Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Adventures Recap: The Take Away

If my recaps (1 & 2) came across negatively, that was not my intent. I was actually thrilled with the results of Pig and I's first show of the season. Sure he was difficult, but there was a lot to like about the way we handled the situation and the way we milked points out of an otherwise difficult test.

"What do you mean I 'was difficult?' I have to deal with your difficulties everyday!" -- Pig
On top of that, looking at the photos and video from the weekend clued me in to some changes I can make in my own riding to improve our communication and harmony. Luckily, I think both issues are related and easily solved through awareness and slight changes.

First? I'm constantly sitting right. When I try to sit left, my body ends up twisted in a strange way, and my right hip is stuck back. This shoves me in the back seat of my saddle and doesn't actually allow me to sink deeply onto my left seatbone.

Second? My right leg is constantly buried in Pig's side, while my left is usually floating somewhere off the side of him. This is partially because I have no weight on my left seatbone, and partially this is keeping me from being able to weight the seatbone. In addition, Guinness tunes out my right leg. That makes me feel I need to have it on constantly to keep his right haunch corralled. That's not acceptable.

Left leg somewhere off the side of my horse. Or, as my trainer would remind me, "you look like a dog peeing on a hydrant." Sigh. Yes. I do. My weight is also right, my right hip is back, and my body is twisted.
My right leg is buried. My right seat is ON. My thigh has contact. This is a very active position, and has its place, but every photo looks like this. Oops.
My biggest problem is that my left leg seems to have a magnet for the girth. The moment I get on, it finds the girth and never leaves. That throws my balance off, and confuses my horse. It makes simple changes and maintaining bend super hard. My weight being right also forces Pig to bring his haunches right, which I am trying to stop with my right leg. It's a big cycle of bad.
Well, Lady? Get to your fixin'!
Over the last few rides, I've been focusing hard on fixing these issues. First I've been working on loosening up my legs and ensuring that I have a reaction to my right leg. I've been doing that through use of turns on the forehand whenever Pig started to feel sticky to my right leg.

Once he is listening, I make sure to have both lower legs in the right active position. I worked on shifting back my left leg, lengthening it and making sure it could come on when needed. Lengthening my left leg helped my left seatbone come back in contact with the saddle.

Finally, I put all of this to work in simple changes and collecting the canter. These exercises are where a deficient seat and inactive legs are most obvious. The work has been hard, but getting better. The best thing is that Pig is starting to really recognize my legs shifting position as a cue. That is exciting because it brings us to...
That moment when you realize your trainer is back from Florida, and you've got embarrassing things to fix before she sees you...
Ch-ch-chaaaanges are on the horizon! We have two weeks to solidify our, admittedly pretty good, collected canter and our, admittedly somewhat awful, simple changes. I need to get the depart more off my seat, and changing my legs and deepening my left seat is helping immensely with that. We're close. We're so close!

(Now, back to writing my thesis papers...)

31 comments:

  1. Pictures and video work wonders. I wish I had more of them to watch myself :(
    Glad you're working on those issues!
    Also that last picture is awesome haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reims Cathedral smiling angel meme FTW!

      Delete
  2. Go get 'em! That last picture is amazing... and if you find the cure to crookedness, please share!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed fixing my hydrant peeing issue does it. Wait...

      Delete
  3. I <3 pics and vids for this very reason. I think I'm great, and then I see a pic and I'm like... oh. Whoops. Good self-reflection, though, and lots of good things to think about/work on.

    Now stop blogging and go write your paper! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I did not take your show recap posts as negative - just honest! I second the "when you find a cure for crookedness please share" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to be honest, but I felt like maybe I didn't sound as pleased as I was overall.

      Delete
  5. I'm just starting to figure out how my own inadequacies are impinging on my horse's ability to do things. It's maddening.

    Like... how exactly is he supposed to make a balanced turn if I'm hanging on the inside rein? The physics don't work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! You're getting it! I like to think through the mechanics of everything before I try it. Changes are going to be super intimidating while I work through the timing and action of the cues.

      Delete
    2. ^^^This!!! It's not you, horse, its me! My poor mare.

      Delete
  6. I loooooooove reading your posts because I always learn so much! Okay so weight on the seatbone encourages haunches to twist that way, huh? Well that would explain (in part) why a certain someone travels around with his right haunch slightly in all the time... he also hates stretching out that right side/giving up the bend on that side but that is a different matter.

