February 1, 2014

Thursday Lesson Wrap-up: Don't Fall Into the Hole

I love winter feathers!
I have started looking for a cheap/used video camera that I can set on the rail during my rides, because I can't envision what I'm feeling right now.  I don't feel like I truly know what's going on down there!  I'm sure Connor's breeder is [not!] tired of getting text messages that say something like "Today's lesson was better than the last, he felt incredible!" but then me not being able to follow that up with WHAT felt so awesome.

Thursday's lesson:  He started off flat and dull to my aids.  I thought it was because I couldn't get shoulder control, but my trainer told me it was because the inside hind was not engaged.  We did the square exercise and she told me to try to feel like I was making his body shorter as we went around each corner corner, inside leg to outside rein.   That was followed by leg yielding down the centerline toward the rail until I felt his weight shift, his inside hind engage and his shoulders unlock, and then immediately asking for shoulder in.

After those two exercises, he was jaw-droppingly on my aids for the rest of the lesson.  When we get him like that, the softest movement, intentional or unintentional garners a response of some sort from him (when I said that, my trainer grinned and said, "That's what being 'on your aids' MEANS!") so I'm having to learn to ride with a level of tact I've never known or needed before.

We also spent some time on the 20m circle asking for shoulder-in, but she said because he is not yet totally confirmed in it or strong enough to hold it for extended periods of time, we had to keep throwing in "a step of leg yield" to keep him engaged and together in the same way that we did on the centerline earlier.  I struggled with the "step of leg yield" at first until I realized it was more or less just that exercise from December where she had me identify when his weight was on the inside shoulder and push him from my inside leg into the outside rein.

Finally, the most valuable part of last night's lesson was working on turns on the forehand.  Connor's movement really rocks me from side to side and I will go right along with him, so she told me "There's no reason for your torso to ever go from side-to-side while riding - front and back only!" and "Don't just go along with him if he puts you 'in the hole' (where his back falls away from my seat bone on one side, and I go along with it and sit crookedly)"  When I sat "solidly" in my core, the turns on the forehand were outstanding, AND she helped me identify that I often "fall into the hole" at other times.  Calling out "don't fall into the hole!" while we did the shoulders in on the circle at the trot helped balance both of us.

Body clipping today (last one!), and team practice #2 tomorrow!


  1. Always interesting to read your lesson writeups!

  2. So much body clipping! That lesson sounds lovely. I can't wait to get back in the saddle.

  3. Ha, I was just looking at Rosemary's feathers thinking the same thing. I wish she kept them all year.

  4. Just today I took a photo of Emi's feather! She has a lot!! :) Video cameras are so nice to have, and it's definitely helpeful to get that feedback.

  5. You're right; I will never grow weary of hearing how wonderful your lessons are.