June 6, 2018

Soul Searching

One of the things CJF said to me was, basically, you're pulling a lot less but you're still pulling.  And because of both of your combined conformation, you're both pulling and you're bracing against him especially into things like transitions.

So like...it's not like I haven't heard that before.  But given that I've felt especially stuck for a long while now (THANKS SECOND LEVEL), I did some soul searching and deep thinking.

I AM pulling less.  A lot less.  There's a lot less weight in the reins now than a year ago and a year before that.  If you look at me riding, it doesn't look like I'm pulling back, because it's pretty subtle, but it's still there.  Just because I'm pulling less doesn't mean I'm still not pulling.

My torso position also continues to not help that.  I can sit upright, but I still struggle to push my breastbone forward, which leads to flagging backwards especially during downward transitions, and that plus pulling = bracing against him.  That's not helping my horse engage his hind end and elevate his front end.

Me and my sucked back torso, September 2017.  PC: Paul Wood Photography

For my first ride on my own after the CJF lesson, I focused on nothing but my position and transitions.  On the rail.  No lateral work.  Don't care where his head is or what he looks like.  It was practically a self-lunge lesson.

It took a long time, maybe 20 minutes, but then I finally felt him raise his back under me into an upward transition.  And then keep it there in a downward.  And then again.  And even though he started seeking the bit, he did not lean on me and I did not pull on him.  It was just a nice, even, elastic contact.

When I felt that, I finally realized that although EVERYONE has been telling me to do a lot of transitions with him right now, but all the transitions in the world won't help if he's not also responsible for carrying his own head. 

This is literally going backwards to go forwards, but I'm still enjoying the process.


  1. these habits are so hard to fix! I find it easy to get into pulling. I had an instructor who drew a line from my left shoulder to right heel and then the other side. Where the lines crossed was where I supposed to use for strength rather then my arms/shoulders. It has helped me a lot. not sure if it would be helpful for you.

  2. Not pulling is super, super hard. SO HARD. And it's even easier to do with these cute pulling breeds. But yeah, you gotta let go and rely on your seat and core instead. (This is from my logical side. My lizard brain still pulls for like 99/100ths of my ride, or unless someone is actively yelling at me to PUT MY HANDS FORWARD. Le sigh).

  3. I'm in a very similar place with Bridget and my own riding. I'm actually finding it very helpful to ride a more advanced horse who knows her job and immediately tells on me every time I get tight or holding - which is pretty much in every transition, lol

  4. great post. I don't even realize i am pulling at certain times then wonder...wait why do i ache all over....OH! LOL :) Great job being active on not pulling. I should try that when/ifever I get to ride again LOL! :)