Friday, April 17, 2015

Lesson #170: Leading with my Behind

During the warm-up for my lesson I focus on swinging my hips and alternating leg pressure to follow Ariel's body as she walks, to open up her walk. The arena is set up with 3 Xs lined up at D, X and G. The first exercise is trotting a figure 8 over the middle X. Since the exercise has us changing the rein on each loop of the 8, I really am forced to assess what's happening when we turn. Immediately, we noticed that as I am approaching X and pushing onto the right rein, Ariel does a funny drift with her shoulder; she's counter flexing as if she's going straight and drifting into the right turn as opposed to flowing into it with slight flexion. It happens again and Sheri tells me to step into my right stirrup just a smidge as I am going over the X. That works. We discover that I am myself, unbalanced going over so even though my eyes and head are turning, my seat isn't telling her that. She takes the middle X down and leaves it as a ground pole.

We continue and the exercise is made more difficult: I get off the rail and go over the two Xs at each end. The exercise is the small jump while turning and changing lead. I have to continue to push my weight down on the right side when  making that right turn. Sheri adds that I have to include the proper preparation with my legs too. We went through this exercise for the better part of the lesson with the focus on getting the turns to flow at the trot, as well as the jumping position over the Xs. Easier said than done! It's pretty rapid fire going like that and I have to keep Ariel at the trot and not speed off into the canter.

The last exercise is to get on bareback and continue the same exercise. *ugh*. We start at the walk... and then move into the trot *gulp* over the middle pole. At the walk, I was able to discover that I actually grip with my left butt when I turn right--which gives Ariel incorrect signals! I had no idea.... So now it's a matter of not doing that even though it's become quite second nature.

Oooo shake what yo' mama gave ya!

That exercise is finished up and Sheri tells me, finish the lesson on a completely loose rein and guide Ariel only by your seat. Ariel and I zig zag around the arena with my seat bones dropping into the seat, to tell here where we want to go. I use little leg and zero hands and focus only on dropping the appropriate seat bone. There is a fine balance here... because my hips and legs need to be in the maximum open relaxed position, to actually cause an impact. When my legs crawl forward a bit and I start "sitting more" on Ariel, she completely ignores me (more like has no idea what I'm asking of her). I literally have to shift my weight back down my heels and re-drape my legs over her back.

With some more practice, I end the lesson with the ability to turn Ariel at the walk, in a 10m circle with just my seat. Definitely learning so much!


  1. you're gonna have legs of steal with all this bareback riding!

    1. right??! it's really intense and i'm definitely feeling it the next days... i still lack the balance to keep going round and round but it's getting there! my next goal is the trot on bareback without apprehension.