After handling and sitting on Skeeter yesterday, I've come to realize that as much as I loved Her Highness, riding her was like driving a rugged old Jeep - great for ranch work and four-wheeling, but not super quick or responsive.
Miss Skeeter, on the other hand, is becoming a Ferrari - light and responsive. (I'm hoping that we'll instill some four-wheeling in her out on the trail without losing the light responsiveness.)
Our lesson started off with Jessica showing me everything they've been working on. It had been ten days between lessons for me, so there was a lot of stuff. A lot.
|Laying across her bareback, getting her used to seeing a human with both eyes.|
|Working on transitions in the round pen|
|Finally, some up-and-overs. Mount on one side, dismount on the other.|
After Jessica was done with the show-and-tell, it was my turn to practice. We started with some driving with the stirrup from the ground, which I'd never done before, but was pretty cool. It's teaching Skeeter what the squeeze from the stirrup means, if I squeezed (pushed in) and she didn't walk off, then it was bump-bump and a cluck to get her moving. We worked both sides and then I lined her up with the mounting block and started leaning over her, flapping the stirrups, rubbing her neck and butt, and generally letting her know I was there.
This was all stuff we had done before at home, so it was comfortable for both of us. It's nice to know that some of the foundation we laid came in handy in her training.
Then it was put weight in the stirrup and do the same thing - lean, rub, flap, etc. She walked off a step or two, but as soon as I lifted the lead rope she immediately stopped. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing that was to me. I went from having to stand on the brakes (Estes) to just thinking about the brakes (Skeeter).
We worked both sides with the standing, leaning, rubbing, flapping business a couple of times before I sat astride. She was rock solid, so we worked on flexing to the right and left just a bit before I dismounted. She had to move her feet a little bit, just a couple of steps, but a slight lift of the lead rope and she came to a dead stop.
I spent far more time than I should have at Jessica's, but I am so thrilled with her progress. I know I say that every week, but it's true. I could have gotten Skeeter rideable and out on the trails, but I would never have been able to give her this level of education. I would have trained her to be a perfect serviceable Jeep and missed out on the pleasure of driving a Ferrari.
(Jessica did take some pictures of me, as soon as I get them, I'll post.)