Monday, December 6, 2010

Things to consider

Great ride on Sunday. I got out to the barn around noon. It was sunny but windy when I left home. East wind. COLD wind. At the barn I was far enough from the gorge that there was no east wind, so it was warmer. I was amazed to see that I was the only one there! I had thought for sure the place would be crawling with people taking advantage of the good weather.

It didn't bother me at all to be the only one there. While most times I love the camaraderie at the barn it is also nice to have the quiet to concentrate on what Boo and I need to work on. Boo was perfectly willing to come to me in the pasture (he knows I always have treats). There hadn't been any rain in a few days so mud was at a minimum. Boo's lightweight rain sheet was enough to keep him relatively clean. I am so glad I got one with a neck cover because it helps to keep his mane clean too.

It didn't take long to clean him up and tack him up. I have to admit I wasn't wasting any time either, as I was sure I wouldn't be alone for long. We started out with our requisite 10 minute walk, quickly put him in front of my leg, and started suppling shortly thereafter. I'm not going to tell you he went right into it, but I did discover that riding the suppling like I had baby birds in my hands (from Sally Swift's "Centered Riding") worked better for me than what I had been doing. Before, I would squeeze the inside rein 3 times and then close my hand on the outside rein and then relax to see if he gave to the bit. If he didn't I did it again. The longer I had to do it the stronger my hands got. Not on Sunday. I just concentrated on asking but keeping my hands soft. He gave to me sooner than he had been and for more strides. "Okay," I thought, "there's one hurdle accomplished."

One of the things Bernadine told me at my last clinic was to sit back on my pockets more. In schooling sessions since then the DH has told me the same thing. He watched my clinic and he is trying to help me. Sometimes I like that and sometimes I don't. Sunday, without him there, I consciously tried to remember to sit back on my pockets more. I found that if I teetered forward at all Boo would try to slow down and even come to a stop. His head would also come up of course. If I stayed back on my pockets no problem!

Finally, I was reading blogs earlier in the week and Annette over at had discussed how she had trouble keeping her thighs rolled in. She knew this because when her thighs weren't rolled in her boot zipper would slide down due to the back of her calves rubbing on her horse. I got to thinking that I don't even consider whether or not my thighs are rolled in. I guess I figured if they were I'd just be using them to hold on during the canter. Instead, when I tried it I found my contact was better, my legs stayed quieter, and my foot was forward instead of turned out. So, now I have another thing to think about ;)

I have a lesson with Trainer Tracey tomorrow. I know I'll have a LOT more to consider by tomorrow night!


  1. I'm glad my boot zipper frustration helped you! I've heard that men have it easier; something about the way their hips are put together makes their thigh naturally roll inward more. Women, not so lucky. I find it difficult to do but it truly does make a difference. Bareback riding can help you find it too if you let your leg hand naturally without gripping (yeah, right).

  2. Interesting post. I'm inclined to 'sit back on my pockets' but I must do it too much, because my teacher tells me to do forward more. My feel tells me my horse goes batter when I'm back a bit. I know I shouldn't over-do it, but I was interested to read your observations about your horse slowing and even stopping if you got forward.
    So nice that he is giving to the bit with a soft aid. I'm working on that too.

  3. Annette: I've heard the same thing about the men. I'll have to try the bareback thing and see what I thing. I don't usually go there because when I fall off I break, but I could cool him out bareback I suppose. He'd be happy to just saunter around and less apt to spook if anything unusual happened.

    Carol: I think when I lean forward it throws him onto his forehand and messes with his balance hence he slows down or stops. I need a stronger core so I'm in better control of my body. I'm working on that too but it's not nearly as much fun as riding.

  4. First, I love the picture!!! I have a tendency to lean forward. Sitting on my pockets has been a challenge for me. I have found that I am better at it now that my heels are down consistently and the balls of my feet have better contact with the stirrup. Congratulations on holding the baby birds. :-)

  5. After I do my "jockey stretch" exercise I physically roll my thigh inward before taking up the stirrups. Works better when I wear my schooling chaps.

    Hadn't thought of the pockets image. A clinician I worked with had us envision the pelvic circle as a bowl to be tipped ever so slightly backward to give the horse room to round it's back.

    That's the fun of lessons and clinics -- each trainer has a different way of expressing things. So much fun when the light bulb goes off!