Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Arena # 116 - This will go down on your permanent record...

I've been on a bit of a roll lately. That would be - too much going on + sleeping vs blogging? (sleeping wins) + blogging news build up. Work is crazy busy. There have been lots of visitors to entertain (I've sort of had a social life). As usual I haven't been in a rush to finish up my taxes... and gardening doesn't wait this time of year. I'm really happy that I'm getting rides in (and also frazzled). Hopefully things should calm down in a few weeks.


A new video camera is finally on the way (!), which means I won't have to fool with my little point and shoot much longer. And, I'll be able to take some video lessons. ('cause lord knows I need them) In the meantime, I caught a few minutes worth of Val and I schooling over the weekend. No editing capabilities til the new technology arrives - just sayin'...

Nothing so constructive as watching yourself ride. More accurate than looking at only the best pictures and remembering. ;)

1. While there is a straight line from the bit to my elbow, I need to shorten my reins. I failed to maintain steady contact (although it was better while I warmed up - isn't that always the case). Val is looking for it.

2. Fairly forward on the long sides but bogging down on the short side - overall we need more energy, (and more consistent rhythm). Inside leg to outside rein + more driving aid. It would be good to address this prior to entering the corners, otherwise it's too late.

3. Good circles. I think I can start working on some bend - inside rein (tiny) until I can just see Val's eye.

4. I'm not unhappy about my posting, but I'm way off to the left side of the saddle way too often. Any suggestions on a good exercise to counteract this tendency would be appreciated.

4. The flies were absolutely horrendous in the second video. Loads of the flies that hang around the sheath area. That's why the head tossing and uneven gait. Bug spray was completely ineffective. I cut the session short with some transitions as the insects were super distracting.

5. I need to go for it. There is no reason to be tentative.


  1. I just want to say gee thanks for getting the Violent Femmes stuck in my head. ;) What a beautiful day! Val looks very happy with his job - sorry I can't say anything more profound than that.

  2. Funder -

    No need to be profound. I've hesitated to put up video of my rides before because I don't want anyone to feel compelled...

    Sorry for the ear worm - I couldn't help myself. At least it wasn't Blister in the Sun. ;)

  3. I don't think I could have dealt with the bugs as long as you did. Your comments match your ride, although you a bit harsh with yourself. Go easy on yourself girl! It'll come. ...go for it!!

  4. Your self critque does match your ride.

    To answer your question about hanging to the left... first things that come to mind -
    1. Is your saddle straight. You mount from the left did you pull it off center.
    2. If you don't use your stirrups does your body straighten?
    3. Shorten your stirrups one hole see what happens? (I tend to over compensate my physical shortness on my right side by over weighting the right which looks like I'm hanging off the right - shortening my stirrups helped considerably)

  5. Cool videos!

    My instructor eyes are kicking in so I am feeling compelled to comment. ;)

    Check your left stirrup leather. It may have stretched if you (or whomever owned the saddle before) mount from the left side regularly. Putting it up a hole could be a simple fix.

    My instructor always has me practice torso rotations while trotting a circle. There is a short clip on my blog. This helps me stay straight in the saddle.

  6. You are so good to video and critique your rides!

    I would set up dressage markers and actually start doing a few of the dressage tests - mainly so you can forget about making the decisions from moment to moment about where to go/what to do next and focus on the rhythm and relaxation and your own goals in terms of position, etc.

    I often do a test, then use the entire arena to trot or canter to stretch things out, then come back to a test to add in some figures, etc. etc.

    That first trot down the long side I really liked a lot wrt energy.

    Re: being off to the left side of the saddle - I would focus on bringing your shoulders back and see if that helps - and maybe do a little work off and on w/o your left stirrup. Keep your right one and drop the left one and see what happens.

    And/or - take the reins in your right hand and put your left arm straight up in the air.

    So inspiring! I was thinking of video lessons just this week.

