One of my main issues – besides the fact that I have horrible “conformation” to be a rider – with ridiculously short arms and legs (28″ inseam!!) is relaxing my leg to make it longer, (well, as long as it physically CAN be!) and to bring my legs back FROM THE HIP SOCKET. Doing this gives me much more leg ‘real estate’ to actually use on the horse. But it is hard – and sometimes PAINFUL. I get awful thigh cramps at times – always in my right leg. And my legs do not want to stay there. Until, that is, I dropped my stirrups and rode the entire time without them on Fling last night. And wonder of wonders, not only did my legs stay BACK on her with no stirrups, I sat deeper in the saddle. And even more wonderful – when I went to pick up my stirrups at the end, they felt really SHORT. So I lengthened them a hole and then rode in them and, gee, it was so much easier to keep my legs BACK with a slightly longer stirrup!
This week I have been really concentrating on a few main things from my Debbie Bowman clinic last weekend — looking no further ‘outside’ than my horse’s outside ear, keeping my fingers CLOSED on the reins, stretching my legs DOWN and resisting my tendancy to draw my knees UP into the knee rolls, and stretching up very tall from my core, but also from my collarbone up, and to LOOK UP. For me, there are only so many things I can thinnk about at once and also ride my horse – and so I am trying to make these changes ingrained habits – so there will be room in my brain for the OTHER things I need to improve about my riding! LOL! But even working on those few simple things have made Fling and Faeryn much better!
Faeryn’s canter has improved SO much since the clinic – where Debbie had me do all of the above, plus think about taking more equal contact on both reins. I also am trying to resist my very bad habit of pumping at the canter – and just letting her move underneath me and keeping my seat very ‘neutral.’ Those small changes have made a HUGE difference. Her canter is so much more balanced and correct. Of course, I am sure Faeryn is thinking “She really is riding me better since that clinic!” LOL! Any ‘flaws’ in my horses are always due to ‘pilot error.’
I rode Fling three days in a row and got super work from her. A much fancier trot with much more impulsion, better half pass at trot – and, for once, I schooled HP at canter and was able to convince her to let ME drive (she really wants to ‘take over’ at canter HP since she is convinced there is a flying change at the end of each one) and was able to half pass all the way from centerline to the rail and keep it all together a few times! Her canter is getting better and better – mostly from my improved position — but also from a greater degree of self-carriage on her part. I’ve been doing a lot of ‘forward and back’ at trot and canter and it’s paying off! The ‘acid test’ for Fling’s canter is just cantering in straight lines all around the arena. If she can maintain her self carriage and LISTEN to my half halts and keep the same speed/tempo for the whole canter tour — then we’re golden. Today I cantered all around the arena and was able to ‘ride every stride’ and do a few steps of medium and come back easily. My “little sports car” is back!
Until I get the footing in my arena sorted out, I basically can only ride one horse after work, since I am limited to riding in our ten-acre field, and have no lights. These days I race home and change and head back outside since there’s only about an hour of light once I get home. Last night I was ‘hot’ to ride Fling for the first time since our rides with Debbie over the weekend and of course they chose to be idiots and race around the pasture like a bunch of hooligans! Fling was panting and almost dripping wet by the time they stopped long enough for me to catch her! I used to love seeing my horses run, but now I am out there screaming WHOA WHOA like a madwoman as all I can think about is the possibility of tendon injuries or even worse!
