September 7, 2015

Thighs and Seat

I have written, in the moment, about how my riding has changed over the past five months, but I haven't taken a step back to really think about it until today.

Since April (the month Connor was in partial training), the way I ride has changed quite a bit.  I've learned what it means to ride him with my seat in a way I've never known before.  The whole way I approach the alignment of his body and why he's going badly when he's going badly and how to fix it has changed.

My default reaction to Connor being inverted (read: llama mode) right now (emphasis on 'right now') is:
1) Apply inside upper thigh to saddle to encourage correct bend/upright spinal processes.
2) Apply outside leg back to keep croup from traveling out even further than it probably already is.
3) Ask outside shoulder to step in front of his croup with and outside rein half-halt.
4) Ask jaw to soften with fingers of inside rein.

My default reaction has never been to start with my seat before, as much as I'd like to say that it has been.  But it is now, and it's making a big difference in how quickly I can get him on my aids at the beginning of a ride.  Just thinking "thighs!" on him causes him to lower his head and lift his back.  It surprises me every time it works, but it does.

The CWD is a surprisingly good Dressage saddle with the stirrups almost all the way out.

The other part of that is until Jean Luc told me to put my stirrups on 3 (I always flatted on 7 in the past), I was never physically able to GET my thighs on him.  So chalk that up to another thing I got out of that clinic - my effectiveness with my seat was pretty hampered before that change.

Now that seat is somewhat sort of almost ingrained as a default aid, we're now working on my core.  But that's a story for another post...


  1. My horse responds so well to the thighs too! If I am having a crappy ride, its usually because I forgot to use my thighs.

  2. You have gotten so much more finessed this year, and it's very clear in the way you write about your riding! Love it!

  3. i am excited to see more about your seat and thigh use. i have been having issues having control of my right thigh which has been causing me issues with the ride. sounds crazy but it's just deciding to fall in when i don't think about it!

  4. Using the thigh opens up a whole new world! TC responds super well to it, which was obvious when a friend rode him and said he was really heavy. I couldn't figure it out and then realized that she didn't use her seat/thigh to half halt on her own horse. So he probably just dropped his wither and dove into her hand. The horse has literally never been heavy for me!

  5. I love reading through your theory posts because you describe things in a way that makes sense to me. This is so helpful!

  6. i've only just sorta kinda figured out how to use my thigh - and it really works well for my horse!! (that is, when i remember to do it haha).

  7. Thighs are my saving grace too. It took me WAY too many years to add that to my riding toolbox, but at least it's there now!

  8. This is a life changing concept. So glad you are finding out. If you like "thighs" just wait until you feel what, "thighs, core, lift" feels like. It is a feeling of being able to lift your horses front end up and move it where you please.

    1. I'm so close to that, I can feel it! Can't wait!