Guest post by Sarah:
Christy had me ride her mare Maddie last week, and it was a learning experience. Maddie is a big, good looking mare with nice gaits, and is very, very responsive to her rider’s seat. My first ride on her was spent mostly figuring her out, and even though she’s fairly green, she still taught me an important lesson.
As we started trotting, I was having difficulty getting her to stretch down and out. I was asking her to round and soften, and to her credit, she responded, but we weren’t really developing the trot I wanted. At a certain point, when I could feel things starting to really unravel, I said to myself, “Self, sit up and ride!” I performed a total body correction and re-balance, lengthening my leg and pushing down the heels, elongating and straightening my spine, pushing my shoulders back, and concentrating on posting “hips to hands.”
It’s magic, what paying a little attention to your eq can do for your ride. Happily, Christy caught it all on video, so we can review and dissect it together.
This shot, from the beginning of the video, shows us going a bit hollow. You can see that Maddie is braced against the reins, and her strides are short and choppy, which is not her way of going:
I’m not helping her. Look at my position – I’m pitched forward, I’m looking down, my shoulders are tight an hunched. Simply put, my body is effectively blocking Maddie from stretching and moving forward.
About 24 seconds into the video you can see me sit up and make the correction. The corrections I made to my position probably created a half-halt as well, as I deepened my seat and centered my balance, because I could feel Maddie re-balance herself under me, too.
And the results are evident a couple strides later. Maddie has rounded down into the contact, and look how she’s moving more freely, stepping under herself with her hind legs, engaging her hind end.
Here’s the video. It’s not a pretty piece of riding, but it does illustrate the sequence described above (the “correction” happens right around the 24 second mark.) This experience was a great lesson for me in how the rider’s position affects the horse, and also how even the must subtle changes are read by our equine partners.