January 20, 2012

Weight, Balance and Body Position

One of the primary reasons I am where I am is because I know I'm not capable of critiquing myself at a finite level, and because I know these little errors all add up to equal a confused horse when you're riding a green bean.

As I wrote last week, we're having bending issues that stem from the right hind on both directions.  Two different outcomes in two different directions, one cause.  Today, we didn't start with him, we started with me.  More bend in the elbows, moving from the elbow instead of the shoulder, keeping the shoulders tall and engaged, keeping the hands wider than normal as an exaggeration to counter my normally narrowly placed hands, left thumb on top, chest more in front of my biceps (which brings my shoulder girdle up, something I'm terrible at).  She explains the reasoning behind all this so well, and I never do on this blog, but rest assured it was as much of a biomechanics and physiology class as it was instruction.

And BOOM!  Something clicked tonight and everything WORKED.  I felt incredibly solid, and he was so much lighter, straighter and actually beginning to come into my outside rein.  I could have gotten down on myself here about being the cause of his problems, but I was so elated at how everything felt that there was no way I could feel bad about it.

The big revelation came when she pointed out that I was collapsing to the left when turning right.  Um...no wonder this little pony has a rough time balancing himself.  I'm a small person and he's a good-sized pony, but he's small enough that balance is still really important, especially while he's green.  Along the same lines, she reminded me to think of the halt as if my body was split in two: lower half keeping him active and sitting down while allowing his back to come up to my lifted upper body.

I've also been worried lately that my saddle needs reflocked as it was always off to one side.  Guess what?  I'm not only the cause of my horse's problems, I'm also the cause of my saddle's imaginary problems.

So with all of that corrected, constant reminders from my trainer to keep it that way, and an elastic, happy pony underneath me, we turned out the best 20m circles we've had so far.  His ability to take the subtlest of cues continues to amaze me - she had me use the suspension of my post to ask for more suspension at the trot, and with almost an imperceptible moment more of suspension from me, that amazing swinging trot from last week was back.  She was actually giddy about his gaits, now and in the future.

I'm the problem, but I'm also the solution, and things can only go up from here!

Riding videos coming soon.

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