  7. Aren't video cameras an amazing thing? It has helped my riding a ton to be able to 'see' what I'm doing wrong! The two of you look great. And I love the VF reference. I'm gonna go listen to that tape...errr...I mean MP3 now.

  8. I just LOVE your horse!! :) I want to squeeze him. You two make a lovely pair and my only comment is more forward. More forward and more forward. He feets need to leave the ground quicker. I suspect that you feel like you are going forward because he has a nice big stride and covers ground (Ask me how I know!! lol I have the same issue!). Ask for more! He can do it and so can you! Quite a capable pair, IMHO. :)

  9. I was so excited to see Val videos that i stopped tacking a horse up to watch them!

    Don't be afraid to give him a thump w yOur legs every now and then tO remind him of the forward. You're absolutely right that the correction should be made BEFORE the corner, because once he's there and not going away from your leg you're stuck.

    Looking forward to lots more videos! Keep up the good work!

  10. I'm not a trainer so I'm not going to offer any advice. I think you and Val with work through any issues you have. Videos are great teaching tools for seeing where we are what we need to work on. Looking forward to watching you and Val in more videos.

    And I love that saying "This will go on your permanent record" I can't tell you how many times I was told that by teachers or principals at school. I would love to know just exactly where all those permanent records are and what they said!

  11. ha ha, now i have blister in the sun in my head too ;-)

    i think you've got a great foundation here and picked up on all the key areas to work on already. if i can add...

    (1-3) really nice with the rein and, as far as the consistency of rein contact, remembering to stay loose in your elbows and shoulders might help, and coming through the turns might help you keep your impulsion on the short sides too. when introducing bend on circles and turns, an opening inside rein is the easiest for maintaining contact and the least disruptive of pace :-)

    (4) when you lean left you are dropping your left hip down and back while your leg stays at the girth, which suggests you are bracing against that stirrup and pulling your saddle in that direction a bit. your right hip also rotates forward and right leg swings back behind the girth, creating a scissor effect which can upset your balance in other areas. there could be several reasons for this. sometimes it is just rider habit, sometimes it is compensation for crookedness in the horse's way of going, etc.

    one of the best ways to find out/correct this is to get on bareback, even if you just walk around, and see if the tendency is still there (it won't last long without a saddle to brace against.) if you're not comfortable with that, try dropping your stirrups or, at the very least, lifting your toes out of them and really posting from your knee and thigh with both legs down at the girth and ride a straight line. do you still want to tip to one side? if so a few minutes here and there of focused riding without stirrups will usually correct the problem :-)

    (5) definitely go for it! :-)

  12. I have to echo the "more forward" sentiments. He looks so calm and quiet and relaxed....but needs more energy...forward with PURPOSE! It must be a gray horse thing...I have the exact same thing going on when I ride Gabe.

    Otherwise you guys look fabulous together and that bareback riding has paid off, you definitely seem to be solid and secure in your seat.

  13. We all want to improve, but don't forget about all the things you're doing right. You and Val are in complete harmony. Look at his confidence and trust in you! No nervous worried horse here. Give yourself a big pat on the back.

  14. The videos look great, and they're so clear! I've been doing some videos of myself too but I have been putting the camera so far away that they're not really helping. I need to put my camera more in a location like yours.

    I agree that Val needs to be more forward, but he looks so relaxed and happy! You both look great, and I agree... GO FOR IT! :)

  15. I just love my blogging friends. ☺☺☺!

    Regarding video, I was worried about putting myself out there, and frankly Val and I have had better sessions. My first reaction when I watched these videos was disappointment.

    Your supportive responses make me realize this was after all a good idea. Thanks for the valuable feedback and suggestions. ♡

  16. Hey congratulations on the video camera...and the bravery to put yourself out there...and the insightful self-critique.

    I love seeing Val stretching forward into the contact. And I really love your comment about how you have to address your tempo and bend before the corner or it's too late.

    It's so much easier to address a potential problem -- loss of bend, loss of balance, loss of impulsion -- in a gentle way with seconds to spare, rather than to correct a problem once it happens.

