Well, that didn’t go as planned.
December 5, 2011 3 Comments
After working so hard yesterday, I was eager for my lesson today, and I arrived at the barn early to deal with the very muddy horse I assumed I would find. Derby, however, was pretty much pristine, despite the soupy conditions out in the paddocks. He had been alone today, as his pasture mate Remy had to have a shoe replaced, and evidently he didn’t move around much. There were no spatters on his tummy, he was just dirty from the fetlocks down.
As pleased as I was to not be confronted by a horse that was liberally coated with goo, in retrospect, it would have been better if he moved around a bit more today. Once we got going – barely going – in our lesson, it was evident that something was wrong. I hopped off, and fetched a longe line. As I came back into the arena, Christy handed me the reins and palpated Derby’s rump. Gentle pressure caused him to really flinch. Derbs was afflicted with a very sore patootie.
I was pretty surprised by this. Yes, we worked hard yesterday. But I wasn’t doing a lot of transitions, and we are so not anywhere close to doing anything collected. However, Christy reminded me that we have upped the ante, and both Derby and I are doing a lot more these days.
On the longe Derby loosened up, and promptly surprised us both by flashing some really fancy trot – by far the nicest we’ve seen from this horse. As I was standing there slackjawed, Christy said, “Well, your horse definitely isn’t broken!”
I got back on, and Christy decided to give the horse a bit of a break, and to torture me instead. I had told her that Iwas having problems keeping my lower leg still – I’m still carrying too much weight on my stirrups, and as a result, my lower leg moves around a lot when I post. On Sunday when I encountered this, I alternated posting with standing a couple beats, then posting a couple, then standing …. doing so helps me “feel” the correct spot for my leg. However, since I was squarely in Christy’s cross hairs, and because this is a problem caused by lack of strength on my part, Christy had me get into two point, keeping my weight on my inner thighs. My test for whether or not I’m doing this correctly is letting my stirrups “rattle” on the bottom of my boot – they can’t rattle and move around if I’m really leaning on them. I did a lap of that before calling uncle. Christy then had me post from a half-seat, keeping my legs engaged and butt out of the saddle. This is my homework for the next few days. We’re going to move to posting without stirrups in short order. It’s not fun but I’m going to bear down and get it done.
We did have an interesting moment right at the beginning of the ride, as I was just starting to warm up. Christy wasn’t happy with what she saw, and had me drop my stirrups and stretch. Fortuitously, she grabbed :51 of video which illustrated something pretty important about the problems I’m having. Here it is:
At the beginning of the video, watch me carefully. Do you see my hips moving? No. You don’t. Instead, I’m moving my shoulders. The horse’s movement is not being absorbed by my seat. It’s “coming out” my shoulders. My body is essentially acting like a lever. Now, look at Derby’s walk. It’s tending toward lateral. (Nice.) His back isn’t swinging. Other than his cute lime green saddle pad and clean shiny self, there’s not a lot to like.
At about the :28 mark, I start to make the adjustments Christy suggests. I still my shoulders, and start to let my hips really follow the horse’s movement. Almost instantly, you can see Derbs take a larger stride with his hind legs. His back comes up a bit, and he develops a nice, 4-beat cadence. I think Christy caught kind of a profound moment in this little clip, and I’m glad she did. That little change made a big difference for the horse!
So, onward and upward. Tomorrow we’ll do some nice stretchy work, and I will spend some quality time in two-point.