Off balance

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back in the saddle again!

Felt good to be back on a horse and to see the girls are doing well after their vacation. My first thought was that Khaleesi had gained 50 pounds, but after a nice ride she looks pretty good!

Tim came over and rode Faygo and Laurie came along on one of her guys Sunday evening and we had a great ride in the woods. I felt a bit of a mess and didn’t ride very intentionally but got basically dragged around by the group and my horse on the first ride back. Not that the group did anything wrong, I just felt like I wasn’t focused and my horse ended up making decisions because I was behind the curve.

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Monday I took Khaleesi back to Pam’s to have another lesson.

We are getting into the territory of “the more you know….” and I feel more discombobulated than ever. But in a good way.

Pam is very patient, and so is my horse. Before we went into the arena she asked me:

What is your biggest challenge with your riding you are concerned about.

I had no quick answer to that… I am not especially concerned about any one thing in particular.

By the end of our time one thing had risen to the top:

Balance.

I am using our “new” saddle which fits her much better and is pretty comfortable for me too. It helps get my feet more underneath my body which is a start. At the walk we are in pretty good shape now! At the trot, however, I still end up with my legs going forward, my feet going through the stirrups, and getting tossed all around the place above her with my legs jumbled around banging into her and my hands not very quiet.

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She suggested I hold onto the saddle with one hand for balance and that really helped me get a better feel for what I’m supposed to be doing. The support also kept me from getting tossed so high up into the air.

Pam: Don’t go up so high when you post, let her toss you up- you aren’t supposed to be pushing yourself up…

Me: Um, ok, I get that, but I don’t feel like I am doing that.

We also talked about 2-pointing and hovering above her trot as something to feel and possibly a tool I might use on a long ride once in a while. It also helped me to work on my balance in a different way- without being tossed around so much.

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I asked Pam at the end of our lesson if she would ride Khaleesi a bit so I can see what it looks like when things are working right. I am glad she agreed- it was really good to watch my horse who is almost as much of a mess as I am.

Pam: She has a lot of questions!

Truly, we are learning together here!

What I learned is that she has “fancy” movements, would probably make a nice dressage horse, and it’s not surprising that I’d be bouncing all around up there. She has a big trot and is a challenge for me to learn to post on that, but also she is learning how to carry herself and doesn’t always settle into a nice rhythm and a good body position yet either.

At a few moments Khaleesi settled into a great trot rhythm with her body moving well and her head set nicely. She even very briefly dropped her head a bit more and raised up her back which Pam said is a very good thing to encourage.

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In some ways this big trot is a challenge I’m concerned about – I need to get better at this, and it’s probably only saddle time that will do it for me. On one hand I wonder “How am I going to survive 30 miles on this big trot… how is she going to survive 30 miles with a bad rider bouncing all around on her!?” and on the other hand I figure “Well, in 30 miles we’ll have a lot of opportunity to improve!”

One thing I do know is that in the arena we are always turning; always looking to where we’re going and only have so long to just ride straight. On the trail one thing that helps me is that we don’t have to deal as much with steering or turning. One less issue to sort out while working on staying balanced. It helps her and it helps me.

Another odd thing that came of this lesson is that she isn’t really listening to my leg. At one point, at the walk, we worked on getting her to cross over her back end. It wasn’t working, so we stopped completely and I gave her pressure with my right leg to step to the right. Nothing. I pressed harder. Then, she stepped LEFT!?

We worked on moving over and eventually we got it right, but there was some short-circuit in our communication there.

When Pam rode her she also tried the stepping over- and once again she moved into instead of away from that leg pressure. So strange. After a little work Pam also got her moving the right way and got some nice cross overs at the walk as well.

We decided to start doing more lateral work to separate her hind end and strengthen it so that she will have a big motor to carry us long distances.

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Today, this big news is she gets shoes. Wish us luck with that!