November 16, 2012

Lesson Wrap-up

So, taking lessons.

It's about someone who has "the feel" trying to teach "the feel" to someone without "the feel."  If you have a complete lack of body awareness like I do, your instructor should win a patience award.  Mine has stuck through it with me, and made some massive changes in the way I ride.  One of those moments happened the night of our latest breakthrough, when she said "now, now, now" every time I was supposed to be half-halting.  Last night, when she was trying to get me to relax and go with Connor's motion at the canter, I had another one.

"Your pelvis is tipped forward and your lower back is tense and hollow.  I want you to think about rounding your back."

What she wants me to look like/what she probably feels:

Obviously not Connor.  Or my instructor.
What my lower back normally looks like all the time:

This one is actually me, a few months ago.  That lower back/ab posture is as frowned upon here as it is on a horse.
The mental image that got me from image B to image A and completely changed the way I felt at the canter:

Children of the 80's, represent.
I thought about being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and my back being the shape of a shell and suddenly, both of my calves were making contact with him and I was flowing with him in a way that I have never done on any horse before.  Those of you who have been around for a while know that I've always been pretty tense at the canter even after I got over my fear, and for someone with very little body awareness, the canter feels like all my parts are flying in so many different directions I can't keep track of them.  Just like with the half-halts, it takes a real, physical, direct command to make me fix something.  Last night, it was turtles.

(My husband read this over my shoulder as I was typing this and said, "Oooookay, crazy lady.")

The lesson consisted of more of the same fundamental ideas as the last few, but over cavaletti, and we both had a blast and showed more improvement, especially in the hind end drive at the trot and the suspension we're getting with each stride.  Interestingly, the biggest improvements do come when I fix something with my position rather than when I get a point across to him.

Turtles.  Really.


  1. What a great mental image.. I must try it, canter is my weakest gait, too

  2. Another tip for me - thanks Jen!

  3. Dang girl look at you lift! I've found lifting has helped my riding a ton. I also suffer from the, "I have no idea what my body parts are doing at any given time syndrome" I always try to think of it was relax my back and engage my core.