December 16, 2011

Mary and Contender

Pictures from last night will be posted tonight, after I get home from work!

It always helps to have another set of eyes on your horse – and another set of seat/legs/hands if you trust them that much! – and for me, there’s no one else in the world I’d rather have on my horse than my best friend Mary, who happened to stop by on business last night.  I’ve written about Mary before as my co-owner with Venice, my equine partner in crime, and the very best rider I personally know.  Her sense of feel and equine and human body awareness is incredible, and she uses it to get the best out of every horse she rides.  Upon seeing her ride at the clinic last fall, my trainer said, “Do it just like Mary, Jen!” and “She’s welcome to ride here anytime!”

She silently observed and photographed for most of the lesson, which included much walking and working on getting him to do some rudimentary turns on the forehand and turns on the haunches, as well as getting me into a “spiral seat” for spiral ins and outs in order to help him move through and across his hind end.  It made me feel good at the end, though, when she got on and said, “I feel every single thing you just described,” and then quizzed me on what I felt: whether I felt that his dominant foot was the right hind, whether I felt he was unsure whether he has the strength to pick up the left lead, whether I felt him catching himself with his shoulders when he tried to cross with that left hind.  All sorts of stuff I ordinarily would think about more in the context of “Why did this go wrong?” rather than how Mary feels it, which is where each footfall is going and how he is using his body.  I just haven’t developed that finesse of feel yet.

Everything she sits on turns to gold, really, but even still it was wonderful to see her on him for a variety of reasons – not least because I’ve never really seen him ridden by anyone else.  She and I are similarly sized, so I finally determined that I don’t look funny at all on him, and she really had him going nicely at the trot.  I was able to objectively look at how he moves under saddle, how the tack looks on him, how he picks up his feet through the deep corner, and just how far those feet are crossing underneath him.

In short, we didn’t accomplish a whole lot yesterday, but now that I’ve established a baseline with him with Mary, she’s going to be able to talk me through things on the phone better than if she had only seen him go on that trail ride last summer, and that means a lot to me.

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