Saturday when I took Aruba out to the pasture to ride, we got no further in than the gate when I noticed we had a small audience. I got a few pictures before this little guy/gal scurried off.
Best seat in the house
After I sent the pictures from before to my friend who discouraged the western tack, she came back with a whole list of things I needed to try with this mare. Some of it I thought may be beyond the mares level of training, but it's worth trying and see if it works so I gave it a shot trying to remember what I could of all of the info she spilled on me. Since my western saddle was still in the house from getting a well deserved oiling and turning the stirrups, I went with the dressage saddle.
All dressed up in her 'good clothes'
One of the things she said was to drop my stirrups altogether and work for a little bit without them. Raise your knees up off the saddle as if sitting on a chair and feel your spine and seatbones on the saddle. When you put your legs back down along the horses side, let them hang long and low. I did all of this and when I let my legs hang, I took it one further and sat up, lengthening my spine and remembering to breath. Aruba was calm and quiet for all of this. Surprising since once before I shifted my weight in the saddle and it set her off a bit. She has gotten used to it though since I keep telling her "It's not all about you, ya know."
I decided to do our lateral work without stirrups and see how it went. It felt a lot different and Aruba seemed more cooperative than usual. I was getting movement across the arena on the diagonal, almost getting turns while counterbent and things were going well. Towards the end of our ride, I droped my stirrups back to the sides where they belonged and slipped my feet into them. I decided to ask for a trot.
What I got was amazing. Aruba was light in the bridle, balanced and her movement was carrying me which made posting- effortless on my part. I remembered to sit up straight and look up not only where we were going and where I wanted her to go. I didn't have to use my spurs once. My leg was all it took and she moved off it, bent to the inside, a nice steady gait and it was really fun up there. She was relaxed and as we went around and around the arena, I set my inside rein while praising her and scratching her neck with my outside hand. And though I was talking to her, she kept on trotting.
Of course you do one direction and you have to do the other. We had been going to the right which is her better side, but not mine. We reversed and went to the left (my better side- hers not so much) only to find the same steady, slow, balanced, easy pace. It was the steady rhythm and free flowing movement that made riding- easy.
Don't I look Fahbulous Dahling?