We were soon interrupted by a visitor, one of my landscaping clients, who dropped by to pick up a load of Val's Super Dirt (composted manure). After a quick tour and filling his buckets, we chatted. I thought that the clouds of mosquitos would keep the conversation brief...
It turns out that my client was very well placed in the banking world before his semi-retirement. If his palatial beach "cottage" is any indication, this is true. He gave me lots of encouragement about my plans for the property, and offered to be a resource to help find financing when it comes time to build my house. This will be a fair exchange for my
Once the grounds keeping chores were completed, I threw Val a few flakes of his new hay. I gave up on forcing him to eat the last bales of this winter's hay. For a week now he's pushed it around, stomped on it and yesterday dropped a pile and peed on it. I got the hint. With him munching in his stall, I dragged the ring.
Apprehension built as I rode around. I try always to have a positive attitude, but falling off the other day just sucked. I had, after a long time, gotten to the point that I was excited to ride again. I looked forward to it. Ending our sessions was disappointing - I wanted to just keep on riding. We were finally working on the canter for heavens sake. My fall set me back six months confidence-wise.
By now it was hot enough and I was sweaty enough to make pulling on my breeches challenging. As I groomed and tacked up, I focused on my breathing, as well being a stickler for Val staying put. At first I had to physically touch him, but as we moved along all it took was a step towards him to make the correction. My experience has been that Val starts out with small tests of my leadership. If I let those go, it escalates under saddle. Things go more smoothly when I patiently correct him, as many times as is necessary, on the ground.
We worked on the buckle for quite a while. Forward seemed to have gone out the window. We had to do lots of transitions to get Val moving off my leg at all. It's likely that I may have been asking for forward with my aids, but saying not forward with my posture.
I could feel the negative impact the fall had on my body, as it took forever before my whole seat was down in the saddle, not perching. I used to think that perching was more like being in two point... your butt physically out of contact with the saddle. Yesterday I (finally) realized that you can perch with your seatbones and pubic bone too, while technically being on the saddle. If your butt muscles aren't relaxed, it's not possible for your "triangle" to be in contact. My not being on my seat is the main reason I fell off.
The revelations about seatbones continued. While focusing on maintaining outside rein contact through the turns, I zoned in on the outside seatbone as well. Our turns were better balanced and deeper when I really felt my outside seatbone. I'm not sure if this meant that both seatbones were finally equal, or if more weight was on the outside, but the results were good.
Now on to the main event. We got our act together enough, that I decided to ask for the trot. In out most recent rides since working on the canter, I've been getting canter departs when asking for the trot. This is exactly what we were working on when I fell off last week. My first ask resulted in the canter. I let it go a few strides, and returned to the walk. I made sure I was not holding my breath, not anticipating cantering, and asked again - this time with very little aid - instead visualizing the tempo and feel of the trot. Voila! Perfect relaxed trot transition.
Kate at A Year with Horses has been such an inspiration to me. Her thorough and honest assessments of her riding never fail to resonate. Lately she has been posting about softness, bracing, and how the quality of aiding can either lead to softness, or result in bracing.
Struggling with the trot transitions yesterday helped me realize I had been way over aiding, because when I just literally thought the trot - no leg, no voice and no whip - I got the most beautiful soft transition. I'm sure now that my over aiding + perching + bracing resulted in Val being confused about what I was asking of him lately... "When she gets all bent out of shape like this - I'm supposed to canter!"
I hugged my horse, told him what a gooooood boy he is, and ended the ride there, on a very positive note.
|preferable to working...|
|also preferable to working...|