Today myself, Shabby and Emma are sharing with you the struggles with corners, straightness and relaxation. If you ride a sensitive horse with balance issues, suppleness issues and/or one who worries about connection with the bit at any moment of a simple challenge like bend/corner/transition, you might see the difficulties Emma is having and appreciate her efforts to sit better to help her horse.
If you are only starting out with a similar horse I would really encourage you to spend some time on a very basic work, quiet uneventful work that allows the horse to find his own balance, rhythm and relaxation with rider on board (ideally in a light seat especially if the horse, like Shabby, has a tendency to brace through his back, shoulders and the neck) as well as on the lunge without any gadgets but with your helpful presence.
If you skip that phase, you are likely to have similar issues to Emma’s with Shabby and it can be very frustrating, disheartening and sometimes impossible to eradicate those issues once you are already competing the horse.
Lesson part 2
In the video below you see Emma working through a simple exercise made up of poles that create a corner and a plastic cup that gives the rider an idea where they should not be going 🙂
I chose this exercise because I am working on “switching on” Emma’s seat skills – she is an experienced rider but 99% of the time she rides horses that you might call speed boats! They are so in front of the leg it’s way too much for it to have any positive effect schooling wise and they don’t accept the contact in a calm, trustworthy manner i.e. they have no idea about basic throughness. They are either off the track or horses other people didn’t manage to deal with for one reason or another.
This exercise might suit you if you too are very quiet, non confrontational rider who needs to realise you can make a big difference to the horse’s way of going.
It might be also helpful if, like Emma, you have a good feel for what’s happening underneath you but for one reason or another, you just don’t act on that feel.
Main points we worked on during the session
– upper body control
– early planning of all movements
– feeling the horse with whole body and acting on that feel to help him remain straighter and calmer
– keeping the trot at a speed in which Shabby is most accepting and calm
– staying independent of Shabby’s brace-brace moments (which makes the rider feel like sitting in a hammock), avoiding backward traction of the hand when they happen and encourage him to reach forward through his neck
– outside aids control in order to turn straight into the corner and ride straight out of the corner
Tomorrow, I will describe in more detail what you can do with this set up and will share variants of goals that the riders can set themselves in this exercise depending on their level of experience and skill set.