Today was one of those freak pleasant days in the middle of winter that make you remember spring isn’t all that far away, so I seized the chance to ride. The ring was slushy, and I nearly lost a boot in the mud trying to catch a lesson horse who did NOT want to be caught, but who cares? Beats work any day.
Per my instructor’s hint that a stronger core would lead to easier downward transitions, I’ve been doing some daily ‘homework’ with a crazy gymnastics video I found online (as well as my usual nightly Yogamazing). It’s been kicking my butt! Good thing is it did pay off with the transitions.
- Warmup: Lots of changes of direction and transitions between walk-trot
- 5 steps sitting trot, 5 steps rising while adding some 20m circles
- 20 strides trot to 20 strides canter a few times
- 5 steps sitting trot, 5 steps rising, 5 steps in two-point while doing serpentines and figure 8s
- Cooldown: transitions from walk-halt-walk, then long rein walk
Prior to riding with this instructor I didn’t really do exercises like the 5 steps sitting, 5 steps posting, etc. but it REALLY has helped a lot with the downward transitions, which have always been challenging for me when riding sensitive horses. On the Shire I leased briefly, downward transitions were pretty darn easy…not so much with the Thoroughbred, who would run through my hand and plod around on the forehand if I didn’t ask just right. With the TB, I usually just let the reins run through my hand a little bit so he had nothing to lean on, which did stop him, but didn’t really help with the leaning on the forehand.
Now I know how to keep my hands “in a box” in front of the saddle, sit tall, stretch down in the heel, and close my leg (thigh, knee and calf) briefly to get a nice, balanced transition. Before I didn’t get that it was OK to use the whole leg.
We also worked on proper bend, which is another one of those seemingly basic things that has eluded me for years. Amazing how sitting on the OUTSIDE seat bone allows the horse’s INSIDE hind leg to come under. It makes total sense and it works like a charm. My dear instructor earned her lesson fee today.
Once all the Pony Club kids, moms and siblings rolled in after my lesson, I also had to coax a small child down from trying to scale the 8-foot fence into the round pen. He was just about over the edge when I saw him. It’s a miracle these things always seem to sort themselves out just in time with a barn full of horse-crazy kids…never a dull moment.