Friday, September 26, 2014

Actively riding

My last post I talked about how I was riding my mare. Or more like perched on her doing a whole lot of nothing. What I got from her was exactly that. A whole lot of nothing. No engagement, no suspension, no roundness, no flow and a whole lot of crap, crap, crap. Lol

I will post links to the videos since Blogger doesn't seem to want to cooperate. It has been a total turd lately about letting me post pictures or anything so links it is instead of embedding the videos.

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Going to the right, her better side. Mine not so much. I have a tendency to twist my upper body at the posting trot. Being a bit 'top heavy' doesn't help either. Check the hands- narrow. Which equals my elbows sticking out to the sides.

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Going to the left. My better side and hers- not so much. I have a tendency not to pick up the correct diagonal when starting off at a trot. It has been a long time riding issue for me.

We don't canter yet. We both obviously have things to work on at the trot so let's just not get ahead of ourselves, ok?  I had ridden her in the German martingale before this, to hopefully put an end to the 'Stop & Pop' going on. When I ask this mare to stop, she stops and instantly pops her head up.

Fast forward to a few nights ago.  I tacked Aruba up with her cowgirl clothes because on my western saddle, my stirrups are one hole too long and it sort of forces me to ride off of the movement of the horse rather than rely on my lower leg and the stirrups... I don't post so far up out of the saddle this way either. Also on her western bridle, my reins don't have the little rein stops on them so I don't know how long or short they are, I just know this is working or it isn't. There's no 'cheating' on this. I need to either take up the slack or let her have her head a little and the rein stops don't get in the way for either one.

We started out at the walk. I used my legs to engage her rear end and asked her to reach further up under herself with each step. She responded and started stepping out, but also swished her tail at my leg with each step in protest. Going to the right as her right hind came up, I put my leg/spur on her to get her to step a bit further and she would swish her tail to the right. Going to the left it was the same thing. Step, spur, swish. It sort of had a rhythm to it.

*A note on spurs. I wear spurs on her because if I don't? She either leans on my leg or ignores it completely. With the spurs on, I can use just my leg or turn my heel a little and back it up with the spur if she doesn't respond. If I could not ride well enough to manage this- then I don't belong on a horse like her. When horse people speak of "Earning your spurs", this is what they mean. You have learned to control your lower leg and can use them independently with or without using your spurs and you know when they are needed and when they are not.

I had to remind myself to widen my hands. This is a BIG mare (16.2) and she needs somewhere to GO. My friend had told me to use my hands as a channel and guide her new found energy forward between them. makes sense to me.

Raise my hands up off her withers. Keep the straight line from the elbow to the bit, instead of breaking it up and 'blocking' her movement. At the same time though, I needed to shorten the reins and take a hold of this mare, making her work. Give her the steady contact to support her, but don't hang on too tight and get into a game of tug-o-war.  Let her find the happy medium and she will start to balance herself. Use soft half halts with the outside rein to keep her from breaking into a trot, unless that is what you want, then let her pick up the trot. At the trot, keep using your legs to ask for more reaching up underneath with the hind end.

Magic started to happen. Aruba found that sweet spot a few times of soft self carriage. She was balanced and moving really nicely underneath me. Posting was easy as her movement lifted me up out of the saddle. My legs felt like they were still back underneath me where they belonged and when going to the left, picking up the correct diagonal just happened as she started trotting.

As long as I kept my hands up, open and wide, she started to soften and was quiet and steady in the bridle. And once again as soon as  told her how good she was- she wanted to stop. I kept her going, but then this happened a few times without her popping her head up in the air.  She wasn't thrilled about having to work, but she did it without much protest either. A couple of times she got a little pissy and popped her front end up as if offering to bounce into a canter. I wouldn't mind if she cantered, but I'm not going to let her bounce into it like that in an act of defiance either. It will come with time and work. When we get there- I have no doubt it is going to be a helluva ride!

1 comment:

  1. SOunds like the western saddle was a good move, funny thing about our hands , we are cautioned so much to keep them low, that we can get them too low, and forget to pick them up from time to time, .I was told recently to think about how saddlebreds go so nicely and collected, then look at the riders hands! I wouldn't go that high but there sure is room to go up for a lot of us