Monday, January 30, 2012

All Together Now

Do you remember when you first started riding back in the dark ages a while ago for some us? I'm sure most of you know some version of the mantra "heels down, eyes up, shoulders back!" You get your heels down only to realize you are leaning forward. You get your shoulders back only to realize you are posting with your hands and on it goes. I've recently re-discovered that riding is basically a series of learning how to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time (only much more complicated). When you first start trying this little trick it is not easy as demonstrated by my 5 and 3 year old. (I have no explanation for their version of sound effects.)

You'll notice neither one of them managed to pat and rub at the same time.  

Dusty, one of those "great" lesson ponies. (OMG! What was I wearing!?!)
I don't think there are too many of us who get on a horse and just get it from the beginning. It takes lots and lots of time in the saddle to get all our body parts working together. This is why solid lesson ponies are worth their weight in gold. I mean the really good lesson ponies who put up with beginners pulling on their faces and bouncing on their backs but still have good attitudes. Those are hard to come by.

I thought I had all this independent body stuff down ages ago but this weekend made me realize that I still have a ways to go. I can pat my head and rub my tummy all day long but now I need to pat my head keeping a 3/4 beat while rubbing my tummy 15.4 times a minute all while climbing a set of crowded stairs.

What do you mean I need to relax my hips to follow the motion but still support with my leg to get that canter transition??? This was the issue I was having this past weekend. Canter transitions, really? I should have these by now. (It's so easy to get frustrated when things that should be simple turn out to be hard.) Sky, the horse I was riding, is not a good beginner's lesson horse but it turns out he is an AWESOME advanced/intermediate lesson horse. He would not settle for halfway aids. Precision is the key to this guy. This made me realize how much I'd been getting away with on other horses. We use fancy terms now like independent seat but really it's just another version of rubbing your tummy and patting your head.

One thing I did discover is that I actually do better when I don't think about it. When we were "working on" the canter transitions in my lesson they were terrible but when we moved on to some grid work suddenly I had perfect (okay maybe not perfect but certainly better and smoother) transitions because I was thinking about the jumps coming up and not about the transition.

So you know, now I just need to remember NOT to think (so much) about what I'm doing. Sure no problem.


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