Tightening the screws
November 4, 2011 4 Comments
Christy has figured out an important fix to my position, and we’re working on developing my muscle memory for keeping my core really engaged, my legs softly back, my calves gently against the horse, my knees relaxed, my hips angles open and swinging and my leg long and draping. I’m definitely in the “hard’ phase of the “Hard, Easy, Habit, Beautiful” progression described by George Morris. It’s worth it, though. When I do manage to balance myself and get my knees off the saddle blocks, Derby’s gaits improve dramatically.
Tonight Christy upped the ante on me a bit, asking me to hold my contact and really push the horse into the bridle from behind, creating more uphill movement. In doing this she took dead aim at a bad habit of mine – I tend to give the reins when the horse pulls into contact, and I wind up dumping him on his forehand.
Here’s a stellar example: You can see clearly here how I’ve totally pushed my shoulders forward and straightened my arms, so even though my fingers are closed, I’ve given him a ton of rein. Derby has eagerly accepted, and has gone onto his forehand.
So while the trot quality is nice and the contact is solid, I’m failing miserably here to give Derbs the support he’s seeking, and I’m losing the opportunity to gather power an energy when I give away the reins like this.
At this point, Christy was most likely howling “Hold your reins! PIN YOUR ELBOWS TO YOUR SIDE!” I scrambled to put things back together. First, I half-halted, bringing my elbows back to where they belonged as I rebalanced the tolerant creature beneath me. I sat myself up straighter, and opened my hip angles, and started to lengthen my legs again by dropping my knees. You can see how the changes I made in about 3 strides have improved Derby’s carriage.
Once I had fixed the big issues, I was able to ask Derby to move forward, while (this time!) holding the dang contact. I’m still struggling with staying straight (and keeping the hip angles open) as you can see, but overall, the balance was much better and I finally, finally, finally got him fully connected, producing the nice moment you see at the very top of this post.
It’s the most amazing feeling, and gives me hope for our future in the ring!