Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tomatoe, tomato

I am not a hugger.

The thought of wrapping my arms around another is not my idea of a happy social exchange (a hand-shake will suffice, thank you!). But, the things I've been learning with Bonspiel is the way he prefers to communicate--particularly important for our right sides. Unfortunately for us, we are both weaker on the right side and need work and focus. Meet my new buddy, Bonspiel:

A photo posted by Deborah (@my_examined_life) on

Sheri told me I was gonna work; I wasn't working hard enough and that was the problem. We're talking not hard at all apparently. Horseback riding isn't easy no matter what non-riders will yap about. It's also (as riders know) not so much about what you do with your hands as it is your seat and/or legs.

First, warm-up require more transitional work and bending lines to get us warmed up properly and limber. Exercises like alternating walk to trot, each with a known number of steps while being as precise as possible as well as keeping our impulsion at each transition is key. With a horse like Bonspiel, when things don't go right, it's very clear that it's the rider's botch up because he is trained impeccably to do exactly what he's told. If you don't get that canter just right, that's the your fault. WOMP WOMP. Other exercises include balancing at the trot in a standing position without using our stirrups as crutches and focusing on actual lower leg support to steady ourselves.

It's reiterated that with this horse, it's about support with your legs at every step. "He needs it", Sheri tells me, "you gotta hug and support him so he can do it right. Otherwise you're just dropping him and that's why he falls out of (in this case) the canter". As I pointed out earlier, I'm not a hugger, but I have to learn to 'hug' with my legs--from my thigh to the lower leg without pinching at the knee while maintaining a fluidity through the hip and back. At first I don't really get what she means but when we canter around both in the whole arena and the 20m circle, it is evident when I "drop" him: we see that my right thigh actually is the culprit and that is the part of my leg hug that is dropping Bonspiel and not giving him support to continue to canter around. I do test the comment and pay attention to my leg position and notice that he immediately drops from canter (at the right) when I lose momentary contact with him at the thigh. Unfortunately,  my movement with him isn't 100% and in the canter movement where he is moving down and forward, I am already moving back on "up".

These are all things I had difficulty with when I was riding Ariel and still sorting out what it meant to rider her proficiently. I am seeing that while these two horses require a different "touch", some things will remain constant. I figure it's like learning a language but understanding the different "accents" of those speakers.


  1. ha calling it a 'hug' is much nicer terminology than what one of my trainers likes to say ("break their ribs with your legs!" is kinda... rough haha). Bons is adorable tho - hope you have a lot of fun with him!

    1. lol. nice. i guess that would be another way to look at it. ;)

  2. "Hugs" are the best ;) Sounds like Bons has a lot to teach you- that's the thing I miss about riding different horses is figuring out just what they need to do well!

    1. hahaha! only in the capacity of riding. ;)
      it certainly teaches you a lot! i am learning so much riding bons.