Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Isn't that how a life with horses always feels? You always make lovely progress in one part of the equation and then take a step back and realize that something else has deteriorated! Or at least that's what I always feel.

Both Ringo and Kiki have been feeling good lately. Ringo has had a little bit of time off after his lesson with Brian, mainly just because my academic course load is finally starting to tighten down and require some real time and effort (boooo). Kiki, on the other hand, has had it rather busy with a jump lesson with Beth Temkin on Friday for which she was wild but EXCELLENT. It was (again) our first time jumping since Gina's, so I knew that she was going to be a rocket ship, and so was thrilled when she settled down (as much as she does) midway through the lesson and started to put a really solid effort in. Beth was complimentary of her quality (not something I heard too much where I was previously!), but I definitely caught a glimpse her face after Kiki leaped and bolted at the first pile of poles that we tried to trot over, and I'm pretty sure she was thinking, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?" I was really pleased with Beth's strategies for Kiki (which mostly involved my own body placement on her back, as I'm so tall and she's so little) and thought they worked great; she was jumping single fences off of rather long approaches (for her) with no trouble at all by the end, and felt actually very rideable and listening. Sweet!

Then, today I took her out for a spin and she was AWESOME. Quiet, cool, and relaxed from the beginning, and she gave me moments of trotwork that seemed to come from another horse: floating, cadenced, and powerful. She could only ever hold it for a couple of strides before falling back into "pony mode" but I was still blown away! What a star, Kiki! Now just to make equal improvements in her canter. . .

So the riding has been going well. But then there's polo. This past week has been a long one polo-wise, with two of three sets I rode having pretty bad moments and practice today going pretty poorly. On both Monday and Friday, at least one of the horses I was supposed to pony just would not play along and just kept stopping over and over again. On Friday it was so bad that we didn't even get all the way down the driveway before I had to give up and leave the offending pony at the trailer! In general I can keep a pretty light attitude towards sets because they're so far removed from "real" riding or even "real" polo, but I found the accumulation of stopping to really get on my nerves after a while. I hate it because I can't find a way to school the horses and make them better once they start acting up. They'll just hang on the rope no matter what combination of clucking, chasing, circling, bumping, or anything else that I try until they decide of their own accord that they want to start moving again. Very frustrating!

Then at practice today, my beginner's luck officially ran out, and then some. I sucked!! I couldn't even hit the ball from the trot. I don't know what was up but I felt totally wonky and out of it. I was so bummed! When we played a practice chukker, I just stood in the back of the pack and felt overwhelmed. Definitely a big change from last week, where I was cantering and hitting (definitely not consistently, but enough to feel really pleased about it!) and felt like I could actually ride forward and aggressively without getting freaked out. Today I just couldn't do a thing right! Oh well, it happens. Next week I'll be one week stronger and more experienced, and hopefully I'll bring my brain along to practice with me for a change!

Ringo rides again with Brian on Monday. The real question is, Flat or Jumping? Jumping would be pretty much the same as Thursday, probably, but would be another chance to solidify what we worked on then. Flat would be a whole new adventure with Brian, but I've heard he's fabulous. I'd love to hear anyone's input!


Rachel said...

I did polocrosse a couple of times and I was HORRIBLE at it! Don't know how anyone manages real polo. good luck!

Katherine Erickson said...

oh man polocrosse is so fun! We used to play when I was younger. But I agree, seriously difficult, especially since its hard enough for me to catch a ball with both feet on the ground =)

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