January 16, 2011 3 Comments
The last few days have been illuminating, starting on Thursday. I didn’t ride on Thursday- work was catching up with me, and I had zero energy – so I gave my lesson to one of Christy’s other students, and she rode Maddie. It has been a long time since I’ve seen Mads go and it was fun to watch – and revealing. Mads went beautifully for H. and she didn’t hang on the left rein whatsoever. That provided more conclusive proof that the issues with the left rein are operator error – and not the big mare’s fault.
So when I rode Saturday, I was resolved to practice what Christy had me work on during our most recent lesson – giving the left rein when bending or circling to the right, while being sure to hold that right (outside) rein. I worked at it – somewhat fruitlessly – giving the inside rein, while trying to keep my hands even and avoid letting the right rein get longer – but my efforts didn’t produce the quality bending I was hoping to generate.
But then it happened. I caught myself shifting my right shoulder forward – effectively giving the right rein away. Eureka! So now I know what my next personal project is – fixing my shoulder alignment. A review of some recent videos provided additional confirmation. But at least I know what the underlying cause of my difficulties, so I can take aim at fixing the issue.
Today Steph and I headed out to the barn early, to beat the rush because we both wanted to work on some things with minimal distractions. I wanted to work on making my transitions more crisp, and (of course) the rein balance info. We warmed up stretching and bending, and I really focused on keeping my right shoulder back, even with my left, rather than letting it creep forward. I did catch myself a couple times, but overall, I was pretty happy with the way things were going.
I took my nice bending and started to work on transitions, shifting from walk to trot to walk again, asking for a prompt response from the mare, while also keeping her round. As we worked, I found I found I had a nicely forward horse and so I asked for the canter, and got a a decent upward transition.
It’s easy to look good on Mads – she has the nicest, most rhythmic canter and it’s fun to ride. We haven’t worked much in this gait, and I need to work on swinging my hips, staying with (and influencing the gait.) That’s on the list of things to do.
I was really happy with our short canter, and the downward transition was nice too. I kept her at a trot after that canter, mixing up the pattern, because Mads sometimes does start to anticipate the canter, taking it upon herself to offer it freely at every subsequent upward transition. So I redoubled the transitions, throwing in some halts, too. As much as she wanted to hop ahead, Mads was very responsive to the half halt, and I liked the quality of the little trot she gave me, though I did have to work hard with my core to hold her there.
It was a satisfying ride, laying groundwork for the next set of skills I need to improve.
(Special shout out to Steph, thanks for taking all the video!)