Sandy is back from the horse shows and I was able to get together with her for a lesson. If you remember, I have been riding Sport aside with Leslie for the last 3 weeks. Leslie is all about equitation and would not let any of us get into the ring without having taught us the finer points of riding. All went very well with Leslie but I believe sidesaddle riding makes her nervous and I was so anxious to hear what Sandy's thoughts were.
For the first time, Sport danced around a bit after I mounted when we went to tighten the girth. No jumping or ear pinning so I am not sure if it was discomfort on his part, or if he was just ready to get moving. He is still young in his training and the minute we started to walk out he did not seem to give it another thought.
When Sandy told me, I asked him for the trot. I started him out slow and after going around the arena once, Sandy asked me for a show trot and reminded me that 5-gaited horses have a larger and faster trot than any other division. I asked him to step up and he did. ....we were flying!
Next was the slow gait. I sat back, opened my hands and jiggled the bit a little from side to side. Sport took the cue and stepped under himself in the back and moved forward. This is the gait I am most unfamiluar with sidesaddle. I noticed I was not sitting square on the saddle, something I noticed I had done before when I rode him. Sandy immediately saw the problem and told me that because I was nervous, I was choking up on the fixed horn, causing my right hip to move forward with the rest of my body following. She coached me to rely on my balance and stay back in the saddle. It was a beautiful thing!! We went around the arena a few times without breaking gait. I used to have a problem keeping him in a slow gait or rack around the corners...but not anymore! In the canter, I am confident and much more comfortable in the sidesaddle than I was in the astride saddle. He has a lot of pop to his canter. The fixed head allows me to stay in contact with the saddle and centered. I love it. Sport will for some reason fall out of the canter going clock wise if I am not on top of him the whole way. Don't know why since this is not an issue at all in the opposite direction.
It was an amazing lesson. Thank you so much Sandy - if you are reading this; I know there are so many still out there that look at me sideways and wonder why in the world I want to do this, especially now that I have an A rated show type horse. I guess some will never understand and that is okay. I so appreciate your support though. It means the world to me!
I did take a video camera with me and Jean was kind enough to tape quite a bit if it. I watched it several times already and critiqued myself as I heard Sandy's instructions to me. Because we were riding in a covered arena on a bright and sunny day though, the light contrast is so much, that I am not sure the video is worth putting on You-Tube. I may have to wait to get a video until we hit our first show. Next week, I will take my still shot camera and get something to post on the blog. Huff... I have to wait 7 more days....