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Suppleness and Moving Forward (or Consistency)

September 14, 2009

I had a marathon day at the barn yesterday to make up for lost time: I got to the barn at eight and gave Lily a marathon grooming since she somehow managed to roll in mud when the entire pasture is bone dry. (I actually saw her do it – she takes one of the big rubber buckets we use as water troughs and pulls on the handle until it sloshes over the sides. Grey Lily no more!) Then we took a lovely early morning walk around the property and I just enjoyed being around her for awhile.

I then turned her back out, and caught my trainer’s gelding for a lesson. For months now we have been getting him in shape with lots of transitions and trotting. He can be supple, willing, and on the bit for a few steps, but he had been breaking out of it almost right away because he was horribly out of shape. I’m the only one who rides him, and since a lot of my attention has been directed towards riding Lily, I haven’t been working with him more than once a week these past few months.

Over the past few weeks we have been able to keep that wonderful, forward, supple movement for longer each ride. Our work has finally paid off, because yesterday we had a wonderful lesson in which we both stayed supple and relaxed through almost the whole ride – what a feeling when his hindquarters are actually engaging! Suddenly sitting deep with a long, relaxed leg wasn’t such a struggle anymore. My hips stayed open and my seat balanced, and I could feel his mouth perfectly through figure eights, serpentines, and, one of our big struggles: canter transitions. Once we’re a couple strides into the canter we collect up fine, but normally that initial transition is a lumbering stumble. When he was on the bit and moving correctly forward at the walk, it was not a problem – imagine that! Sounds so simple, but such a click moment.

After I put him away, I got Lily out again and we went for a relaxing ride outside. My seat was still in perfect lesson mode, and it made a huge difference – her trot was forward and springy without nagging on my part. Isn’t it amazing how many training “problems” end up being rider/handler error? The good news is I am sure working up some leg muscles now that I often ride two horses in a day when I go out there. Now I’m wishing that we had a cross-country course I could try my hand at on my trainer’s gelding. I can’t wait for it to be Lily and I someday.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. LoveEventing permalink
    September 20, 2009 6:28 pm

    I’m in the same boat! I’ve started riding two horses in my lessons, Habinero the schoolmaster and then Simon, a 4-year-old Friesian Sporthorse. I’m sure getting a workout! And now that the baby is going to be weaned next weekend, I will be riding even more! I’m curious to see if my new dressage lessons and new focus on my position will help Riz at all when I get back on her… I’m sure I’ll be updating soon! See you on the XC course soon!

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