May 21, 2019

Working on the Mary Stuff

Yep, I know I still owe you all some more clinic recaps.  Honestly, I'm waiting to write them until I review the videos during my next couch lesson.  Since the clinic, I've substituted lessons on the horse for lessons on my couch (with wine because duh) where my trainer and I go back and watch my clinic videos together. 

Enjoy some pictures of Connor, who is ridiculously gorgeous right now

The couch lessons ensure:
  1. I won't totally butcher Mary's theories when I recite what I learned back to my trainer
  2. She gets to actually see what Mary did with me
  3. It gives me more time to play with Mary's concepts on my own and hopefully solidify them before riding in a lesson setting
 And I think it's safe to say we are both enjoying the couch and wine time!

In the meantime, I've been riding on my own.  The things I am mainly focusing on (some of which I've written about and some of which I haven't and you'll have to wait for an explanation on) are:

  1. High internal pressure
  2. 80% of my weight in my thighs, 20% in the feet/bring knees closer to chest
  3. Lean into Mary's hand forward/accurate vertical balance
  4. Holding the reins the way she showed me (she totally changed the way I hold the reins!)
  5. Keeping my seatbones paddling like a duck (yes I will explain this later)

Almost at the very beginning, Mary's first book talks about identifying which new positional cue you're most likely to cheat on, and focusing on that one.  For me, that's internal pressure.  I forget about it constantly, but when I remember to do it, a number of other things naturally fall into place, such as accurate vertical balance (it's very noticeable when I am not upright when I have high internal pressure) and not pulling anymore (I can feel my high internal pressure holding the resistance that my arms otherwise would be). 

(I don't feel like it's totally accurate to use high internal pressure the way I am here, most people would say "core", because there ARE active muscles down there and it's not just the pressure, but that's what's working for me so I'm rolling with it)

The other thing I've done is stop riding in my Dressage saddle.  I can't ride in that and work on what I learned from Mary, as scary as it is to ride in a setup she hasn't seen (my jump saddle).  My jump saddle isn't ideal, but it gives me a lot more freedom to play and adjust and make mistakes than my Dressage saddle does. 

Plus I may or may not have a test ride scheduled for a Dressage saddle built on the same tree as my jump saddle so...😁  (Yes, that is the sound of money being sucked out of my bank account, pray I luck into another CWD unicorn like I did with my jump saddle or this is going to get expensive fast).

If you know of any children or small adults in need of a Dressage saddle, send them my way!


  1. Those couch lessons sound really fun actually lol

    1. They are a blast. I was like "I have an idea and it involves you getting paid to drink wine..." Haha. We're having another one tonight and my husband is making tacos for it.

  2. Saddles are currently torturing my bank roll too...
    Sounds like you're working hard! Curious to know what your trainer thinks of what you learned with Mary.

    1. Ugh, I thought I was done with saddle shopping too. So sad. She's really on board with it, which makes me so happy! The theories behind it are right in line with the way she's always taught, so it's not a huge departure in theory even if the methods are different.

  3. The internal pressure vs generic 'core' description is so good. You're not just squeezing your core muscles, which could result in tight butt muscles and inflexibility (had a long chat about engaging the core with another boarder after we got back). The pull inward is what everyone does, and inadvertently tightens things that shouldn't be tight. The push back out is just as important, which gets lost when you think 'use your core!' Internal pressure makes me think about pushing out too, so that's a great descriptor for me!

    I spent some time going over internal pressure this week... Madonna has been getting progressively more angry every time I ride... turns out it's easier for me to apply inner upper thigh than raise my internal pressure. I had to work on separating the two.

    1. Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head with this, especially for me. Before Mary, my default reaction to "use your core" was "squeeze your glutes". I've been riding in belts lately too because I can so easily feel the push out against the belt - I told my trainer "I'm not trying to be fancy or anything" because I've never ridden full time in fancy breeches before lol.

      Say hello to the angry tuxedo cow for me, she's such a good girl <3