Wednesday night wasn’t all about major breakthroughs. Trainer AB has a sneaky way of throwing in little tiny details that make major changes in the way I ride and I don’t want to lose sight of those in the bigger picture of the lesson as a whole.
One of the earliest and biggest changes happened during the brief warm up. She is always saying to Own The Outside of him which is super important as he likes to bulge in forever and always. However, I can be quite literal when taking instruction so this led to me uh…nearly running into the fence in my turns.
Trainer AB easily corrected this with one of her patented (by me anyway) little gems. She told me that while I do need to own his outside, I do actually need to use my inside rein to direct him, but when I would abandon my outside and use the inside, he would predictably bulge inward and I’d feel unbalanced and like I was motorcycling around.
So she told me to a) start my turn way earlier, b) use the inside rein as a turn aide through the first half of the turn only and finally c) go back to my outside rein half way through the turn to rebalance and complete it.
And wouldn’t you know it but we had the most balanced corners I’ve ever gotten. It was a fun little tool to play around with as we went around and made a huge difference in his ability to maintain pace and balance through the corners.
Her next piece of helpful advice came in the canter poles exercise. I love a short approach. This comes from my Gem days. Riding a twisting, turning pretzel was difficult so I would eliminate most of her ability to contort herself by cramming her at things on the shortest approach possible. This has carried over to Eeyore and is apparently the exact opposite of what he needs.
When I’d let him trot too long and picked up the canter right before the first pole, he’d be strung out and take a flyer over the poles.
If, instead, I got him cantering down the entire long side, through the corner and into the poles, he would be more packaged up and take the exercise smoother. We had our baubles and at times chipped in or got long, but overall with a much longer approach he performed a lot better.
No more cramming for me I suppose.
And last she called me out on my posting. I have mentioned to her that I seem to start out at a nice trot rhythm but as we go on it tends to get faster and faster and every horse I ride does this so it is for sure a me thing. As I was going around she, in her infinitely wise way, pin pointed the issue. When I post I barely flirt with the saddle. I go up and come down with my butt grazing the saddle instead of actually sitting in it with weight. When she told me to actually sit deeper, Eeyore responded by slowing down. This is extremely hard for me to do right now. I have to constantly remind myself to actually sit in the down which should seem easy, but ugh. This is a habit that has been ingrained over thousands of miles of trotting. Homework for sure.