Heather was supposed to have a lesson on Sunday, so we thought the prudent choice would be to take the horses to the arena on Wednesday evening and make sure they could handle it. Both have been in indoor arenas before, but this one is a 3/4 indoor with potentially scary mirrors and barn cats trotting around under foot. No sense taking chances with a nervous horse when you're paying a trainer $85 an hour—we'd get them used to the environment on our own time, thanks very much.
Bunny took only a few minutes to settle, but Blue was especially enchanted by the mirrors. He wasn't scared, exactly, but he felt it was necessary to puff himself up to impress the horse in the mirror. Then the horse in the mirror had the audacity to also puff himself up and prance around. They had a bit of a face-off, but Blue relaxed when he realized that the horse in the mirror was having to work just as hard as he was at his sidepassing. (And really I think he figured the whole thing out within a few minutes.)
Heather has been lending me her issues of Dressage Today as she finishes with them, so I have had some very specific exercises I've been wanting to work on. That night, we worked transitions between back, halt, walk and trot. Blue was game, but heavy on the forehand and not exactly "soft" in any sense. Before he had a chance to get resentful, we switched to spirals for awhile. He was good to the left but stiff to the right. Not a surprise to me. His nose is always tipped left, even just standing at liberty. We're working on this too.
Overall, the night ride at the arena was a good one. We made reasonable progress on a few things, and incremental progress is all I feel comfortable asking of any horse. What was really eye-opening was how sloppy I was. My seat was bouncing all over the place, and it seemed like every time I released the tension in one set of muscles, another set locked down.
I could feel it in my body, and worse I could see it in the mirrors.
Being weak and overweight is incredibly frustrating. I can see that if I were a more sedentary being, inertia would be my friend. Since I'm not, I'm constantly hoisting one or another heavy, unstable object (i.e., my thighs, arms, back, belly) onto the horse and trying to keep them coordinated. I think a lot of the reed-thin riders kind of take for granted that their center of gravity is basically stationary. Mine bounces and wobbles. Here's something I never thought I'd say: I'm fortunate to carry more weight in my belly and seat. I can't imagine being busty and riding effectively.