    So what I hear you saying is that I need to evenly distribute my weight better across my seatbones? This is trickery. I don't believe you. NOBODY HAS EVER TOLD ME THIS. But for real, I am trying it.

    I also need to work on canter departs off my seat and the "windshield" outside leg. Good thing canter departs are an excellent strengthening exercise anyway.

    PS I need your address for jam, so will hunt around on here for your email but if you figure out a way to email me first, just do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In general, weight on one side asks the horse to step under that weight. One hip forward encourages a bigger step from that hind. So in a turn you want your weight slightly outside with your inside hip slightly forward so that horse is stepping up with that inside hind and keeping his balance outside. Sometimes you have to tweak that depending on your horse's balance and their resistances. I think I've been compensating for Pig's wonky right stifle for awhile, and this sort of compensation turned into a positional thing. Oddly enough, I used to off the other way!

      I shall try to contact you! I am excited about jam! :)

      Delete
    2. Or you can email me at the contact info listed above under "Contact"

      Delete
  7. Ahaha I love the "dog peeing on a fire hydrant" visual. Straightness as a rider is so hard. I haven't had a lesson in months and I can feel myself getting crunched up over my left side and coming off my right seatbone. TC is a bit stiffer left than right these days, so I think that has something to do with it. I am not helping though. I'll give you some of my crookedness if you give me some of yours!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I giggle ever time she brings up the hydrant. I can't help it. Please! Let's trade some crookedness, or maybe we'll just trade horses for a week and see if that straightens us out. ;)

      Delete
  8. woo hoo you can totally do the thing!! i love your posts bc they always get me thinking about my own positional issues... which of course are many and varied haha.

    good luck getting it all sorted out. i think the hardest part is the muscle memory bit - it seems to take forever for a new positional habit to actually stick, but it's worth the work i suppose :)

    also, fwiw i didn't think your show recap was negative at all - and even if i had, all the smiling and cheesing photos with Pig would have dispelled anything along those lines. it looked like you were having a blast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. Muscle memory is the worst. With the death plague and grad school, all my muscle everything has left my body.

      I was having a blast! :)

      Delete
  9. I'm thinking I am also struggling with sitting straight and even in the saddle. I think I sit to the right a little bit. I just saw a Horse Collaborative article that sounded interesting. I am wondering if this might help me stay more in the center of the saddle...

    http://www.horsecollaborative.com/dynamic-buttocks-two-exercises-better-seat-improved-riding-position/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dynamic-buttocks

    I thought you had a great show though, congrats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha "Dynamic Buttocks"! That's an interesting exercise. I think I do something similar naturally when trying to realign myself. Interesting!

      Delete
    2. The title is my favorite! At first I thought it was going to be geared towards the horse but then I realized it would probably be a good exercise for me...what can I say? I like big butts and I cannot lie.

      Delete
  10. I have the opposite problem with my legs, both sucker swing too far back...maybe we could trade some of my lack of girth-homing-pigeon-legs for some of yours ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check to see if you aren't leaning forward. There's a great article I posted somewhere about the dressage seat that talks about common issues with leg and seat positioning. I found it really insightful.

      Delete
    2. Ooh you are deff on to something, I think i am the queen of lean!
      I shall have to backtrack and see if i can find this article...although I think i read it at the time - i really should just bookmark everything you share!

      Delete
    3. Found it! http://www.horsecollaborative.com/sitting-horse-balance/ and my post on it http://guineaforaguinness.blogspot.com/2014/06/pesky-plateau-and-positional-pressure.html

      Delete
  11. One of my legs is more compact than the other ><

    ReplyDelete
  12. Once again your post helps me fix myself too :) Also, I didn't think your last two posts were negative at all. I think that you are very good about focusing on the positives and the negatives without getting emotional about it. You always seem to turn the negatives into a learning experience. I think that's very admirable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I think we're all a little crooked, and right side dominance is pretty common, I hear. I hope your fixes come easily!

      Delete
  13. Once again your post helps me fix myself too :) Also, I didn't think your last two posts were negative at all. I think that you are very good about focusing on the positives and the negatives without getting emotional about it. You always seem to turn the negatives into a learning experience. I think that's very admirable.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The angel at the end. OMG. Losing it.

    ReplyDelete