I had a lesson an a half on Monty this week. He is what we call 'forward going' or a 'strong horse' with a great response to anything you ask mostly, but a more than occasional tendency to feel utterly unstoppable. The sort of horse who can prompt people to say 'I don't mind who I ride as long as its not......' although most of us love him dearly
Ordinarily is is jumping that does this to him. Out come the jumps and he morphs from fast but at least responsive into overexcited express train mode, speeding up at each turn. At some point thereafter there is usually a moment where you round the corner towards the jump and you realise that he is completely in the driving seat and all you can do is keep your leg on and hope he feels good about it. He has a good heart and won't ditch you in it for no good reason, but it is still not a good feeling when it happens!
Well on Thursday there was not a jump in sight, but as soon as we started working on canter transitions I knew how it was going to pan out. I had a good ten minutes of 'flaming nora' going on in my head before I got to the well-we-can-just-keep-on-going-in-circles-for-as-long-as-it-takes phase.
I was reasonably able to go with this mindset for about another half an hour during which time I even managed to relax enough to get off my knees and lighten my hands and just once pull off the slow-him-with-your-seat trick. Mostly I relied on a lot of circles and some serious and repeated half halts to get me through though and by nearing the end I was sweating buckets with the sheer energy of trying to hold him.
Then came the utterly-worn-out-please-let-this-end-soon-and-safely phase, as my failing muscles started to show badly. The upshot of this all is that my thighs ache - and I know they shouldn't, but gripping with fear that does that - my triceps and lateral shoulder muscles feel fairly well worked and between the shoulder blades is an absolute killer....phew!
Next time I ride Monty, some how I will make my seat do a lot more talking.