First lesson of the next group of 10 but I am just going to continue numbering them as if it were in sequence.

It was after 7 by the time we got to the barn tonight. I groomed and put Coopers boots on him and took him into the round pen as the sun was going down. By the time I was done that and tacked up it was time to for the lesson. It is dark now and the earlier lesson was indoors too, I think it was too cold for them outdoors. It will soon be too dark to do round pen work and we will have to go right into our lesson with no ground work. Now that will be fun!! There is no light in the outdoor arena yet for working out there, it would still be good to use when it's not raining and at least until the snow and ice come.

At the beginning we were jogging around the outside of arena, 10 strides then keeping collected do an extended trot for 20 strides, sitting deep when jogging, trying to relax and breathe ( I was not doing that good at all this night). We then did the zig zagging serpentine from one end of arena to the other, changing directions each time and trying to keep his head and neck in between the reins. I was having a hard time, the legs and body did not want to work right, and that was making Cooper fidgety. My hands were all over, this way, that way, up down and all around OH BOY!! I could not relax my seat, legs, shoulders and neck and was very sore at the end. My butt does not work right either as I do not have a lot of feeling down my backside and back of my legs because of the myelomeningocele, so trying to do the figure 8's with my hip bones. There were a few good moments though, it wasn't all rough.

I found that his speed was fairly good in one direction then when we went the other way he would speed up like he was in a race. Most of these times were when he was near one of his favorite pasture mates, who had joined the lessons with us for the first time.

I have to remember to try to lengthen my legs and maybe lengthen my stirrups, bringing my legs back more as I have them too far forward. Could take a long time to train to do that. I asked my coach if she could show me how to get Coopers hind legs to come up under him and she said that is one of the lessons that we will be working on this set. Cooper is getting stronger on his topline, neck, as we move along with the trotting and jogging and soon he will be able to do that hind end collection (is that what it is called?).

I will be practicing this zig zagging serpentine maneuver as much as I can next time I go to the barn

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Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on September 22, 2011 at 1:31pm

Sept 20/11 Tuesday night practice in the indoor arena. There were 4 of us riding tonight, very nice evening. We practiced slowing the jog, hips over, stopping, lots of things. I had lowered the stirrups one hole and my legs felt very relaxed. There was hardly any tension and no soreness at the end of the ride. I have been riding most times now with elastics to try to keep my feet in the stirrups. I can feel it want to come out when I try to use my leg aids and they are stopping the feet from falling out. I have to try to keep my legs stretched and work on the position, all in good time for that.

Cooper was chomping a lot on the bit again tonight, I think probably because I am not releasing soon enough. 

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on September 19, 2011 at 10:59am
I forgot to mention that it was beautiful to see the Western Dressage demonstration. I see a lot of similarities in the riding with what we are learning. I believe they said they were trying to get more of it in Ontario, and there might even be talk of a clinic at my barn! I think Cooper would be great at this!
Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on September 19, 2011 at 10:56am

Sept 17/11 First we went into the round pen for a little work. Cooper was very good again, listening well and coming and sticking to me. We rode in the outdoor arena to practice the exercises from Lesson 11 as the indoor was being set up for the community garage sale the next day. Did some ground work walking around the arena but it was hard for me to walk in that deep sand. Cooper was a little spooky in the far side and corners. He was doing the zig zagging serpentine pretty good except on that far side where he would swerve away from it and I would lose my balance. Have to learn to keep that seat in the saddle.

Sept 18/11 We went to the Community Garage sale today, got there around 11 a.m. Late, we wanted to be there for 9 but couldn't get moving, we are not morning people!! I brought Cooper in during the sale to try on a no name synthetic English saddle and bought it. This is for my daughter to use and I would like to try it also. I also got a nice Billy Cook breast collar, it matched fairly good with my Walnut Circle Y saddle. 

We rode in the outdoor arena again, it was such a gorgeous day. Another boarder rode with me out there for about an hour. We did the lesson 11 exercise again and he was still spooky and swerving at the far side of the arena. Kiowa and Lindsay, the other boarder riding, loped past us and he was fine with it, not even a twitch. Near the end of the hour Cooper was getting tired of working and kept pulling me towards the grass. I didn't let him get away with it and put him right back to work when he did that. I also lowered my stirrups one hole just near the end of riding, I was gripping a lot again with my thighs and my leg was hurting from the prosthesis. I will see how it is the next time I try to get in the saddle and riding with it, it will be more of a struggle to get my leg over that high cantle!!  It did feel better on my legs when I lowered the stirrups. 

I was about to finish and get off when the other girl asked me if I wanted to take a walk around the pond and I went for it

Cooper did very well following another horse. He stopped a few times looking at rocks and tables but we got through it and he was fine. We went down the side lane and into the back door to the indoor arena. That is the spooky spot for Cooper when we ride indoors where the pallet are stored and the Canadian horses paddock is on the other side of that. We had a little struggle going through but once he did it he was ok. We then went for another small walk down the path to the trails, only a little way, but a big step for us. Cooper was great following on the way out and coming back in he did a tiny spook at some some wood that was piled up in the brush. We then went back in the back arena door and this time with no hesitation, just walked right in.

I can't wait to try that again, maybe go a little farther on the trail next time too! There are walk trot trail rides on Sundays for the public and I am always welcome to join in with them if I can get there on time LOL

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