August 16, 2021

Lesson Wrap-Up: Left Rein Intervention

Knowing I had a 3 day weekend last weekend with gorgeous weather for hauling, I opted to take an in-person lesson. I think it's well-established that I get a lot out of virtual lessons, but there are some things you just can't do virtually. And I knew I needed a left rein intervention.

Could not be happier with this rig after the addition of the Shocker Hitch

It was a good decision.

The best drinker. First thing he does no matter where we go or how long the trip is.

She asked what I wanted to work on. I said I've been feeling compelled to pull on the left rein, which I know probably means I'm not using enough left leg. Even when he's properly bent to the left, it's like he won't tuck the left wing of his mandible, and I feel the need to pull, and something just wasn't clicking.

Oh, and did I mention I showed up in a bareback pad without warning?

I almost can't bring myself to say this sentence, but I think he's starting to not like the CWD 100% for Dressage. And also, I knew what I wanted to work on and that I could feel that stuff more easily in the bareback pad than in a saddle anyway. And thirdly, there's nothing I can't do in the Brockamp and a pair of silicone full seats, so I knew it wouldn't limit my lesson to be bareback.

Start to finish, this was not a lesson we could've done virtually. First, she put her hands on him to see what was going on physically with the left side. 

She found that he was really stuck at the base of the neck, and did a few minutes of stretching. Not that she's a body worker, but as soon as we walked off, I could feel a difference not unlike after his favorite body worker puts his poll and neck back into place.

But even with his neck feeling better, something still wasn't right. "Can I get on him?" she said. "Please," I said. "This is so great, I don't even have to put boots on, and there are no stirrups to mess with!" (Sharing stirrups for 5'10-ish her and 5'1 me is...challenging). She fell in love with the Brockamp as soon as she sat down, and was thrilled to learn they come in teal.

Pretty quickly she identified that he was ignoring my left leg. She also said that as a result of that, he was constantly ping ponging between the two sides of my body in such a way that made me feel that I had to constantly answer him with rein movement, which led to inconsistent contact, which made the whole situation worse, especially in a straight bar bit like he goes in.

After a couple of intense minutes of reinstalling respect for leg aids and consistent contact, she got a way better left SI out of him than I ever have.

Not 5 minutes later, I got back on and had a completely different horse.

Worth the price of admission and $50 in gas

I still had a few things to polish. She pointed out part of my perennial left SI problem was that I was blocking him with the outside rein. I needed a more elastic, forward feel in the outside elbow in both directions, without giving the rein away. I also need to think collarbone forward pretty much all the time right now. Mary Wanless, I miss you.

But for the most part, I had thought this left SI problem was related to where I was sitting in the saddle, but that wasn't the case. It had a lot more to do with the horse not moving his ribcage over when I put my left leg on.

We only touched the canter a bit, which was fine with me because after she had him for two weeks last month, there is nothing I can do to screw his canter up. I may not improve it, but I can't make it worse. Unlike the walk and trot which I am perfectly capable of making worse.

My barnmate of 6 years stopped in her tracks and said "Wow, that's so uphill and nice!" when she saw his canter last week.

We did some SI in the canter, and she had me give forward to scratch his neck with the inside rein every so often to make sure I wasn't holding with that left rein.

Cooling out on the track. I wasn't kidding when I told her there's nothing I won't do in a pair of silicone full seats and the Brockamp.

All in all, it was a great lesson and a fantastic reminder that the 4 hour round trip over there IS still worth it, even with virtual lessons.


  1. Off to look up Brockamp. What will you be inspiring me to spend money on next???

  2. I love reading your breakdowns of these lessons. Just last week my trainer got on and (re?) installed a quick, active response of his right hind leg when she used leg. It was amazing after how I didn't feel the need to pull on the right rein any more. Now to not ruin that when I get to start riding him again...

  3. Here again after googling Brockamp pads. Am I understanding correctly that you are supposed to use them with a treeless saddle pad? If so, which one do you use? And doesn't a saddle pad negate the anti-slip feature of the neoprene underside?

  4. Interesting- I love reading about your lessons. So much I can apply to myself.

  5. You're making me want one of the Brockamp pads even more than I already wanted one.

  6. You two are looking fantastic! Brockckamps are the best :D

  7. Lancey says that Connor has totally the right idea - ignore the rider's leg so that she'll pull on the reins. Gets 'em every time, until the mean old coach figures it out! In seriousness, Connor's canter is looking a m a z i n g!!!

  8. I love that you did an actual lesson in the Brockamp. I think I could on Shiny, but even with that pad, Eros' withers are... apparent.
    Sounds like a great lesson! I really like how easy it is for your trainer to see (or feel) what's going on and offer you a fix that works for you.