Jumbled thoughts regarding riding

For something that is so simple, it is sure not easy. Where is the sweet spot? Where I ask you? Now, I’m not talking about the leg position, I’m talking about that oh-so-elusive contact. Too much, you are waterskiing on your horse’s mouth, too little, you are sloppy.

A show picture, and really, I was riding without connection.

Winning the warmup….

I’ve had 4 lessons so far this weekend. And, the rein comments have been longer rein…then shorter rein, then longer, then shorter. Sometimes, it is more bend in the elbow, sometimes it is actually letting the rein length change. Then, it is sometimes I’m lost. I have no idea if I’m too long, too short, or just right.

Now, the horses have been fantastic. Bali was a bit “WOOHOO!” this morning, which was fine, and I’d say that on the whole, I think my reins have been a solid 3-4″ longer this weekend than where I’ve been riding. It has been a couple of years since I’ve had such a seat intensive clinic.

This morning I posted a stream of consciousness list of bulletized thoughts from my lessons. I’m still struggling to put it into paragraphs. So, I have more tools in my toolbox, but I’m not exactly sure I’m quite ready to use them without a mentor.

The positive encouragement has been fabulous. not that I have not been getting all sorts of “quit waterskiing on your horse’s mouth”, “more inside seatbone”, “quit leaning in” comments, but it has been positive in the “your horses are BOTH ready for flying changes, it is time to learn to do it”.

On Bali, I need to really work on keeping the inside hind engaged. For her, work on half pass, in trot, is good strengthening exercises. Lots of 10m circles, finding the right bend, using seat, not reins. Not leaning in, I honestly think I’ve been thinking the feel of leaning is the feel of bend. Although, there are always times when you overcorrect. I’d be looking down at my counterbent horse, thinking “huh?”, but she ended up more balanced.

So, inside seat, a LOT. Outside elbow heavy with that gallon of milk in a bag, and the hand low. The inside hand, a leetle bit up, not pulling.

I’m still struggling with coming out of a 10m circle and going down the longside in shoulder in without using reins. I end up staggering a few steps like a drunken sailor. On Bali, we did a lot of haunches in, and trot half pass. I am still struggling with the feel. Which part of that was the good, which part was bad. I know I feel all of it, but registering the finer points of good/bad/meh is really hard.

In my new quest to not lean in when I use the inside seatbone, I think I might be overcompensating and while attempting to use my shoulder back to influence that side, I’m actually using too much outside seatbone. ARGH!

I kept needing reminders to look no further in than the outside ear.

Bali offers the flying changes pretty easily. As I keep working I am to completely separate the canter half pass from the flying changes. She will be too quick to use a flying change as an evasion to the harder work.

Note to self, get out there 15 minutes early to ensure that you have the horse’s focus when the instructor shows up. I KNOW that the distracted horse is not going to learn. I don’t need to keep getting lessons on getting the focus. Sometimes, it is good to get input on a warmup, others….I’d rather just get the horse focused on me before the lesson begins and use my instructor time on things that I DO need help with.

Bali did a handful of changes at the end, but the vast majority of our work was in trot.


I actually rode Diana in between my two, but there was nobody out there, so without someone on the ground, I didn’t want to break the unknown horse. Was I asking for too little? Too much? She ended better than she started, so overall, it was a good ride to practice…and to make me appreciate my own girls!

So, on Sparkle, I was nicely warmed up when Richard came out. But, she likes to brace and come above the bit in transitions. In this case, bend transitions. L-R or R-L. R-L was harder, but we spent a lot of time working on keeping her round, and soft, and I got the oh-so-confusing instructions to move my fingers more. OMG This is so difficult. Wiggle the fingers? my hands are too static? Where is that fine line between static and still? Wiggle and bad hands? As I’m doing this, I’m just hearing in my mind the yelling Michael would do about the wiggling fingers.

After a lot of 10m circles, in a figure 8, we finally left the circles and did some shoulder in. Then, a lot more center lines are prescribed for me.

A new exercise in canter for Sparkle was 4 strides half pass, 4 strides shoulderfore, 4 strides half pass..rinse repeat until you run out of room. Then, at the end of this, we tried “ride both shoulder fore and half pass at the same time”.

A few rounds of this and he had me doing something…in French “pliee”, but it translates to leg yield at canter. So, in one of my leg yield in canter, Sparkle did a flying change. Knock me over with a feather. Whoa! And, then, we started working on flying changes. We tried the sequence the other way, hp/sf/hp/ly, and nothing. So, then it was get the r-l change. In the end, it was pick up a right lead canter, from a collected walk, on the straight, out of a corner. Then, only 3-4 strides into the canter, ask for the left lead. Big, dramatic request. Much praise and fuss was made when it finally happened. It got better and better and at the end, we’d gotten 5 of them.

Oh, the other thing we did, was the pasade. This I’d done w/ Kottas, a start to the walk piourette, where you are thinking haunches in while you are doing a walk piourette, moving the shoulders over too, and it is not in place, so you half-pass back to the rail, and then maintain that old bend. When you change bend, be clear on changing the aids. This, even at the walk, is the same change that you’ll be using in flying changes. So, think of each change of bend as a flying change. Be clear in the change of your aids from inside to outside.

Ok, this is insanely long! Hopefully this will help me remember a few of the exercises.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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