Learning is a process.

I'm a big fan of my new leg postion. It's a lot more secure, and things like this aren't as scary!

I took my good weekend rides into a lesson tonight, telling Christy that I had figured out where my trouble with the right rein is originating – I’m popping my right shoulder forward – so even though my hand is not.giving.rein, well, my shoulder is.   Here, from tonight, in all its spectacular ugliness, is my issue du jour.

Where to start? Note the right hand (and shoulder) are far forward, and there is loop in the right rein. The outside rein. Nice.

So I focused a lot on keeping my shoulders square, pushing my left hip a bit forward (feedback from the Equitrainer a couple months ago) and not letting my right shoulder come forward. Obviously, I have a lot of progress to make in this respect.  I mentioned to Christy that I felt like I was constantly breaking and fixing my postion, and she assured me that there would always be something like this to work on – it may eventually be more subtle (I sure hope so) but, as she said, if it was easy, we’d all be riding Grand Prix.

As I rode, we also paid attention to transitions. I’ve been so focused on my leg position and other issues, I’ve allowed the mare to become very sloppy – I have to work harder to get her off my leg, and make her round onto the bit.  She’s fallen behind my leg, which doesn’t help.  It’s hard to do much when your horse isn’t even tracking up. Christy pointed out to me that I was having to ask the mare repeatedly for upward transitions, so I dispensed with my wishy-washy-ness and started using my whip.

I would love to say we went around like this all night, but I would be lying. Besides, you've already seen the two previous pictures.

Fact is, it’s hard to ride well when your horse isn’t responsive.   It’s hard to stay balanced, and keep the horse round and soft, if at the same time you have to kick the critter into an upward transition.  And I recall how easy my first few rides on Maddie were – Christy had put 90 days of training on her, and the mare was ultra light and responsive.  I’ve made her dull, and I need to fix this.

We made some progress tonight, getting what we call “big trot” which really just means a decent working trot, with the horse tracking up and a nice rhythmic tempo. It feels good to be riding that trot again, though I’m still not getting the gait in which I can really feel the mare pushing with the big engine in her hindquarters.   But we aren’t too far away from it.  And I need to make that nice “big” trot my habit.  That’s the trot that ultimately is easiest to work from – which is precisely why it’s called “working trot.”  It’s an essential piece of the foundation.

Toward the end of the ride, Christy assured me it didn’t look as bad as it felt (at least the last few patterns.  The first part of the lesson wasn’t pretty, I don’t care what she says!)  I’m looking forward to the point in the near future when I have re-installed the responsiveness buttons, and have fixed that dratted shoulder!


About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

7 Responses to Learning is a process.

  1. dressage rider says:

    Totally hear you regarding your leg position and how you’re always tweaking things. In my last lesson I was jamming my heels down. I have no idea why. A totally new thing for me. It didn’t improve until the end when I decided to just ride with confidence, etc.

  2. Sarah Skerik says:

    Good point! There’s a lot to be said for just riding!

  3. Jess says:

    Your leg looks great. Just stumbled onto your blog the other day — from COTH, I think? — and I’m interested to go back and read how you got there. I’ve been riding for ages and I still struggle with chair seat! Much of my problem is just my own personal conformation (I’m very narrow-hipped, so my legs can only go out so far before they have to go forward into chair seat), but obviously some of it can be fixed! It’s so true that sometimes it seems like we’re constantly tweaking our own positions. When do we just get to ride?! 🙂

    • Sarah Skerik says:

      Hi Jess – thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words! Yes, you probably saw me on COTH. Fixing the leg was NOT fun – there was a solid month of ugly riding and I was pretty uncomfortable. But I’m so much more secure in the saddle, and my aids are more effective (um, when I apply them correctly…) It was worth it. Good luck!

  4. Steph says:

    I hope I can look that good when Oliver pulls a major spook! That’s a pretty impressive picture

  5. dressage rider says:

    I just awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Stop by to pick it up.

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