Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lesson #46: Magic Moment

Aug 9, 2013

ADW and I had another semi-private lesson and today, I ride Indy. I haven't ridden Indy for a while. The only difference this time was that Sheri was doing some stuff with one of her horses, Bons, and a student. So, during warming up, she was riding him around; and it was incredible to watch her do her dressage magic. Her seat is amazingly awesome and just the way she looks as a rider... we're both blown away. I definitely want to get tickets to watch the dressage competitions at the Pan Am Games.

We had the space today so spent most of our time working on the gaits--particularly the canter. We warm-up with the trot and Sheri tells us to lengthen the stride. I read up on it after I came home and see that there are quite a few aids that a rider should do to get a horse to lengthen their trot; we are not at this level of skill yet. In addition, the horse is generally trained to do this. To overly simplify, we merely extend the 'up' part of the post a fraction longer. I don't think I'm quite successful but trying certainly gave me the chance to get a feel for my balance and forward impulsion.

I am finding that the weight that needs to go down through my heels are starting to sink down some more but I also continue to work on the proper leg contact with the horse's body and saddle. My lower leg still flaps about sometimes but I try to wrap around their body and have the proper alignment with heels, hips and head. While doable for short spurts, doing any of this for a longer duration is a tricky endeavour and I find myself tiring quickly and thus reverting to "bad habits". It also continues to be tricky once the gaits increase from a walk.

We trot a few more times in both directions and then we move to the canter. Sheri says that the canter is what we'll work on because there is enough space with just the two of us. So, from walk, we ask our horses to gear up to canter and take a burst as long as we can handle. Indy has been more and more difficult to get started in lessons so I find myself pushing him a lot, to get him forward thinking. I notice that my balance is much better than it used to be and I'm able to coordinate my alignment when he's taking turns.

I focus on getting my leg alignment in the right place in canter because I am finding that my heels are lifting a bit when riding and it thus throws my balance off. I also notice that Indy is a bit unsure of himself sometimes and if I am not clear about what I want, he guesses and doesn't appear to be very good at guessing appropriately. Sheri reminds me to focus on getting my leg alignment in the right place with proper contact. I had some trouble getting him started prior to this reminder and I notice that the instant I have proper leg alignment and the appropriate contact with his body, he takes off exactly as I need him to and doesn't hesitate or guess incorrectly.

It's a "eureka" moment that provides an immense amount of clarity about how to apply my aids to Indy (and any other horse, for that matter). But, it isn't easy. My leg muscles continue to be conditioned with each lesson to develop closer and closer to what is considered ideal. I had just a glimpse of what wonderful magic can happen when I am suddenly talking the right language with the proper pronounciation, to Indy. Now to work on the endurance and flexibility to really drive it home.


  1. I love your description of about "talking the right language with the proper pronounciation." I think that really sums up what we are trying to do at the canter!

    1. yup! i'm taking french in my spare time so i've noticed that when you have the wrong pronounciation (and my ear is still off so i can't always tell), you say something totally different! it's like muddling through something and THINKING you got it but realizing that the listener is give you looks of confusion. in my french class this week, i told them that "i cooked germans"; i meant "i cooked food". *sigh*

  2. so it's like exercising your tongue to be able to make the right sounds!

    1. yep. it's literally minor inflections. like when you're trying to learn mandarin and how you think you just said one thing but i heard something completely different.