Sunday, October 9, 2011

Riding Lesson 10/9

Much of my time in 2011 has been devoted to riding my horse. It's always been my intent to keep track of our progress and what we're working on. So, ten months into the year, I'm finally going to start doing that. I figure my little corner of the internet is as good a place to do that as any. For folks interested in horses, maybe you'll enjoy, for others I will try to include pretty pictures. :) In fact, my boarding facility just had an Equestrian Photo Day so today's pics are very recent. For the horse folks, yes, all I can see are the errors in my form and how my horse is clearly not warmed up properly or accepting any kind of contact. *sigh* Always something to work on...

Lesson goals:
keep Bailey's shoulders up, no falling in
keep inside rein support without jamming Bailey on the outside
lengthen my leg

Reason for goals:
during the week shoulder falling in when tracking left
not taking left lead even when bent around left leg and moving diagonally to the right
contact not coming from Bailey lifting the base of his neck and moving onto the bit
my leg is still too short, pulling heels up and losing deep seat

Loose figure 8 with poles in part of the circles (see below)
--addresses first three reasons
Walk/trot transitions in "semi" half-seat, cue by squeezing calves together; after leg feels stretched down, sit (walk and trot) for transitions; if leg remains extended, sitting trot/canter transitions, cue coming from the calf
--addresses leg lengthening 

Fanfuckingtastic! Bailey was falling in due to rein length. I ask for more reach from his hind legs but tend to give the reins at the same time. With no contact/support he happily falls on the forehand/speeds up/drops shoulder. Incorporating poles encourages him to pick his feet up, doing this on a circle keeps contact focused on one rein at a time so he doesn't feel trapped/jammed or that I'm giving him a "fifth leg" to lean on. Initially, he was falling in because my inside contact was not there. Later would attempt to fall in in order to avoid extra effort (always efficient are horses:), cue the inside shoulder (and lift my shoulder, keep sternum open) gets him back up. I'm still collapsing over the left side. :( This is not as noticeable at the trot but when I moved up to canter it became glaringly obvious. Tracking left at canter was quite successful. The simple change to track right was less successful. Need to pay attention to shifting weight over correct seat bone. Got progressively worse tracking right. Went back to trot and dropped stirrups. Went through pattern twice to establish balance and contact then picked up canter (still no stirrups). Became much more obvious that I was not shifting my weight between seat bones at this point. Got self sorted and we went through the pattern very well. When contact and balance were maintained properly Bailey was rocked well back on his hind end with fantastic, relaxed contact (base of neck lifted, neck had great fluidity). At trot, felt excellent lift of his legs but his back remained quiet (yay). At canter, very uphill, into the contact with what feels like a climbing bounce (double yay!)

Switched to second exercise (tracked left along rail) which was great for proper positioning of my leg. Felt weight naturally sitting in my heels with great stirrup contact at the balls of my feet (in fact, my feet never moved forward or backward in the stirrups - amazing!). Bailey responded very well to the calf cues and the trot/canter transitions were excellent. Concentrating on my calf kept me from pointing my toes and from moving my heel too far back to cue for canter.


  1. Wow. You've open a new world to me, Rachel. The complexity and skill for this sport is something I'd never have imagined. Keep up the updates. Very cool.

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Michael! What I find constantly amazing about horse riding is that I spend 30min preparing so that I can have 5min of "pretty." I suppose that is similar to many sports. Also, riding is like science: the more you learn the more you learn how much you don't know. :)

    I mentioned to my neighbor once that I was headed out for a riding lesson. (He had recently come with me on a visit to see my horse for research.) He looked very surprised and said, "I thought you already knew how to ride." I laughed and said, "You're always working on your art, I thought you already knew how to draw." After that we were laughing together as we realized how straightforward things can look from the outside but how complex (to use your very good word) they are on the inside.