Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Softly Forward in Front of the Leg

Not only did I have a great lesson with D on Sunday, but the excellent Tracy came to hang out, take pictures, and video. I am SO grateful and excited to have some evidence that I actually ride my horse. I also hope we can look back at this in a couple months and feel as though Lex and I have made progress.

Fancy trot!
We started the lesson lunging Lex, just like last time. This time, though, D set up a cross rail for her to trot and then canter over. Lex was pretty good about it, and when she jumped it well, she jumped it really well. That said: she made some baby mistakes. It's all good. She's high strung and doesn't like to mess up, but eventually we got her trotting it nicely and landing on the correct lead. I feel I can calm her down so much better from in the tack than I can on the lunge line, but it's a work in progress for both of us. I expect at our next lesson -- Thursday -- I'll get to jump a little from the saddle. Fingers crossed! I think she's ready.

Lex being BTV; me leaning too far forward.

Then I got on and we spent awhile working on getting Lex to balance on the outside rein and not be so behind the bit. We want her a little ahead of the vertical: she's green, and she's not a dressage horse. If you watch the jumpers, they're not usually perfectly on the vertical at all times. It's not always a desirable frame for that sport.

 D focuses more on my position issues than Chris does, and that's fine. Like him, she also recruits a lot of theory, and they discuss concepts in similar ways. She has me do some things he doesn't do (canter from the walk -- I need to ask her why she likes that exercise) but I think both of them identify the same basic strengths and weaknesses in me and Lex. I'm happy about that.
Much better on both counts!

The main take-home points from D were:

Blurry but illustrative!

1. Keep Lex softly forward in front of the leg at all times. No matter what she does (and at one point she got super spooky, though that's not on the tape), just ask myself how to get her softly in front of the leg. Not only will that put her body where it should be, but her brain will get to work, too.

Lookin cute but I'd like to see her stretch for contact more.

2. Lex is a soft-mouthed horse. She doesn't resist the bend at all. She does, however, curl behind the bit at the drop of a hat. Thus, ride her with very little inside rein, especially once she understands what the outside rein is for.

That is one hideous lower leg but at least she's not BTV!

3. I've fallen back into my old nasty habit of letting my leg slip back. I had this pretty well licked over the summer and fall, so I'm sure I can fix it again. But riding once every couple of weeks (winter is hell, how do you people do this) and only one horse means that I've lost some fitness and some of the position qualities I'd achieved before I came here. There's a nice moment on the tape where D has Tracy walk right up to my leg with the camera so she could talk about proper lower limb position.

I don't look like I've never ridden before and
she looks relaxed. WINNING.

4. Along these same lines, I'm revisiting my former issue of leaning forward a bit too much. I have had this problem forever. I remember my first riding instructor (Kate Gress, for all y'all Hoosiers) telling me to sit up more. This is another thing I fixed pretty well over the summer and am having to struggle with again now. I'll get it. I can feel the difference when it's right.

There's a fancy horse in there somewhere.

5. She's now more balanced to the right than the left and we're struggling with not just getting the left lead canter, but not going splat against the walls when we do get it. The right lead is pretty sweet, though.

Oooookay, here's the video. I wasn't sure if I should put in a bunch of short videos or one long one. I went with this because I didn't want to upload a million short films to YouTube, but I will if that's what y'all prefer. I live to serve.

Thanks again, Tracy!


  1. Thank you so much for letting me "audit" your lesson!! I had a blast. I've officially decided that next time I come out to play photographer/videographer I'm going to bring a nicer camera from work because my photography skills are seriously lacking... plus Lex is beautiful and I want pictures of her to show that!!

  2. She looks absolutely fab, and I like canter from the walk because it forces them to not be on the front end :) elevation!

  3. You guys are doing so awesome considering your trying 2013!
    Great take aways from the lesson and its fab to have another perspective yet highlighting same issues...all working together towards a common goal - doesn't get much better than that!
    Love the polos!!! Are they purple argyle?!