Boot Camp: Tonka II

I’m so sorry for the lack of media for this lesson – I really want some photos of me running the barrels, but my normal picture-taker is recovering from surgery ūüė¶

How awesome is barrel racing?!? IT’S SO FUN!

I was pumped for my second lesson on the barrels, but it, again, started slowly, with some fear with me. Tonka’s navicular makes his right lead canter really off-kilter, and that, combined with the western saddle and my natural fear produced a whole lot of perching on my end.

And for Tonka, perching means go.

Luckily, Tonka also has nice brakes. So I’d ask for the canter, get it, get scared and perch, get¬†more¬†scared because he was speeding up (like I was asking him to!), and then whoa. Nice, Annye.

But you know what? As soon as Kim coached me through¬†keeping my butt in the saddle, we got quite a nice canter – controlled but forward – and I wasn’t scared at all.

(I like cantering. It’s my favorite gait by far. This damn fear from my stupid accident just has be completely discombobulated.)

The key for me is that I need to keep my seat in the saddle¬†during the canter¬†transition. I caught a glimpse of this revelation during my rides on Hollywood, but I didn’t really feel it until Tonka wouldn’t take anything but.

So that was my first light bulb moment. The second came as we were attempting to run the barrels at a slow canter. Tonka kept getting more and more upset, I kept getting more and more tense, and our runs kept getting slower, messier, and scarier.

As I get tense, I brace. I think I’m half-halting – I’m trying to half-halt – but really I’m leaning on the horse’s mouth and transferring all of my tension there. And that really doesn’t make for a happy pair.

Instead, my half halts have to come from my¬†core, not my forearms. Of course I knew this, but I didn’t really understand the difference between my bracing and a nice half-halt until Tonka kicked my ass at my lesson.

(I went home and stumbled across a really cool show-jumping round where the rating from the rider was so obvious Рand he was doing it all from his seat and core. No bracing! It was a great emphasis to my lesson learned.)

I ended on a super-fun run around the barrels that made me feel accomplished and proud. I’ll tell you what – these lessons are doing wonders for my self-esteem, as I encounter timely¬†aha! moments and grow more and more confident.

On to the next one!

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