Of course I can, it’s my blog!
And, Leah, in case you’re reading, I’m not just saying this because you let me keep my stirrups today. 🙂
Leah Nelson (first name pronounced Lay-a, as in Princess Leah from Star Wars) is the owner of Sweet Water Equestrian, LLC and she entered my life three years ago, just after I purchased Sebastian. At the time, she was looking to find more lesson clients and I needed someone who was willing to travel to my barn to teach and train. After just a couple of lessons, I knew she was the right fit for Sebastian and I.
Leah is a very special person. She drives about 25 miles to my barn and always arrives, ready to go, with a huge smile on her face. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her angry. She teaches lessons in a very calm and quiet manner. She is always willing to stop and explain more if I don’t understand, yet she gives me a lot of freedom to learn my own feel because, as she says, “You have to be able to do this when I’m not around, too.” (This freedom was a little scary for me at first, but I’ve found that it’s made me a better rider – more in tune to what’s actually happening).
But one of the best things about Leah is that, when you’re with her, you can tell that riding dressage is her passion.
She is never in a hurry to leave, often giving me longer lessons if we’re making great progress or sticking around as I un-tack to talk about dressage theory or to make horse show plans. If she’s doing a training ride, she makes sure to end on a good note and leaves enough time for a treat and scratch at the end of her ride. She is invested in herself as a professional, she is invested in her horses, and she is invested in me.
I’m so lucky to have her in my life!
Just had to give this quick shout out – I’m revved up because I had my first lesson in two weeks today and I got to work on my sitting trot. Since December, the footing in our arena has been a little hard and slippery, so when I’ve ridden, we’ve just been walking, working on the aids for shoulder in and haunches in. It’s been good for Sebastian, to just process these new aids slowly, but I’ve not had a chance to do more than walk in about eight weeks.
Today, I had a lounge line lesson at Leah’s barn and rode a beautiful big warmblood gelding. He was such a sweetie and trotted around like a champ as I experimented with the sitting trot. It was so wonderful to feel like I was really working on my goal for Second Level again. And I remembered how much work I still have ahead of me.
As I’ve mentioned before, the sitting trot has always been a struggle for me. One must be able to sit and absorb all the motion of the horse, finding balance both on the horse’s back and in their own bodies: hands steady while the elbows move, legs lightly hanging down and absorbing motion while retaining the ability to cue and influence the horse, hips loose while the core is strong for support. Sitting trot is an amazing core workout – it’s like doing a million little crunches on a 1200 lb animal. Ok. It’s not like doing that, it is doing that.
I know I’ll feel it in the morning.
But, here’s some great news! My cardio must be paying off, because I didn’t get too winded today! I was working hard and concentrating, but at no point did I feel like I was going to die. What a bonus!
Looking into the arena mirrors, I recognized that I still have plenty to accomplish in the weight loss realm, but I know I’m moving in the right direction.
And, in other news, the new book I just ordered, Dressage for the Not-so-perfect Horse by Janet Foy, just arrived. It appears I have some reading to do!