Oh man. Turns out taking almost 2 weeks off from riding and any other physical activity was not the best idea if I expected to be able to ride my horse well upon my return.
On Tuesday morning I decided to start the new year off right and visit my horse. Donning my winter weather attire, I headed out with the full intention of riding and sorting out Ben's feed. Well, once I got to the barn, I made the mistake of settling in and catching up with my barn buddies. Standing around chatting in 30 degree weather makes for 1 freezing rider. My feet were so frozen and completely numb. My fingers were going too- but I was quickly turning into a brick of ice. So instead I sorted out the feed and decided to leave.
But dangit - once I got in the car I started to feel guilty. Not only did I not ride, I realized my next ride would be during my lesson, which was scheduled for Thursday. I really was hoping to get back in the saddle at least once before a lesson. As I drove away I was getting a little more depressed. Then I had a brilliant idea. I decided to go get some lunch and hot coffee, and sit in my car, with the heat blasting on my feet, while I ate. If I could reasonably thaw out my paws, I'd go back and ride. It worked. So back I went. I wasted no time to fetch Ben, get him ready, and to get on.
It was so weird being back in the saddle! Haha, I felt like I had no balance. Amazing how quickly those skills go. We had a short ride in which I attempted to walk, trot, and canter. Everything was okay, except for our canter to the left. First of all he just wouldnt pick it up. and when he did I could tell he was very guarded and unhappy about it. I got what I thought was decent, and then decided to end it - not wanting an overly sweaty horse in very cold temps.
Fast forward to today- I was able to sneak in a morning lesson...which meant riding in 25 degree weather. Oh man it was cold. God, I'm such a whiner, LOL. This time I rolled up to the barn and decided that no matter what, I was not going to stop moving. I tacked ben up, put on his quarter sheet, and then another fleece on top of that, and took him for a walk so he could stretch and pee (he is seriously like taking a dog out for a walk - must go out to pee). Then into our lesson we went.
All things considered, our ride was pretty nice! As it turns out, Ben's canter problem was my problem... Failure to Establish Outside Rein Connection. Dammit. So basically my whole lesson I rode on just the outside rein, and my seat/legs. And it worked.
Not only did I fix my canter issues, I also got some really nice canter work! He has clearly been working on this with the trainer. It just keeps getting nicer and nicer.
Tomorrow I have scheduled another lesson - hey, why not. I just need to get back into the swing of things, and I may as well be instructed along the way!