October 28, 2019

MW Fall 2019 Clinic Recap - Day 1

I'm so glad I did the second Mary clinic this year.  In May, my first time riding with her, I got two private lessons because the clinic didn't fill, and it was absolutely an overwhelming amount of feedback.  If the second clinic had been like that, it would have been hard.  But it wasn't like that at all, and it wasn't just because I was in the more normal semi-private rides this time.

This time, she gave me a LOT of compliments for my improvement since May.  If you remember in May, she was almost apologetic, was somewhat reluctant to get after me as much as I needed it, and wished it wasn't my first exposure to her methods.  I get the feeling she's taken some heat in the past from riders who were angry and embarrassed the first time they rode with her, which is a shame.

If you know me IRL, you know my torso is much less box shaped than it looks right here, which is a great thing because it means my bear down is strong.  Yes I'm crooked, but I've figured out something big in relation to that since then, and that's a post for another day.

This time around, she had piles of compliments for me - about how much more organized we were, how much better I was at controlling the tempo, how "overall you've done a great job", how I was using my suction cup seat even though she hadn't covered that with me yet, and more.  She also called me and CGP the only two high tone riders in the clinic and said everyone else needed more tone.  That's not always a good thing depending on which type of horse you're riding, but I'll take it anyway.

The walk we got immediately after she asked me to slow the tempo of the walk with my seat

I don't live for external validation, but man, I couldn't have been happier if she had given me an actual ribbon.  These past couple of years have been such a struggle biomechanically, I'm going to keep that "well done, you" in my head for a long time to come.

Some of my main problems now are:
- My right foot moves a lot when I post (but my left one doesn't)
- When I go to put weight in my thighs, I put it into my knee more than anywhere
- When I go to put weight in my thighs, I tighten my glutes because I have a hard time separating those muscles

Mary with her hand under my butt trying to help me find my seatbones.  If you aren't comfortable being touched more or less literally anywhere, this isn't the clinic for you.  She has no chill about it, in the best possible way.

- Posting too hard and too fast (which means I've overcorrected from where I was in May, so that's not a bad thing but it does need to be fixed now)

Mary describing how I was posting, and what the chewing gum image should do to fix it (see next section)
- Not keeping my back "edge" on the saddle in the canter

Describing back edge in the canter (before I've even cantered for her, she gave me a bunch of positional cues just based on how I rode at walk and trot)

Some of the cues she used to fix the above on the first day are:
- Lengthened my stirrups three (half) holes.  Remember this is the first time I've ridden for her in this saddle.
- At posting trot: making sure my knee points down and my thigh rotates over my knee, to avoid making the rise by pushing into my heel
- The criss cross laces I mentioned in my previous post
- Hooking two fingers under one side of my gullet and using them to snug the opposite thigh into the saddle properly
- Thinking about my knees being connected to a steel bar going between them that prevents them from pinching
- Thinking whether I can feel my seatbones on the saddle or not
- Thinking about posting with wads of chewing gum on the saddle that make strings to slow my rise and draw his back up slightly with me.  But this does NOT mean I should do an "incomplete windshield wiper" and not make it all the way up like I used to.  Same rise, slower.

Also - we have graduated to cantering with Mary!  If you remember, we only walked and trotted in May.  On this first day we didn't mess with it much, beyond talking about needing to get my back edge down.  She said my bear down is stronger in canter than trot. 

I'm annoyed with how much less my hands move in canter than walk and trot after reviewing the video - hence the head nod.


  1. I really want to try a clinic with her, especially now that I'm working out more and have read her books.

    The canter in the last gif is so lovely. I'm actually not looking at you at all, just how lovely Connor is.

    1. Thank you! And you really really REALLY should. You'd love it.

  2. Damn girl you are GLUED to his back in the canter! Wish I could canter like that!

  3. Ugh this is just like #goals. The improvement is so clear. Have you read her books? I am debating picking one up, but I am not sure where to start...

    1. I have, and they're just like listening to her teach. I'd recommend starting with Ride With Your Mind Essentials, it's very well-organized to give someone the ability to learn this stuff on their own without necessarily having a trainer. Her newer book about rider biomechanics is also very good, but slightly less newcomer friendly IMO. Better to read it after RWYME.

  4. It sounds like a great experience.

  5. I would just be replaying that Mary praise on repeat until the day I died if I were you, and then maybe have someone play it at your funeral as well lol

  6. Boy-o that last canter gif is gorgeous! I'm so psyched for you that you got so much praise. Good job with all of your hard work these past few months!