A forward horse, and an unexpected gift
December 3, 2010 2 Comments
As you know, I’ve been working on improving my position in the saddle. To gear up for riding without stirrups at a pace faster than the walk, Christy’s had me working in the two point postion. Correctly. You see, until this week, when I hopped up into two point, I just lifted my tush out of the saddle and off I’d go. Turns out this isn’t the right way to do it, as I discovered this week. There’s more to the two-point than simply tipping your butt up out of the saddle.
In my lesson yesterday, Christy had me working in two point. And shortly after we started, I started complaining of nasty pain in my ankles. The muscles in my lower legs were en fuego. Which ain’t right. So Christy suggested that I work on moving the stirrup around on my foot – forward, backward – while in two point.
I stopped what I was doing and looked at her like she had ten heads.
Move the stirrup around on my foot, while in two point? Yes, she said, pointing out that I should be carrying most of my weight on my inner thighs, not my feet.
All righty, then.
I started walking around, trying to figure it out. Hands braced on the pommel, I posted while Mads walked, trying to get a feel for lifting myself from my thighs. The mare was confused but tolerant, at times stopping when things got too wriggly, and turning her head to give me a long look, as if to ask “You OK up there?” When I started to feel it, we picked up the trot. My inital challenge was keeping Maddie moving – anytime I got too unsteady (in her opinion) she’d drop to a walk. What good girl she is.
Finally, by the end of the ride, I got it. We were trotting around, with my hiney out of the saddle, and I was able to really lighten my foot in the stirrup, carrying my weight on my upper legs, not my feet.
Tonight, I was saddling up as Christy was getting going on her new boy, Remy. It was close to feeding time, and , my girl Mads was antsy. We got going, limbering up at the walk, while chitchatting with Christy. Then it was time to work. I hopped into two point, giving Mads plenty of rein to stretch. Round we went. My thighs were on fire. I was doing it right.
Panting after a few laps, I decided to relieve the stress on my legs by posting. I picked up more contact, and started shallow serpentines, bending Mads right and left from my seat. Clearly, my aids are a little confusing, because Mads – who was already nice and forward – stepped into a right lead canter.
Crap! I didn’t ask for that, and I’ve always been told that you don’t let horses get away with decision-making. I started to half halt her, when from the other end of the arena came the command, “RIDE IT!” Christy was keeping an eye on us, and I know better than to argue with her. Down my butt went into the saddle, and ’round we went. We kept going until by mutual agreement we had had enough.
Afterward, Christy reminded me that part of riding entails riding the horse you have at the moment. When the horse is forward and sensitive, you ride that that horse. Don’t pick fights you can’t win. Set yourself up for success.
That nice little spontaneous canter was an unexpected gift from Mads – it was a fun confidence builder, and a reminder of the “ride the horse you have” rule.