Monday, July 15, 2013

Lesson #40: Inner Thighs Burning

Friday's lesson started out as most do: with some trot warm-ups. I had my new crop in hand from Greenhawk and was ready to really get things going. Last time I rode Aspen, we seemed to connect well and when I asked him to do something, he got right along. Last time, I remembered to bring a crop with me right away and was firm with what I wanted and if leg aids didn't work, it was straight to the crop. I do tend to be less forceful and perhaps consistent with what I want but I was determined that this time, I would go full out and be firm with him because the previous Sunday's lesson was me on Nikki and we were going pretty well because I decided to be firm with her and use the crop right from the instance I felt she wasn't listening to me.

So, Aspen was speeding around and I was in good condition too! And today was one of those evenings where I didn't pay enough attention to the posting diagonals and Sheri caught me time and again--DRAT! It's not that I don't know what a diagonal is... but that I wasn't paying enough attention to check to be sure I was doing it right everytime.

When my mom rode during the Mother's Day ride, she told me that she wasn't used to the "rocking side to side" that the horse's body did when they walked. And when we cool down with bareback, we get a feeling for the way their bodies move underneath us. When I was on the incorrect diagonal, I took notice of how I was feeling... and it felt like I was being bounced off the saddle each time I sat in the seat and like I was being bounced right out when I was rising. However, when I switched to the correct diagonal, this feeling went away. Now, it's the first time I've noticed this so perhaps it's just me but I'm going to check it out during our next trot to see if this is that "feeling" that Sheri was saying that you can learn to develop eventually.

Sheri gives each of us some individual attention to help us further refine our leg position. She shows us the proper leg position while riding to give us an idea of what we should be aiming for. She tells us that there is good firm contact of inner thigh to the flap of the saddle and firm contact with our half chaps against their bodies with ankles relaxed yet strong (?) and so the weight can be dropped down through there. None of this "grip" should be death grip and it is a nice firm placement on these areas mentioned--like enough to hold a bill in place and not suffocate our equine friend. It is possibly the most unusual position I have ever felt. When we walk, stand or even sit, we never get into this position; it just doesn't happen. So, to work on this position while developing the proper inner thigh muscles (and others), it's and incredible amount of hard work! If anyone tells me that riding a horse is easy, I would laugh at them and tell them to get on a horse and show me what they got.

In addition to this, the few lessons with Lenka have been helping me improve my seat and thus work on improving my classical seat. Sheri has commented that my heels look better and thus my weight distribution is getting better and balance is a touch easier. The funny thing is that it feels like I'm actually leaning forward when I get myself better into this position. But I'm told that I don't appear to be in a bizarre alignment so I'll take that!

We finish up the last part of the lesson working on canter and cavaletti jumps. It's great that the sand is dry so I don't feel like the horse is sliding around. Aspen and I are also able to get into the canter from walk now so it only takes a couple strides before he's in full canter and we can dash around the arena. In this case, taking the jump on the proper angle is important. It's kind of like turning a car in that if you turn too early, you might end up on the curb and if you turn too late, you've missed your lane entirely! And, Aspen is sensitive to the amount of pressure I put on his mouth to turn so it doesn't take much and I have to remember to look when I want to turn so he's prepared for it too.

I'd say that the area I'm going to focus on is proper leg position since it's just so unusual but so key to being properly seated on the horse.

7 comments:

  1. Proper riding position is actually really tiring! I don't think I've done other activities that have worked out my inner thighs as much as horse riding.

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    1. totally! i think a lot of our exercises derive from cavalry training.

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  2. You'll get used to the pain, and soon it will go away. It took me so long to learn my posting diagonals. I was always told when the inside goes back you post or the outside goes back you sit and it was all the same thing just said in different ways that really confused me. now i just no to look for the outside leg to go forward and I know I should be up. Sheri still catches us all messing up from time to time. When you start riding the same horse it gets easier to feel though and then you wont need to look. Your jumping was amazing, you had great distances and a great position! Aspen is old and hard to get going but you made him work and you looked great!

    Andrew - You really got it together once you started singing in your head! Row your boat is boring but it honestly is the perfect rhythm. Nifty has a problem with chipping in so all winter Sheri had my whole class sing it to me everytime I went to a fence or cantered LOL. Try and find a song in a genre you like with a similar tempo though, it helps. Now I always sing "Honkytonk Badonkadonk" by Trace Adkins because I like country music and Sheri always tells me to stick my bum out! aha, it really helps.

    All four of you have improved so much from when you started out and its incredible to watch you guys grow. Horses will change your life forever! :)

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    1. my thighs are still sore today :P and the posting diagonals i haven't always gotten a feel yet... and the way that you mention to look at the outside leg is good enough! all the other "methods" only confuse me :S

      i love riding aspen--he's wonderful. i do wish that asthma/cough/allergy would stop though b/c i feel bad when he's wheezing and huffing after a canter stint. otherwise he's hilarious and i adore him! ever since i started riding aspen, whenever i see a white horse/pony, i get excited.

      i'm glad to hear that you think my position and distances are good! i love riding more than anything else that i have ever done. i don't know why i waited so long to pick it up again.

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    2. row row row your boat is great for keeping rhythm! I'm old-school so I'll probably stick to it...

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  3. oh my, my comment is nearly as long as your entire post :P sorry!

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    1. no worries! i love getting comments anyways :)

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