February 3, 2012


My lesson started here: "I forgot the video camera, but I have so much to tell you it wouldn't have mattered anyway,"

And ended here: "Gooooooood, yes, yes, very good."

Like she is so good at doing when a complicated concept flummoxes me, my trainer broke it down.  In this case, the complicated concept is riding my own pony, and her breakdown was to take us back to walking, halting and trotting.  Last night, she had me focus on my seatbones, and minor miracles occurred.

At the walk, she told me that my seatbones needed to be gliding forward and back - not rotating - with his walk, and that I needed to control his walk entirely with my seatbones, just like I'd control the speed of his trot with posting.  That was Big Lightbulb #1.  She had me achieve an energetic, put-together walk that felt slower than we normally go, but was just as animated without "cruising" and losing that energy out the front end - something that isn't possible when trying to hold the walk together with more hand than seat/seatbones.

Big Lightbulb #2 was coming to a complete understanding (through dramatically less movement in my arms, more movement in my lower back, and a concentration on my seatbones communicating to him more than my hands) of having a horse fully between my hands and seat.  When my arms weren't moving with him so much, but my seat was, I felt that energy between my aids and ready for whatever I asked it to do.

Big Lightbulb #3 was re-learning to halt using the seatbones - and NOT my core as Laura had taught me way back in the day.  This was causing Contender to simply plop down whenever he felt me tense to ask for the halt, and he would move his head up and get strung out.  She asked me to imagine, in the final few walk steps, that my seatbones were each going up with each stride, asking him to lift his back to meet me, and then stopping the motion in my back (not my core!) which told him to cease his walking motion.  Suddenly, I had squarer halts and a horse that was as between my aids through/in the halt as he was at that good walk we established.

Big Lightbulb #4 was really understanding what she meant in the first few weeks I owned Contender when she said that I need to eventually be asking him for transitions with my seat instead of my legs.  Being the reactive animal he is, he gets startled when I use my leg on him, which leads to him "popping" into transitions.  She asked me to begin walking with my seatbones ever so slightly to ask for the walk, and to push both seat bones slightly forward at the same time to ask for the trot.  It was amazing how much softer and subtler our transitions became by doing tihs.

Big Lightbulb #5 occurred with our turns on the forehand, when he's normally fussy and confused.  When I kept my seatbones walking, he understood to keep moving.  Turns out that whole time, I have been giving him conflicting signals, and when he understood that I wanted him to keep moving AND turn, he did it with zero fuss.  Not a perfect turn on the forehand, but a happier attempt, and that's all I nwated.

Between those four major changes, my arms being so much better according to my trainer, and some corrections I made on my own when Contender was leaning on me/being an ass, I felt so much more capable of riding my own horse after that lesson.  Which is good, because tomorrow is my Nancy clinic...wish me luck.


  1. Very nice post - I always come away with something to try on Riva after reading about your lessons with your trainer. Looking forward to hearing about the clinic!

  2. Definatly try to get some video's pretty please id love to see what you guys were working on lol (i tend to borrow training tidbits :p)
    Hope your clinic is going well!!

  3. great news! love those lightbulb moments... :-)