September 18, 2012

Adjusting to the New Routine

I’m going to make this brief since I only have a few minutes left before leaving work for the barn.  I had a lesson on Saturday in which my trainer made sure I was doing the lunging properly.  There really is a lot to it when you’re using it as a teaching/training tool and not just for non-riding exercise or to let the horse blow off some steam.  She made sure I was holding the “rein” properly and complimented the timing of what essentially amounted to half-halts.  After that, I felt much more prepared to tackle it on my own and start working with him more often.

Flaxen mane and forelock = awesome grass stains.  This one went all the way down his mane, starting from here.
At the end of the lesson, she had me get on him for a few minutes of “slow work” at the walk and trot.  She studied my position closely, and pointed out that my right hip was always positioned back.  I was not aware of it, but was also not surprised, since that is the much more dominant side of my body after the accident.  She had me bring it forward into alignment with my left hip, which felt out of alignment to me, but I worked hard at keeping it forward.  I’m going to have to re-train my body to use both sides equally just as I am retraining Connor’s body, only I have barbells instead of side reins with which to do it.  (And to further prove the parallel between riding and Crossfit, in every barbell lift I have a tendency to have my right foot more underneath or slightly behind me as I catch and the weight comes down, and my left shoulder more forward, inactive and out from under the weight.  Go figure!)

He felt much better, and I left the lesson feeling like we’re both headed on the right track.  I am riding him in a hyper-aware state right now, constantly analyzing the feel of the contact in both arms and the position of my body in the saddle.  It feels like “riding on eggshells,” but it also feels like improvement.

She’s asked me to bump up my barn days to four days a week, which I knew I had to do and don’t mind, during which I will be lunging for most of each ride and doing some more slow work under saddle during the last ten minutes, mostly to work on a bit of the new feel, but also I think to keep me content.  It felt so strange to swing a leg over my pony for the first time in two weeks on Saturday, and that strange feeling made me realize how much I’ve missed it.  Ground work is fun and necessary, but not enough!

Tonight I try the Stackhouse on him – looks like it will be too narrow so I am quite nervous.  Wish me luck!


  1. If you ever see a copy of Centered Riding by Sally Swift read it. It helps with body position and gives good mental pictures. Mom was fortunate enough to have two lessons with her before she passed. Sally really reminds people to look at how they operate outside of the barn, like your Crossfit or how you sit at your desk or in your car. If you can be aware of making your position equal during those times it helps while in the saddle.
    I agree that ground work is fun, but sometimes you just need to be in the saddle.
    I will keep my fingers crossed about the Stackhouse.

  2. In all that free time and with all that spare money we equestrians have, you might check out pilates. It's helped me a lot with recognizing and correcting body imbalances. Another excellent riding tool: having a barn buddy who is a physical therapist. While not available to everyone, these folks are VERY perceptive and useful.

    Good luck with the saddle! I hope it fits. :)