Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Straightness

I've been slacking on posting here, but I have been riding.

And I had another epiphany last week....

Spider often has difficulty getting into the outside rein when tracking left, which then causes all kinds of problems with steering and lateral work. The fix for this is to use more inside leg pressure to drive the horse into the outside rein, but for some reason this doesn't always work for Spider. It's pretty much been the bane of my existence as a rider. I mean, I've had Spider for three years and I still haven't managed to fix this. Fail!

But I digress, back to my epiphany. As I was riding an incredibly crappy 20 meter circle left I was becoming more and more frustrated with myself and my horse. He was falling in onto his left shoulder, my outside rein was flapping in the breeze and my circle was becoming an egg. Ordinarily when this happens, I stop what I'm doing and do a few turns on the haunches, then return to the exercise. But this time I was determined to get this straightened out properly. After all, I can't stop and do a turn on the haunches every single time I lose the connection. I'd never get anything done.

So we continued around as I applied my left leg to get him to take the contact (inside leg to outside rein and all that). I put my leg on harder and harder, no result. I tapped him with my leg to wake him up, no result. I used my spur, he went sideways (at least it was a result!) But he was still in and out of the contact. Eventually I did what I always do when I get frustrated and can't figure something out: I stopped what I was doing to re-evaluate the situation.

I, of course, was doing everything right. He just wasn't listening to what I was telling him. Or was he? When I'm having trouble I like to go back to the basics: my position. I ran through all the beginner exercises to put myself back in the proper dressage posture and started again. I put my left leg on and he went sideways....again. And that's when I noticed something very interesting: Every time I put my left leg on, my right seat bone comes completely out of the saddle. All this time I've been trying to get him into the right rein, but I've been leaving a door wide open to allow him to escape the contact! So I tried again, being sure not to let my right seat bone come out of the saddle. Wonder of wonders, it worked! His inside leg came up and my right seat bone was there to catch the movement and squeeze it up through his back and right into the outside rein.

Now why did it take three years to figure that out?

4 comments:

  1. It takes so long because too often we don't stop to evaluate how we are sitting in the saddle.

    You have made a great discovery here, and found a simple fix for a long standing problem with some clear thinking. And, you looked at yourself instead of Spider as the source of the problem.

    Patrice Edwards, a British trainer is super about tuning you in to how your seat affects your horse. She does clinics here in NJ, South Jersey area, usually. I will let you know if I hear of her coming again. Seems to me there was a clinic around now, but I can't find the email. I will ask my friend who may know.

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  2. Thanks Jean, I've found over the years that training problems are almost always rider error. Horses are what we make of them, good or bad!

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  3. I like how your reaction is to think carefully about what you are doing - so many people would just blame the horse. Smart of you to figure it out - it's nice how our horses reward us when we get it!

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  4. Well done!!!!!! Doesn't it feel good when you figure something out and you can fix it!!!!!!!

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