Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lesson #173: Mind Over Matter

Spring is here! Or at least we're getting real peeks into it. I was tempted to go on a hack on Sunday but when we got there, we're told J is teaching... usually J is the one we go on a hack with anyway but we discover that he broke his hand and is probably pretty sore from a bad fall during one of his jumper lessons with his coach. It sounded pretty messy and has reaffirmed my desire to keep things low key. He basically went left when his horse went right.

J's lessons are much different than Sheri's because he's just not as technical as she is. He's more about feel and experience. Both have the basics down but riding dressage for Sheri has her mind-set in a more technical area just because that's part of what is required to ride dressage anyway.

The objective today is course work. I have been starting our walking warm ups with loosening my hips and alternating my legs with Ariel's movement and I find that this helps and is certainly becoming more second nature. I wanted to get into a normal posting trot but Ariel decided she was more comfortable with a long and low trot so we started there instead.

We also rode with another young student who rides beautifully. I love to see when the more capable younger kids ride because it's such an inspiring thing to see. We all get into canter and go round several times and then get straight into our jumping. The course work is set up so that we build into the final course by taking one jump at a time to ensure our position is good and we are comfortable with the height. As I said, J's not as technical. This gives me the opportunity to aim for what he has asked but remember all the "tools" that Sheri has been giving me the last few weeks about seat and weight shifting. I am also becoming better at feeling when Ariel's pace is slowing or speeding up. And I certainly have to ride her body more than anything else because she's all wobbly and will bend and flex as she feels comfortable.

At least Deb is aware of what's going on now... --Ariel

The first jump was a ground pole with 3 strides into an X. I was our test guinea pig and was asked to do it at the canter. Usually Sheri works up to the canter because I continue to have the same faults about riding too far on Ariel's forehand so it is beneficial to take it slower. But it wasn't miserable and so I have to remember to focus on all the things that are my faults.

We work on adding more jumps and it goes from a ground pole with 3 strides into an X to a line with 2 Xs, then adding another X on the other side and then the second X in the line changed to a vertical. Finally, it became an X into a vertical and ended on a X. My faults remain the same... but this time, I do realize something... that the curling over onto Ariel's forehand is something that is actually second nature and if I don't consciously think about it, that's what I end up doing, instead of sitting up. It's not a matter of capability... but it literally is mind over matter.

This is very evident when I approach the first jump riding while sitting up but as soon as I land, I'm already curled over. It then becomes tricky for Ariel to gain balance appropriately and I notice we zoom around the arena coming out of it. It makes sense that she's trying to compensate for my balancing on her front so we both don't go over her head!

And here's a first for +ADW! He was asked to canter the line for the first time. Not to shabby considering he's never done it before. Hooray for firsts!


  1. I found that using both technical thinking and feel helps. I always love it when I can ride with someone else so I can watch and learn from them.

    1. i totally agree! you can't have just one without the other :)
      watching good riders is always awesome. they do exatly what they have to... make what they're doing look easy.

  2. it's definitely all about mind over matter - i think that's why it can be so difficult to get into a good position!

    1. for sure! if i let my body just do its thing, it comes out way funny. but, the second i tell one part to do this or another to do that, it often comes together!