Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lesson #39: Alignment and Balance

The weather's been all over the map lately and today's no different. The weather network told me that it's supposed to thunder shower all over the place but that didn't happen. ADW and I get to Greyden to ride today--me for my biweekly and ADW to make up his Friday lesson. I'm scheduled to ride Nikki and I have the usual reservations because the last few times I rode Nikki, I was quite frustrated; she would do a pony trot when getting into canter and also had this intense desire disregard my commands. I am determined to overcome the dread that I get when I ride this little pony that innocently destroys my confidence. I told myself, today is going to be different because I'm going to go in there with the right attitude and be firm with her.

When we arrive, I find Nikki in one of the paddocks with the other small pony, Honey (she's so cute! and sounds like a sheep) and I wade through the muck to get to her while she just chews. No, not come over to me... not at all... standing there and watching me while eating. LOL. Go figure with these animals ;)

In addition to ADW and I, my buddy Han came out to ride today as his first lesson to learn to ride. He just had a major dragon boat regatta yesterday and is probably feeling pretty tired today. He's riding Aspen.

Nikki is mucky and dirty so after sponging the muck off, I continue to squeegee the excess water off and prepare for tack up. Since the weather is kind of unpredictable, we plan to ride indoors. The indoor ring is substantially smaller than the outdoor one but at least it's dry. Lenka has us warm up with the usual trot... posting to start and moving to seated trot. Today's seated trot is a little more comfortable than usual. I focus on deepening the seat and maintaining the weight in the heels. I recall some of the things that we did last time and I remind myself about my heel alignment and overall "classical seat".

To work on balance and proper seat position, we are given a simple exercise (during trot) of rising 2 beats and sitting 2 beats. Let me tell you... it's tough! The pivotal balance points are so fine that if you literally are out of alignment for just a bit, nothing works! I try to remember to look up and forward as well as putting the weight into my heels. One of the bigger challenges for me, in the indoor ring is keeping my eyes up and forward because there is really nothing to look at except the wall.

To continue on proper alignment and thus balance, the next exercise we get into is one where we combine the half seat position and 2-point while riding over trot poles. This is tough to do too! A half seat is new to me but it is essentially when your back bum bones are out of the saddle with light contact of the pelvis (need further clarity about this since I think I might have missed a nuance or two). 2-point is all about balance so it's tough to do for a long while especially if you don't get the alignment just right.

We work into the canter next and I do have some reservations about the fast pony trot that I've experienced in the past. We go from walk to trot to canter. I wonder if Nikki is capable of skipping trot because I think Indy and a few of the other horses might be able to do so. Anyways, today's canter is going really well!! I have to say, the several times we had the opportunity to take off into the canter, Nikki's been quick and I don't have to kick (and scream inside) and add enthusiastic use of the crop. In fact, I didn't use a lot of crop today at all. Even to get her started, I just lightly nudge her through my lower leg and add some verbal encouragement and off she goes. I'm very pleased with her today.

The last exercise we do is canter half the ring and then trot for one letter and come to a full halt. The slowing down transition is tough because it requires me to sit back and I have a tendency to pitch forward--thereby pushing her to continue to move forward. I try to remember to sit back and tall because it also means there's less of "potato sack Deb" up there.

The major "issue" I encountered with Nikki today was in canter when we were making a specific turn where she was cutting the corner. Lenka pointed out that I tend to drop my shoulder which then gets Nikki off balance and she drops her shoulder and then we end up cutting a corner and leave Deb a hot mess (literally). We try several times to correct this and during one turn, she does a deek and I almost fall off. Big exasperated and embarrassed -_______-' . We try for another correction and go back around and she reminds me to sit up straight with chest open shoulders back with a reminder for her to keep left of the pylons.

Success :)


  1. Honey maybe cute but she is EVIL! Nikki is a weird one, I've never ridden her because I'm too big but I've seen many people ride her and shes not easy. I'd also account part of her weirdness to being inside when she instinctively wants to be outside. and a little grooming tip, getting the dirt wet is a bad idea, always just curry it off :P getting it wet makes it worse I find.

    Dont be embarrassed about almost falling. You will fall and its totally normal. :) I couldn't tell you all the times I've fallen! LOL. dont give up! you have gotten so much better! :)

    1. lol! really? i didn't expect that of honey b/c she's so darned cute and sounds like a sheep. she and nikki seem to be pretty good friends. nikki does certainly enjoy being outside vs indoors... but she was so mucky and wet!

      thanks for the words of encouragement :) it's easy to forget but as the old adage goes, "get back on that horse".

  2. I actually liked doing the 2-point exercises even though my inner legs are still a bit sore today!

    I also thought you looked good on Nikki, finally got her moving!

    1. 2point is great for balance in general because literally, if you're off a smidge, you're off balance and likely to fall over.

      i'm so glad i got nikki moving... because normally she's so picky with me...