Needless to say, Fling was already quite ‘warmed up’ when I got on her and we went right to work. One of my main problems on her was that I was looking way too far tot he inside, twisting mybody. Ispent the session trying to stretch myself tall from my ‘collarbones up’ and to keep my eyes UP and look between her ears. Her trot was fabulous and very connected and I did a few medium and extended trots which were super. Very powerful and not just ‘quick’ as sometimes can be the case. The canter is getting better – I had some super moments of really good self-carriage, but I know there’s an even better canter in there. Also worked on half pass – I have been letting her haunches lead in the half pass – it didn’t feel like it to me – but that’s why you need eyes on the ground. When she does a correct half pass with the shoulders clearly leading, to ME it feels like her haunches are really trailing and we’re just sort of trotting across the diagonal. So my task is to re-align my sense of feel to recognize a good half pass from an, excuse me, can’t resist – half-*ss half pass. 😉
I am really hoping I have a few hours to myself — and that it does not rain too much — over the Tgiving weekend to FINALLY get my arena footing straightened out. I “meant” to do it in the evening (under arena lights) every night this week, but I really just HATE working in the dark – I have a real hard time with the time change every year. It puts me in a blue funk since I don’t get nearly enough time in the DAYLIGHT.
Just by incorporating some of the main things Debbie had me do – stretch up from my collarbones, and stretch down into the stirrups, and keep myself better ‘centered’ in the saddle – Faeryn was noticeably better. Improving my position allows me to keep her more connected – she feels like one supple ‘piece’ from nose to tail – and has much more impulsion. Before, I tended to look too much to the center – with all of my horses – which messed up my seat and encouraged them to fall in. Faeryn’s energy level is incredible. It is amazing to think that when I first started her under saddle I wondered where I was going to find the energy and impulsion to ever get her to second level! Her canter was also much better – I am trying to just SIT at the canter and break my bad habit of ‘pumping.’
Still don’t feel great, and the time change has done its usual number on my mood, but at least I am riding. My arena has been unrideable due to rain and the fact that I haven’t had the time or energy to ‘rearrange’ the new sand so that it’s even everywhere. At both ends it is WAY too deep. Need to try and move some sand with the front end loader, which is going to be a slow and tedious job, given my lack of skill with that! So, since I have less than an hour of daylight when I get home, not much riding getting done since I can’t ride in my lighted arena, and my round pen doesn’t have lights yet! Hopefully I can fix the arena in the next few days before it starts raining again! The deep spots are not bad when the arena is dry, but when it’s wet, it’s way more noticeable.
I rode all the horses with Debbie Bowman this weekend. Had two rides with Fling and one each with Faxx and Faeryn. Debbie likes Fling a lot – so much that she told me if she was ever for sale to let her know. That made me laugh. As if I’d ever sell her! We worked on our canter and trot half pass. And basic canter work. All showed marked improvement. Now if I can just make the fixes ‘permanent’ so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time! Faeryn was a little star. She started off good, but she got “wow” by the end. Super, super connected, which enabled me to do really good shoulder-in and lengthenings. Making my leg just a big longer and sitting up more, especially from my collarbones, has a dramatic effect on the way she goes. I rode Faxx on Sunday – and realized it was the first time he’s been ridden since the championships!! We worked on shoulder in with him too. It’s time to raise the bar on him – he’s just been ‘skating’ all year! 😉
I guess you could say I am on ‘stall rest.’ I am coughing like mad and the stuff Doc #1 gave me might as well have been tap water for all the good it did in stopping my cough. I think I have slept about 4 hours the past two nights combined. I went to work today but didn’t last long before I started having coughing fits, so called my regular doc, who worked me in, and got some “Big Guns” for the cough – ie, cough med with codeine. Plus three other assorted drugs! She said my lungs sound like crap. Is that an official diagnosis they teach in med school now? Anyway, will take the cough med tonight and hope it works. Jury is out as to whether I will try (again) to go to work tomorrow.
At least it’s not beautiful weather for my ‘stall rest.’ It’s been raining every day. So I’ve been studying the new first level and third level tests. Plus the old first 4 test for the schooling show champs in December.
Most of my show stuff is still stuff into the dressing room of my trailer. I’ve been coughing my head off. Went to the Rediclinic yesterday a.m. and got two kinds of cough meds and antibiotics. Neither cough med is working too swell. I slept at most, 2 hours at stretch last night in-between fits of coughing.
I really need and want to ride!!!