Friday, August 2, 2013

Noticing Trends: Elbows

One of the best routines I've implemented in my riding this year has been the writing of "3 Things" at the end of every ride. Sometime between dismounting my horse and crawling into bed, I boot up "Day One" on my phone to write up a list of at least three things that apply to my ride. These things can vary widely. Here are some recent examples:
July 30: "Working the Stretchy Trot: Remember to Sit up! Stop letting your legs swing all over the place when you post. Keep the rein pressure the same as when you sit, stop moving your hands so much with your posting."
July 28: "It seems that some right rein contact issues are stemming from Pig feeling blocked at the shoulder. Look further into this when in the ring ... "
July 27: "Whoa, bad day for contact. Finally managed some decent working after doing approximately 1,000,000 turns on the haunches."

What I like most about this process is reading back through my posts for the last week or so and seeing what I've continually highlighted as a problem or thought point. Over the last week, what's been trending highly is how nicely Guinness softens into my hand when I manage to keep my elbows close to my sides, and really ride with the contact through them. As my core stability starts to become second nature, the problem of the elbow flailing is taking further prominence.

For the last couple of rides (exactly two, as I came down with a bad case of the near-death-allergy-attacks this week), I've keep these wayward elbows of mine at the top of my mind, figuring out their place in the Guinness and I's growing lexicon.

It seems I was right. Without my elbows right at my sides, I cannot properly carry my contact through my back and absorb it kindly. Elbows bowed out breaks the line, and all the contact ends up in my forearm.

I don't know about you, but my forearm isn't terribly flexible.
Guinness would like to add that he agrees with me. Forearms are not flexible.
Ugh. So, to the right my flailing elbow has been allowing my contact to bounce around on my forearm, which is hard for me to detect if I'm not paying close attention. Elbow in solves the problem without any other position changes.

Now? I need to develop this into muscle memory, and reestablish Guinness' trust in my right rein. Right now, he's taking 3x the amount of inside left leg to finally settle into the contact on that side. The moment my elbow shifts slightly, he's back off the contact and solidly on my inside rein.

If you see me this week, you might hear me repeating over and over under my breath: "Both reins even, same contact, steady, elbow in and back, leg on. Both reins even ..."

Sigh, we'll get there. Nancy lesson tomorrow morning.

2 comments:

  1. I know I am reading this very late, and you've probably tried this before - or perhaps it wouldn't even work in this scenario. Anytime I have issues with elbows going wayward from my sides, I am often told to ride with a stick or crop behind my back nestled between my elbows to keep my shoulders back and elbows in...dunno if that would be too limiting on your flexibility for soft/giving hands though...

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    1. Great idea! I do actually do this pretty often, using a crop behind my arms when I warm up. I don't like to ride with it for the whole time, because it does limit flexibility, but it's fantastic for training my elbows (and a good "feeling" to remember when riding).

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