The last few rides I've had have all been focused on making little improvements. More straightness here, longer legs, steadier hands ... etc. I know better contact is something everyone is always working on, so I thought I'd share my thoughts over the last week!
A Better Seat = Better Hands, or The Draped Leg
In my quest to improve my seat, I've been working on getting my legs to drape quietly down my horse's sides, with gentle pressure at the calf, and toes forward. This is pretty tough for me, as I'm naturally inclined to be a toe-out rider with a deep heel (should'a done jumpers). When forcing my heel down, I tend to a chair seat. As a result, I swing my legs unnaturally backwards when pushing my horse forward. Can you say "awkward?"
What have I been doing to help with this? Well, Nancy gave me a great tip: "Think about weighting the big toe." This pulls your toe forward and rotates the leg straight under you with the calf on. It's brilliant. It's amazing. It only works when your stirrup isn't jammed on your foot like you're trying to shove your whole leg through.
Contact Comes Through an Elastic Elbow, or Stop Riding Like a Chicken
I ride like a chicken. My elbows shoot away from my body and bob up an down like I'm reenacting this famous scene from Arrested Development:
What have I been working on? Keeping my damn elbows in, obviously! One tip I read recently suggested trying to hold gloves between your elbows and your hips. The suggester (is that a word?) mentioned tying the gloves to your waist with twine, as you will lose them. Probably a lot. I haven't done this humiliating thing yet (Be surprised. I am the girl whose instructor tied her feet together under her pony so she'd stop winging her legs out. Yep. Totally safe, that one.), but I might. So far, just imagining this has been working solidly for me.
That's all, folks! Just two things. Get out there! Report back to me! Do these work for you? Are you too awesome to use my tips? Are you currently at IEA complaining about my handwriting?
(One last note: Read this article. It's an amazing write up on balancing real life with horses, whether a pro or an amateur. Really a must read.)