August 18, 2017

NK Lesson, Part 1: Fixing My Leg Aids

I was very curious what my monthly lesson with NK would look like, after she replied to the short video clip I sent her of my new seat and she said, "That's HUGE improvement!  NOW we can get to work!"

"...what is this "work"...?"

Turns out, it means completely fix my leg yields, further refine my position, change how I see shoulder in and change the way I apply my leg aids.  Holy cow.

Leg aids first.

In our last lesson, she told me if I feel like I have to hang on the inside rein, Connor is "smokescreening" me away from seeing the real problem which is that the inside hind (usually left) is not engaged.

Also, he's so sensitive, he almost trains me not to get after him enough with my aids, because he overreacts to aids.  At the last lesson, he had me pony kick him on the inside when he wasn't listening to my request to move the inside hind, almost as much to get his attention as to get his butt to move.

One issue that arose from doing that on my own in the last month is that he has started shooting out from under me when I use the inside leg even a little.  And still barreling through my outside aids.  This led to that unfortunate ride when I actually got off and did turn on the forehands in hand because I knew I was the problem, but I didn't know what I was doing.

I had the Pixio, but didn't have a tripod due to an unfortunate communication error, so I set the camera on the rail and for the most part only got to see my ride in the funhouse mirror.

NK figured it out.

She pointed out his shooting away from me when I use the inside leg on the left is for two reasons: one, my elbow and hip are not "joined" to each other on the outside (not touching, more of a powerline concept).  Two, and more importantly, I am using my leg wrong which is why he's shooting away from me.  I'm clamping down with my inside thigh when I use my leg, even if I'm not clamping all the time anymore, so he runs (where have we heard this before...)

What I should be doing is using a light leg with a free thigh.  Still a "bump bump", and it can still be aggressive if it needs to be, but it can't also contain a tight thigh.

The marker for this is tension in the back of the knee.  If the back of the knee is soft and free, my thighs are not clamping.  If the back of the knee is tight, I'm clamping.

The blurriest of the blurry screenshots!  But dat tail.

It was a complete change in the way I use my legs.  I always do more than I have to.  I was a runner before I was anything else, and the more we fight and the harder we work, the faster the race ends.  On horses, I tend to "make" things happen with my body - like using an excessive amount of leg and thigh to ask for something.

Turns out, it's much more effective to tap him ever so gently with my leg.  And I got to feel the stride by stride difference between making him and asking him, with making him being totally ineffective and asking him, with NK's guidance, being totally effective.

With that change made, we really were able to get to work.


  1. Love all the progress you're making!

  2. Love this! These equines, and I daresay especially our beloved Welshies, give us so much more when we ask, rather than tell.

  3. Wow, this post was very timely for me! I've been struggling with at least one of these concepts. This gives me something new to think about :)

  4. "What I should be doing is using a light leg with a free thigh. Still a "bump bump", and it can still be aggressive if it needs to be, but it can't also contain a tight thigh." Took me a good while to learn this when I first got Vallu as he'd do the exact same shooting away thing.