almost a LDR head position then back up again. So I let her have rein until she moved smoother under me, then I picked up contact again. Debbie told me my hands were fine, nice and steady, and that Mia was not acting up just because of my hands. I guess with Mia's weakish back it is unrealistic to expect her to keep perfect contact for a long time. As her back and hind-quarters get stronger I will be able to keep good contact for a longer period of time.
Friday Debbie kindly let me ride in the ring while she was giving a private lesson to one of her boarders. Keeping out of the way of the other horse Mia and I repeated our exercises. We did not get up to going around the ring three times at the trot, for one I was too sore, and I also had to work around the other horse, repeatedly changing directions and avoiding the landing zones of her jumps. I got real tired. At least I had no contact problems as I was using my Jumping Cavesson bridle and did not keep her on contact much. After 25 minutes Debbie started to send her student over more jumps, so I got out of the ring, figuring I could do some serpentines at a walk on the way back to the barn.
Mia did NOT like this. The first time I rode her a year and a half ago I noticed her tendency to "bolt" (at a walk) back to the barn. I practiced several halts and some circles every time I rode back to the barn for a few weeks, which fixed that problem. Mia became resigned to being stopped when she thought she should be able to get to the barn as fast as she wanted. Nowadays I walk her back on loose reins with no problems. But on Friday I asked for something new, a serpentine. Mia saw NO reason why she should go back and forth when she could walk straight back to the barn! She became quite resistant to turning, making me use the leading rein for my turns. Fortunately before I got back to the barn she resigned herself to this new proof of my insanity and cooperated the last two turns of the serpentine. I got off then, loosened the girth, and led her into the barn. Obviously I am going to have to ask more of her when I ride her back to the barn until she realizes that even when her work period in the arena is over she still has to obey me even if it does not make any sense to her.
I was just as sore and achy Friday as I was Wendesday. It seems that if I do not use a muscle EVERY week it just gets weaker and weaker, until it feels like I never used it before! Mia also gets sore and achy with the exercise though she seems to improve every week. Since Mia is a little older than me in horse years (in her twenties, me in my late fifties), I figure we are just two old crochety achy females complaining about our never ending aches and pains.
SOMEDAY I will stop getting sore. I really look forward to that day.
Have a great ride.