August 6, 2018

Lesson Wrap-up: NK Lays it on Me

I had another lesson with NK on Saturday, the first time I've had two lessons so close together.  I felt like I needed it: my last lesson wasn't necessarily incomplete, but it felt like there was an Act II out there that I needed in order to make Act I worth it.

This one was much harder and got way more intense!

Matching game: weirdly on point

Her comment here was that she's "finally seeing your ribcage trot a bit because you let go in your back"

This is no new revelation, but she reiterated that my two core problems are a lack of a half halt and tension in places in my body where it shouldn't be.  She said it takes a lifetime to learn a good half halt, and that every horse needs a slightly different flavor of half halt, and that there's a lot she can do to teach it but in the end, it's something the rider has to feel.

Why yes, that tail is freshly washed and banged (for the first time all summer, not showing makes me lazy)

I videoed this one, which ended up being super helpful.  I went back and watched it as soon as I got home and transcribed every word she said.  I'm on a mission against lesson amnesia.

She called the walk at the very end of this GIF the "best walk I've seen from you guys"

Here are just a few of the things she said over...and over...and over... (I could have made a drinking game out of creating the transcript, as many times as she said most of these things and more):

- Let go in your lower back.  Sit deep.
- Belly button toward your spine
- Knees up, into your thigh rolls, get your leg on him.  Thigh rolls are good and they're bad.
- Don't lose your seat to take the reins, gotta be able to shorten the reins right here in front of you so you don't lose your point of resistance
- Don't give him something solid in front of you to hold onto
- Supple and tuck
- Feel slouchy in your low back
- Elbows deep, walk into them
- Stop arching your back, you're just sticking your chest out, you're not resting your shoulders behind you.
- I hold my legs on a horse that pulls, I bend them and slow my seat down so their hind legs are underneath and active.

Literally not a second goes by without me getting drilled for something or another positionally, so imagine 5 pages of that and you have the transcript of this lesson.
Near the second window in this GIF she said I had a "great half halt".  Unfortunately it must have been a subconscious half halt because I don't really know what I did, but you can see the trot go from slightly strung out to put together

One of the more interesting parts of the lesson happened at the end.  First, in the canter, she had me hold the reins up, as if I was holding a tray across them, and there was a 90 degree bend in my elbows.  "Higher, higher, like you're trying to touch your chin with your hands"

Horse falls apart while I try out some really weird position changes, like ya do.

The arm position felt really weird, so I asked for clarification on this.  I asked, is this for breaking the habit of pulling?  She said yes it was, because my instinct as soon as I pick up the canter is to pull and we have to break that.

As soon as I picked my hands up, my triceps were less involved and we both stopped pulling on each other.  He didn't exactly go great, but he immediately stopped head nodding and putting pressure in the reins.

So don't Ski Erg on my horse's it. Where my CrossFitters at?

But she also said the fact that my torso is in the wrong place affects my forearm angle as well.  A forearm angle that is too "closed" with my upright torso would be just right if my torso was where it should be.

A demonstration:

Tension in the right places (sorry about the funny camera angle, I can assure you it wasn't nearly as dramatic as it looks here)

Tension in the wrong places
I had such a hard time feeling that position that I asked if we could stop and do it in front of the mirror so I could stare at it.  Even standing still in front of the mirror, it felt so weird.  There's no way I could do it on a moving horse right now.

How I learn best: put me in front of a mirror and place my body parts in the right position.  See also: how I learned kipping pullups, muscle up progressions, snatches, the list is endless.  All I want in my next life is proprioception!

This lesson left me with a lot to think about - not least because I can "remember" it in excruciating detail with the transcript and the video.  I'm going to lay off the lessons with her for a little while in order to digest this one - I need to do some playing on my own.

One step at a time


  1. I know you are concentrating on yourself, but the difference in Conner in this lessons is nothing short of remarkable! Proud!

  2. You guys are looking so amazing! Lessons like that are so tough for me but also so interesting and so good. I would also need some time to just play with it and digest.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, there's definitely such a thing as too many lessons, at least for me.

  3. Do you ever ride bareback? I have found it quite helpful for encouraging a soft, upright, following seat. I also really like Sally Swift’s visualizations in Centered Riding.

    1. I do! I haven't recently, but when I was paying for my jump saddle I rode bareback for three straight months. Maybe I should try it again. And I do love Sally Swift, the way she explains things really works for me.

  4. Sometimes I think it would be good to make a recording of our trainers and just play the comments back in an endless loop, with one comment every 5 seconds. Because there's never a bad place/time for "hands down and forward," at least for me!

    You both look amazeballs!

  5. I really want to video my own lessons.