    Once you know your horse, and you know your horse's patterns and responses, you can always be preparing for what's coming up while you're riding what you have.

    What an inspirational post.

  17. I love videos. Thanks for putting it up. Loved seeing him trot down the long side with the relaxed swinging tail. Good job! You have some great comments. My only suggestion would be to shorten your reins and ask Val to accept the contact and step under himself, as you're asking for more forward. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to more videos with your new camera.

  18. Okay, so you are my soul sister - we are working on so many of the same things! I joke with Christy that I have trouble patting my head and rubbing my tummy - i.e. doing it 'all' at once. Then she reminds me that life is much easier when the horse is forward. And she's right.

    I have to continually work on those forward gears and getting him in front of my leg. Christy keeps reminding me that I'm training him with every ride, so if I accept a less than crisp response, I've essentially rewarded that response.

    Anyway, it's great to see video of you two. Val is such a handsome and strapping fellow! I love seeing a big, burly TB. :) Looks like you're both enjoying that new saddle too.

  19. HIYA C!!
    Wonderful, wonderful getting to see you ride on your video!
    Val is just the best relaxed and even. Is the heat a downer??
    Thanks for that... glimpse of you two in relaxed harmony! Cool stuff in the comments as a response to your questions. Really good observations and some handy advise from the trainers.

    Today, as I was posting in my bareback saddle, I remembered something my sissy taught me that is harder to do for sure bareback, but worthy so as not to use my knees- "Hips before shoulders".
    It truly helps one not to lean forward and opens up your pelvis for more forward movement from the horse. You have to be balanced to do it.
    Try that, with "Forward" in mind. it feels really good.

    Other than that ere mentioned thought from today's ride, I couldn't add any more than what already is said by everyone else.
    I too thought, checking Stirrup leather lengths off the saddle, was a smart tip..they do stretch.
    Oh and , maybe changing your posting diagonal, on some circles, to the inside leg, of track right..if the length of the leathers is not it. It may help you to weight your right .

    LOVED this C! You are the best to share! Inspiring!

  20. Great video! I need to figure out how to use my video camera so I can take videos of me riding. They're very helpful.

    I think you are spot on in your assessment, too: More Forward!

    Right now, you're struggling against him and fighting for your position every step of the way. He needs to carry you, not the other way around. He has to start using his hind-end and pushing forward so that can happen. Once he starts carrying himself and you I bet you'll find that a lot of your issues disappear.

    I lean left badly. This is how I fix it: I turn my head to the right, looking over my right shoulder. As I look right, I can feel my spine straighten and my shoulders and hips level out. I breathe in, cement that feeling in my mind, then bring just my head back to center while breathing out. Repeat ad-nauseum ;)

  21. My children were wreaking havoc when I commented this morning, I forgot to add something:

    Your rhythm and relaxation are great! You are definitely on the right track and doing a great job. The next steps on the Training Scale are contact and impulsion. You've laid a great foundation, and Val is ready for it!

  22. Man, you got some knowledge in the comments here! The only thing I would ask is if one of your legs is stronger than the other, cause that could pull you off balance. Do some one-legged squats and find out.

  23. Just fascinating and I applaud you putting a video up ... one that you weren't happy with. The advice seems wonderful and I'm sure I will benefit from it as well. I haven't really had a horse for over 20 years and got mine this past summer. Dressage riding is a whole new thing for this Western gal and I find myself blushing every time I post! But I am told I have nice seat and am centered well so perhaps I can build upon that.

    I think you guys look great and just need practice and feedback. Your gelding is a TB? (read the above post) Oh, how I wish they still looked more like this... We have one at our barn that I think the wind might blow away.


I love, love, love my readers, and knowing that you've stopped by - it really makes my day.

However, to avoid the new illegible blogger word verification, I've added comment moderation. Lesser of two evils.

Please don't let this stop you - keep those comments coming!! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...