Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gymnastic Sundays!

You may remember that I've started taking fairly regular lessons with Allison Spivey of Sprieser Sporthorse.  One of the reasons that I wanted to take lessons with her (aside from hearing some very positive things in general) is that during the winter, she does Gymnastic Sundays.  Gymnastic Sundays are essentially ground pole and cavaletti exercises for dressage horses.

This past Sunday, I slogged my way out to the barn, put the truck in 4-wheel drive, waded through the new pond that had formed as a result of the biblical rain and snow we've been getting, and hitched up my trailer.  Then, I loaded my stuff and squished through boot-sucking mud to retrieve my horse, who normally comes up to me, but decided instead to stand in the farthest corner of the field.  (All the better to watch me trudge through the mud, I guess.)  Next, I hosed my horse's whole lower half off because it was coated in mud, and I wanted to appear civilized for my lesson.  This plan may have worked except that I felt the need to stop at Burger King on the way and somehow managed to spill the ketchup sauce from a Whopper all over the front of my sweatshirt...

Anyway, regardless of my less-than-impressive appearance, I had an awesome lesson.  The arena was totally decked out with tons of ground poles and cavaletti patterns, and while Nimo was at first seriously concerned about even walking into an arena that had clearly been sabotaged by an irate lumberjack, he eventually figured out that the poles were not some kind of new predator lying in wait for him to pass by.  He even learned that he could pick up his feet and within just a few minutes of going over the ground poles, he was already moving so much better.

Below is my kind of feeble attempt to show you what patterns were set up in the arena.  I've outlined a pattern that you could do to incorporate all of the ground poles (there was also a set of cavaletti, but we didn't do that exercise, so I left it out of my drawing).  We never did the whole routine I've outlined here, but we did quite a few variations of the individual patterns as well as a some combinations.  The set up of poles worked really well, and I wish I could set something like that up at my barn.  But, it is primarily a hunter/jumper barn, so the arena is always set up with a full jump course.  Luckily, I'm signed up to do these lessons every other week, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the results.  In particular, I'm excited to show Allison that I am capable of steering my horse (apparently I get left and right confused sometimes) and I'm hoping that the next super fantastic canter we do does not end with me almost falling off because I got so excited that I lost my focus and my stirrup and nearly bounced right off the side...



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