December 13, 2012

"Think Forward"

Whew, I am so behind on blogging.  I promise I'll catch up over the next couple of days, but for now, I need to get down tonight's lesson.

"I actually got on him this afternoon and he was really good.  I didn't wear him out, but it was a very technical ride," my trainer said as I was mounting.  By the middle of the lesson, I was practically begging her to do that every week.  She had gotten on and schooled the haunches-in/shoulder-in exercise we started last week, and also her soft hands and precise timing really tuned him up for my lesson.  Suddenly, now that my horse had slightly more of an idea of what the haunches-in was supposed to feel like than I did, I realized that haunches-in is just the opposite of shoulder-in, and doesn't involve contorting the horse into a weird shape like I thought last week.  We nailed it, and my timing felt really good.

Connor and I yesterday, as he tried on Guinness's cooler that Austen shrank in the wash.

After that, the rest of the lesson was spent discussing the fact that I am a very backwards-thinking rider.  As a result of over-correcting some bad habits I brought with me from hunterland, I now have a tendency to hollow my lower back, lean back with my shoulders especially in downward transitions, brace, raise my hands and let my reins get long.  This allows Connor to pull against me, get behind the bit and break at the third vertebrae.  Not good.

(Whew.  Nothing like laying all your massively bad habits out there for all the world to see.)

She got after me about getting him between my leg and hand with a lot of outside half-halts that come from the elbow/triceps and not the wrist, which breaks the connection.  I was to think forward with my body, forward with my reins, and keep my hands much further forward than I have been, and close to his neck.

It was fascinating, the effect that all had.  He was lighter than he's been in a couple of weeks, he was sharp, engaged, on my aids, and between my leg and hand in a way I haven't often felt.  It was most obvious on the 20m circle to the left, because he usually goes like a motorcycle on that exercise, but he was completely balanced and straight between my reins as long as I kept up my "outside rein-inside leg-release inside rein" rhythm she had me doing.  Finally, we got one canter transition so crisp and contained that she told me to quit right then and there, which is normally not her style.  It felt awesome, and the spectators in the ring confirmed it.

Now I need to remember how all that felt and permanently internalize all those changes.  Easier said than done...


  1. Nothing like letting it all hang out online. ;) What a great ride! :)

  2. I am the worst at timing, so bravo to you for figuring it out.
    I have four of those coolers in different colors. In fact I think Rosemary has that one in the picture :)

  3. love the picture so very cute! Well done on a great lesson :D

  4. Thanks, everyone! Austen, I have since written that post with all the pictures of you, I figured that was a better answer.

  5. Great to have awesome friends!

    Love riding after a trainer ride and feeling how Riva is supposed to go.

  6. I love rides after a trainer ride- they are the best!