Everything is a little better
January 21, 2012 3 Comments
Today’s ride was really solid, on a number of different levels. I did a make up lesson with Christy, after temperatures near zero put a stop to lessons on Thursday, and we picked up where we left off – building my strength in my new position and starting to apply the aids.
Derby felt great today, but it took some coaching from Christy to get me to ride him more back to front, with a better connection. I started the day by going in a nose-poking-out stretchy frame that looked like a baby green hunter. To establish a better connection, I need to first and foremost get Derby’s back end activated and engaged. Getting him through and working from behind is a real weakness of mine, and it’s something I must fix.
The good news is that my lower leg was steady throughout the ride. I feel like I can crack coconuts with my new-found inner thigh strength! Okay,I exaggerate, but in just a week I’ve gained a lot of strength in this area, which is a big help.
So back to the issue du jour, working from behind. Christy had us do an exercise at the trot which simply entailed talking the quarterlines, and then leg yielding toward the wall. My first few attempts were totally ineffective. Then Chrisy had me do a little shoulders-in to get Derbs into the outside rein, and reminded me that quality bend was also required. Better prepared on our next try, we got a few little steps, and then a few more. And as we schooled this exercise, the trot started to feel stronger and more powerful. The quality improved tremendously.
The key take away for me today was pretty straightforward – I need to deliberately ride the movements, and if I don’t get the response I am asking for from the horse, I have to fix it, now. I’ll be focusing on hind end engagement in the near term. Life will be easier when Derby and I improve these skills. Overall, though, I was happy with this ride. Everything – our contact, our trot quality, my leg, quality of bend, the works – was a bit better today.
After I rode, I watched Christy ride Liam. I swear, I learn as much watching her on the ground as I do in lessons. Liam had been off for a few days, and Christy wasn’t happy with the quality of the trot she was getting. She deliberately worked on isolating and moving his hind legs, and once she established that control, the gait quality significantly better. Watching her ride, and seeing how she used leg yields and other movements to activate Liam’s hind legs – and then witnessing the subsequent improvement in the gaits – really solidified my lesson in my mind.