Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Equitation Progress

Yes, you heard it in the title: "Progress". No, that's not me or any of my horses in the picture. It comes from a horse show. I asked my equitation instructor today which discipline he thought that Bombay would be most suited for, and he replied, "Country English". It would take a lot of training and money for us to show Country English, but I always like to get a professional's opinion on my horses. I don't even have an English saddle, none the less the costume.

Our lesson went well, so I decided to continue working with my equitation instructor a while longer. I told him about that blister on my knee, and he said, "That's good. It means you are posting from the knees and not the stirrups."

He also informed me that if I wear jeans, I should wind some vet wrap around my thigh just above my knees to prevent blistering. Otherwise, I should wear breeches. That's another thing I don't own at the moment. He also sympathized with me enough to limit the amount of posting we did this week. However, he did spend a lot of time getting me to keep a tight rein and get my horse to give in the face before transitions. Bombay did a lot of pulling, and I ended up with blisters on my fingers. So, next week I will be wearing gloves, regardless of how hot it might be.

I told him about my son taking pictures of me while I rode, and said I could understand now why he keeps telling me to correct my leg position. I explained that I lowered the stirrups a couple of notches to see if that helped, and it did. He seemed fine with that, and corrected my leg position a lot less during this lesson. I asked if my saddle is too small for me. He said it is okay, perhaps a tiny bit too small, but when I lose a little more weight I will fit it just fine. My previous riding instructor was constantly making me buy new tack, so I appreciate that this guy isn't overly concerned. I also told him that I noticed myself leaning to the side like I was riding a motorcycle in some of the pictures. He said that I ride very upright and balanced when he's watched me. The way to correct leaning is to drop your outside shoulder and sit on your outside hip.

We spent some time working on the canter. In the past, I always gave my horse more rein when moving into the canter. As a result, we were really galloping out of control. My instructor explained that you have to pull the reins in to collect and get some give in the horse's face first. The next step is to lay your outside heel on the barrel and wait to feel the horse's hips move inside. Then you lift your inside rein and cluck. Bombay moved into the most relaxing, beautiful lope. I don't think that we ever experienced that gait together. I was like, "Wow! Riding can feel like this?" I was in heaven.

Once we mastered all paces in my neighbor's round pen, my instructor opened the gate and had me ride over to the big back paddock by the llama farm. I was graduating back up to the big girl arena. He caught me leaning over Bombay's neck to pat him, and said that when petting a horse, you should always sit upright in the correct position and reach just your arm forward. He explained that if my horse spooked and jumped to the side right then, I would have ended up on the ground because I wasn't balanced.

He also spent some time talking about Bombay's spookiness, explaining that I always have to be fiddling with him in some way to keep his attention on me, otherwise he will forget that I am on his back and he'll start doing dangerous, goofy things. So, I have to remember to keep playing my fingers on the reins and working my legs on him. As long as I continue to give him cues, he will be too busy responding to the cues to worry about my neighbor dragging the hose to a different location.

We agreed that in my next lesson I would ride my mare, Lostine. After that I would ride in my dressage saddle, which has been collecting dust for years. I'm happy that we have a game plan for my progress, and that my instructor is flexible enough to let me make some of these changes, so that I don't feel like I'm doing the same thing over and over. I'm really looking forward to those next lessons.


Andrea said...

What a great lesson! This trainer sounds very nice. So sorry you got blisters!! Maybe a good pair of half chaps would help. I got mine for like 17 dollars from Dover. They were on sale. They aren't the prettiest but they work.

Callie said...

Congrats! Great work! What an accomplishment! I'd be looking forward to the next lesson too. So glad that things are going well!

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

I love that opening photo - very elegant.

Jamie said...

Thanks for stopping by and helping me out !!
Your the best !

sue said...

THIS trainer sounds ALOT like mine!! and I LOVE her!!! so I hope you have found someone that you "love"... and I think I have to agree about gloves and breeches... that is one thing I "invested" in and it does make riding "more comfortable".... one question.. how in the world do you post in a western saddle??? I have hardly even rode in one.. but it just looks like that would be really hard to do... (I know my "western friends"... not??!!ride in a western saddle???) :-)

Jenn said...

It always feels so good to have a good lesson when everything just seems to click. Those few wonderful "WOW!" moments make all the work worthwhile because you are ultimately striving towards making those moments stretch longer and longer. It's what keeps us riding and learning and WORKING!

As for leaning around the corners, like riding a motorcycle, I used to lean inside, badly. I had a fabulous classical dressage instructor who described riding corners and circles as riding the out side of your horse. Try visualizing riding the outside of your horse, it did wonders for fixing my tilting position.

I have discovered that the trainers who always want you to buy new tack don't always have enough teaching skills to help you learn with what you have.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

andrea - I spent some time researching half chaps vs. tights with knee pads vs. full seat breeches, etc. I found some breeches that are designed for women with a small waise but wide hips (that's me), so I'm thinking I'll get those. Thanks.

Callie - Thanks for your encouragement.

SMR - It's a little bit blurry, but I like the everything else about the photo.

Jaime - No problem. Link away!

Sue - I don't know. I just do what my instructor tells me, which is to push up from the knees on the diagonal, let your horse's rump push you up at the same time, and don't post over the horse's neck. Sometimes I ride at the trot sitting in the saddle, but that's more jarring to the back than posting.

I'm thinking that since I started out in jeans in a Western saddle, things will just get a lot easier once I wear breeches and switch to the dressage saddle.

Twinville said...

What a refreshing post reading about all this positive progress. I'm looking forward to reading about your next lessons using your dressage saddle, and riding Lostine, too.


photogchic said...

If you want so affordable breeches...there is a brand called "Hipsters" they usually run about $35/$40...really like how comfortable they are and really durable. I found them in a local feed store. Sounds like a great lesson.

Train Wreck said...

I get a sore on the inside of my knee on my right leg, I was tols I was using my legs too much and needed to use my stirrups more! Too funny!

Shirley said...

If you don't want to ride in breeches all the time, try wearing panty hose under your jeans. It's an old trail rider trick; the jeans won't chafe you.