Our first ride together.
Square 1 for us was the trot. Well square 1 was really creating a bond between us but we are talking about contact. So square 1 for contact was a trot. A brief definition of contact I found online is;
The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight. We started out a hot mess. Well he was hot and I was a mess, not to mention 45lbs fatter! But after a couple months of just trying to get to know each other and not having any expectations I took him to our first lesson. In which I was introduced to the sport of eventing and Steady's potential to succeed at the sport. So my back yard buddy and I started to have a goal to work toward. It took months of just working at the trot to find not only how to get contact but how to know what it feels like under saddle so I could recognize when he was doing as I was asking. I can assure you that the first time my trainer said "thats it, did you feel his back round underneath you?" and when I responed "YES", I was lying through my teeth! I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.
But ride by ride, step by step we just kept at it. Repetitious? Yes, but it was square 1 for us and we could not move passed it until we, not mastered(is that even possible?) but could at least get it on a semi-regular basis and most of all that I could even know what it was that I was asking for. I mean a trainer can tell you step by step instructions which will make for A good ride but we needed consistent good rides without a trainer in my back yard. So I needed to know what it was I was trying to get from my horse. That took months and in our timeline we are probably up to about October. So from April to October 90% of our time was spent on trot, trot, trot, contact, contact, contact. We occasionally tried to pick up a canter but no more than a few strides and that was ran into and usually on the wrong lead(well except on trails wherewe would canter and when we just hacked and had fun).
Finally sometime in October I took a lesson with a different trainer. She was trying to get me to do the same thing as the other one but with different methods and verbage. With her help we seemed to be able to get and maintain that contact better than before. But like I said unless I knew what I was trying to get it didn't help once we got home. But an amazing thing happened while riding at home a couple days later. A light bulb went off in my brain, one that had obviously already gone off in Steady's and he was waiting for me to catch on. The whole concept of this thing called contact! What it was and I don't mean the definition I mean what it meant for me and my horse. What we were striving for and why. It wasn't because it made him look pretty prancing around the ring(sad to say in my ignorance that is all I thought it was). NO it was a continuous, fluid connection between my horse and me. It was our method of communication it was our language when under saddle. My hands, my arms, my hips, my legs, my posture, my seat and even my mood effected this continuous "conversation" that we were having. I can only imagine what it was like for Steady between the time that the light bulb went on for him and the time it finally went on for me. I can imagine it was like any other language barrier. Have you ever tried to explain something to someone who does not understand your language and you do not understand theirs? I have to do it on a daily basis when at work. It is one of the most frustrating experiences. My guess is Steady was beyond frustrated. I kept asking him for something he was trying his hardest to give to me and when he did I couldn't even recognize it.
So that was our begining...
To be continued...the next few months=progress.