Monday, October 7, 2013


My daughter started Kindergarten a couple weeks ago, which has made our life a little hectic, but in a good way.  She's very excited to be going to school and meeting new friends.  Every day she brings home a folder full of her daily projects so that we can see she what she's doing and supplement it at home.  At first I was a bit concerned, because the material they were covering seemed pretty basic. They're covering the alphabet and numbers, things my daughter already knows.  I was worried she might get bored and start acting up or zone out.  But, she attacks all her projects with all the enthusiasm of a Thoroughbred.  I suppose she's learned from the best.

Spider and I have gone back to Kindergarten, too.  I've been having issues with some of the "tricks", the half passes and flying changes.  Working on them wasn't helping, nor was practicing suppling exercises like shoulder-in and haunches in.  Spider was in and out of the contact and I was getting frustrated.  It was time to go back to basics.

The real Training Scale, courtesy of Hillbilly Farms.

I took Spider onto a 20m circle and really concentrated on what I was doing and feeling.  And I noticed  that, no matter which direction the rest of my body is pointing, my pelvis is always pointing left.  It's subtle, I bet it can't even be seen from the ground.  Actually, I know it can't be seen from the ground, because I've seen pictures of myself riding and didn't notice it.  I'm my own worst critic, so if it was obvious, I would have noticed.  It also explains why Spider does better at half pass left and right lead to left lead changes, I'm always subconsciously cuing for them.

For several rides I just took up a 20m circle and concentrated on pointing my pelvis in the correct direction.  We did transitions between and within gaits and shoulder and haunches-in on the circle, but all I focused on was pointing my pelvis in the right direction and keeping it there.  The difference was amazing.  No more coming in and out of the contact, he was steady.  After several rides of just concentrating on training me, we tried the half passes and changes again. Suddenly, Spider understood what I wanted.  He wasn't trying to sort out my conflicting cues and we were back in business.

Our next show is November 3rd, and this will be the last time we show 3rd level, because we're going to nail it.  Maybe...


  1. woohoo!!! i'm struggling with nearly the same thing... except my left elbow chicken wings out sub-consciously when things get hard, my lower back tightens to the point of being a concrete wall, and my right thigh is constantly trying to be one with my horse. not to mention the increasing level of anxiety i feel because i can hardly allow her to correctly pick up the right lead... let alone lead changes... its scaring. the. shit. out of me. x.x

  2. You are going to nail it!! For sure.

    It's easy to fall into habits when you ride by yourself with no one to watch. But, I think when you catch yourself making a mistake, somehow it dedicates you to fixing it even more than if an outside observer caught you. Kind of a personal integrity thing, I guess.

  3. My left elbow does the entire "Chicken Dance" if I don't pay attention to keeping it where it belongs, so I feel your pain there! As far as anxiety goes, I have found that we are harder on ourselves than our horses are. Horses are very forgiving. They seem to know when you're doing your best and trying to figure it out!

  4. I've found those little positional adjustments can really work magic - I tend to have a twist to the left, making left rein work easier and blocking free movement to the right. I've been working on it, and the more attention I pay, the better my horses go - funny how that works!

  5. I've been doing a similar thing on my greenies, being very concious of correct position on my part even when they are being monkies. Love the 'training scale'!

  6. As Jean said, that's the flip side of riding on your own. It requires way more concentration (not my strong suit) to monitor yourself consistently, but success is sweet!

    We had the best ride in years yesterday... so much more effective as a rider when my position is correct. When I ride well, he goes well.

    The "training scale" cracked me up - will be sharing :D

  7. Left half pass and the right to left change are also easier for us. I will have to keep your discovery in mind for the future.


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