Hands

Dirty mane, stupid winter!
Where have I been?  Snowed in!  I have definitely reached the "acceptance" stage of the shock/denial/anger/acceptance scale.  I am numb to the fact that I didn't get to see Connor from Sunday to Saturday this week - another six inches + ice fell on Tuesday.  Thank goodness I have such good people taking care of him!

That said, I did get a lesson in today.

We schooled flat in our jump saddle today, focusing a lot on my squirrely left hand.  It's always lower than the right.  Look at these pictures from last summer:










Lower...

Lower...


Lower...you get the idea.  How on earth can I ride inside leg to outside rein if my outside rein looks like this?  Exactly.  I can't.

I can tell my trainer has hit that point where she's not sure what to do to get me to correct it.  Part of the problem is that since she pointed it out, I haven't gotten time to puzzle it out on my own in between lessons thanks to the weather.  Part of it is that we are doing technical things that are new for me, and since carrying my hands properly is not yet an ingrained behavior, and you can only think actively about one thing at once, it's getting relegated to the backseat.

All that said, I tried hard today and Connor felt very good.  He was forward, super forward, after his new clip, and was very full of himself.  She said he started out not knowing what to do with that much energy, and then settled in nicely.  We worked on body control a lot, and especially on giving with the inside rein.  If I give with the inside rein, and he stays in my outside rein, he's carrying himself.  If I give with the inside rein and he falls apart, he's relying on me to keep him together, and we should be getting past that, if I can just give up that inside rein.  For most of the time in my rides now, he's in self-carriage - this is very new!

The rest of the lesson was spent schooling counter canter.  Left lead in either direction is easy, but we blew the right lead counter canter a lot.  "You can tell that both of you are more comfortable picking up the left lead canter."  I'm sure this has to do with my one-sidedness, but I'm not sure why quite yet.

"At any rate, counter canter doesn't show up til prelim.  You have a while," she joked.  Connor will likely max out at Training.  But he feels so good at the regular canter after a bit of counter canter, which is why we're schooling it.

Cooling out.  I like to make him go over everything in the arena, and at weird angles, when we're just walking around.  It's good for him to think about where his feet are, per Aunt Mary!

Team practice tomorrow, and she put this up on the farm's Facebook tonight:



Bring it on, it looks like fun!

17 comments:

  1. Once you focus on your hands you will get better! My trainer and I just went through this with my inside rein (mostly tracking left) and I had to hard core focus on it for a little bit but am MUCH better now! It definitely goes against everything your body thinks it should do. Plus once you get used to really riding inside leg to outside rein (and really giving up that inside rein) counter canter will be a breeze ;)

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, I feel like you and Mystic are just up the road from where we are training-wise, so it really helps when you chime in! Learning to let go is so hard! :-)

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, I never take it for granted. The picture does make it look really big though!

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  3. Riding is so hard! That arena looks gorgeous and fun. Enjoy!

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    1. That's what makes it fun, right? Thanks!

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  4. What a gorgeous picture of the arena!

    I have a suggestion for your hand. Ride with both hands higher than normal. I think it is easier to maintain an exaggerated correction because it is so different than the position you are trying to correct. Later, when your muscle memory is reprogrammed, you can allow your hands to lower to the correct position. Be sure to keep your shoulders down. The correction should come from a greater bend in the elbow.

    This is how my teacher helped me to fix various rider misalignments of my own.

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    1. That's a really good idea, I'm going to try that next time I ride. I can see that working really well, it's similar to other habit-breaking exercises I've done in the past. Thanks, I always love it when you comment on biomechanics problems, I really appreciate your input!

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  5. I want to come to your barn! That does look like fun!

    Has your trainer had you ride with a crop that you hold with both hands. I've never done this exercise but I've heard it can be good at giving a feel to keeping your hands level and even. I'm sure you'll get it once you have time to really concentrate on it.

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    1. Come visit, we're not all that far from you! :-) She hasn't, although she did have me ride with a crop behind my back/in front of my elbows before, a long time ago. We're starting to think it's shoulder related and not hand related.

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  6. Retraining your muscles is so, so tough. But once you are able to get in a few rides where that's all you can focus on it'll be right there!

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    1. Yes it is, why do we develop these bad habits in the first place?! Haha.

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  7. You are not alone in this habit. I battle it and I constantly have to get the girls who ride my horses to pick up their hands too. It can make a huge difference. With the way you learn this won't be a problem long :)

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    1. It always feels better to know you're not alone in something. :-)

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  8. I'm working on fixing my hands this year, too. You know, if/when I can ever get back in the saddle.

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    1. Move to Indiana, I will donate my indoor to you! And oh, can you imagine the shenanigans we'd participate in and the fun we'd have together? Come on, you know you want to. :-)

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  9. At least you are aware of the problem, that is half the battle.

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