Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sometimes You Need That Bad Picture (or Video)! (Part 2)

As I left for the barn the clouds were looking quite ominous, like a big wall of black, maybe I wouldn't have to ride after all. About halfway to the barn the rain started. I thought about turning around but good manners would not let me do that. My trainer hadn't called to cancel so she was still expecting me.

As I pulled into the barn it was still coming down although not quite as hard. One of the Japanese instructors was giving a lunge lesson in the rain and all the Americans were huddled under the barn awnings. Two horses were already tacked up, Sky and Mokoto. Alexis told me she had planned on riding before my lesson and the horses had been tacked up and ready to go for about 45 minutes but they had been trying to wait out the rain.

It seemed as though I was going to get out of my lesson. I told Alexis I really didn't mind if we cancelled and I mentioned being a little discouraged from the photos of the day before. She immediately jumped on that; telling me not to be discouraged. And like magic the rain stopped. We stepped outside the awning to double check and looked at the radar on a weather app on her phone and it seemed as though we would get that ride in after all.

As Sky was already tacked up I went ahead and rode him again. Right away there was a huge difference between the two days' rides. Alexis mentioned that she should have shown me videos of myself earlier as my hands were a hundred times quieter.

All things were not perfect by any means. I still had moments like this:
And I was still having a hard time keeping my heels down at times:
But I also had a few pretty nice moments. Not perfect but much nicer:

So I learned quite a few things through these two rides.
  1.  I still have a lot of work to do. It's not like I didn't know this before but it was just a reminder. I especially need to keep working on that independent seat. I need it to be able to keep my hips loose and following while my legs are strong and my hands are quiet. It's especially noticeable when I ask for that canter transition because I have to be so strong with my leg it literally makes me curl my whole body up (which is what causes me to lose my stirrups in the first place). With an independent seat I would be able to have that strong leg while remaining long and loose to follow.
  2. It's not ALL me. I rode in a different saddle the second day and right away I had a much easier time keeping my seat balanced and underneath me. The second saddle is still a far cry from the saddle I ride at home and I once had the opportunity to ride in one of my trainer's custom saddles and even though it wasn't custom for me it still made a HUGE difference in my form. The right equipment really can make a difference.
  3. This isn't something I learned so much as something I need to really keep thinking about and that is the size of the horse I am riding. Sky is a really big horse. You can tell I look like a little peanut on him. He's not just tall, he's built very strong. I get tossed around on him quite a bit. I think I do alright with him but it isn't always comfortable. Since I'm getting ready to (hopefully) buy my next horse I'm really going to have to think about how big I'm going to be comfortable with.
Tomorrow is Adult Camp! Here is a preview of what we are supposed to be doing:


900 - arrive
915 - yoga
1030 - ride - Group 1
1130 - ride - Group 2
1230 - lunch
100 - massages
130 - How to keep yourself and your horse motivated in training
200 - ride - Group 3
300 - Beach Ride
400 - Head home

900 - arrive
915 - yoga
1030 - ride for video analysis
1230 - lunch / video analysis
130 - Connection and the training pyramid being "on the bit"
200 - ride - Group 1A and Group 2
300 - ride - Group 1B and Group 3
400 - party!!!

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. Your adult horse camp sounds like soooooo much fun! I want to do it :).

    There are always things to work on so don't get yourself down! Sky looks like a big fun horse to ride.

  2. Love seeing the pictures! :)

    I agree your camp sounds awesome- I want to come! haha!

  3. Sky is a lot of fun and definitely big! Camp was a blast on the first day!

  4. Saddles definitely make a difference. My trainer put me in her saddle before I bought my new one and I was like "okay jump jump what why is this so easy?" and yeah. My old saddle was just too small and not the right style and fit for me and what I was now doing. My new saddle has helped my position a ton- I completely forget its there, so I'm not fighting the tack anymore.

    And I have the same problem with my weak leg- I'm not very "effective" with my leg so when I ride a horse that needs more leg, I compromise my body position on the flat and over a jump. I've been trying to work on that (again, two point in short stirrups works wonders) but I still have far to go. I prefer horses that have their own motor and need just a little leg, but I know I need to work on my leg anyway. I feel like we have a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses in our riding so I like reading your blog and seeing you improve too!

    Also, I was going to say- just by looking at the pictures I can tell that horse is big and swingy and strong and probably pretty difficult to ride so I think you're doing a great job. The last picture looked great! Except you're doing what I always do- body is perfect and then you forget to release. George Morrison calls it the "no release" when you just plant your hands at the whither. I always thought "oh look I'm doing an auto release" --- fail ha. He dashed my dreams. I've been trying to work on that too. It's so hard to remember to do everything just right! But you have a good crest release in all of your other pictures so I know you'll get it all together and be fantastic! Adult camp sounds like a ton of fun!