My Fourth of July riding lesson began with a dumb blonde moment. The horse’s, not mine.

We picked up a……wait for it……wait……20 meter circle.

Crossing the centerline Buttons’ ears perked up and her full attention was focused on the corner. We were no longer on the line of travel. If anything we were performing some distorted version of haunches in on a circle. Ah, on second thought, make that a gourd. I kept the outside rein as she tried to spin around to avoid the lions hiding in the corner. When I released the pressure we were standing still looking at the object of terror. I then asked her to trot on the circle again.

Wash, rinse and repeat.

My instructor asked me to allow her to just stand there for moment to look at “it.” Another student was cooling out along the rail so we followed them tow truck style into lion territory. Huh, she was fine after that.

We then continued the lesson.

Circling to the right Buttons likes to look to the inside and this causes her to fall out. Think of an eighteen wheeler jack knifing. That’s her. Her head and neck = the truck’s cab, body = the trailer. In order to control her outside shoulder I need to keep my outside rein. (I tend to give it away. Sigh.) Outside elbow glued to my hip. No twisting of my upper body. Turn the toe of my inside foot in. Shoulders down and back.

Circling to the left she doesn’t like to look to the inside. She keeps her body bent like she’s still traveling on a circle to the right. In this direction I have to exaggerate the bend around my inside leg. Head to tail.

After about a half hour my instructor jumped on Buttons to demonstrate what she wanted me to do. Buttons didn’t like the idea of softening or bending with her either. I need to be more assertive and get my point across much earlier. Buttons was like butter after that. Of course we still had our moments where I wasn’t quite quick enough with my aids but still…heaven. I think I need a warm up rider.

I ended my lesson chanting:
keep the outside rein
shoulders back and down
elbow to hip
toe in
head to tail…