Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, January 17, 2008 08:20 PM
This is Teo.
I have known him since 1998, he was the horse that helped me and Frances understand each other when my English was very weak :)
He is one of the most difficult horses to ride correctly. His conformation and sensitivity makes him absolutely intolerant to heavy, pushy seats, stiff bodies
and holding hands plus his trot is very bouncy. When I came to Frances this time I wanted to ride him first. I wanted to see that my new knowledge and ability to keep
my body connected and toned but not stiff is the key to ride Teo.
I was right, I was able to sit Teo's trot and it didn't feel as bouncy as I remember. However, I had to focus on riding properly
so much that all I could do is just ride his trot. In the first few rides I have realized that he can easily separate my upper body
from my lower body. When that happened I stiffened and he gave my this passagy slow trot. He is so good at telling you what is wrong
when you can understand his language. Some of my rides on him felt like quiet conversation:
Teo - "You are stiff, you are holding. Yes, this is better. Ohh, this feels good I can stretch. You lost it.
Me - "Wow, this feels really good. It's OK, Teo, you can move your neck around. Stay supple. Stay forward. Take the rein and stretch.
I'm working on my seat. Oops, I lost it."
Teo together with Frances' watchful eye from the ground showed me that when I lose my ability to stay connected and supple
two things happen:
- My upper body stiffens and starts holding on the reins. When upper body is not connected to the lower body it falls behind
and it needs to do something to keep up. Solution - grab the reins for support!
- My lower body, the pelvis in particular, would rotate and put me more on my seatbones. This position is a jump start
for driving with your seat and squishing your horse down like a bug. Holding on the reins gives you even more ability to drive
your seatbones into your horse's back. Ugh!
Another thing Frances helped me with while I was working Teo is creating better balance between my left and right side. I know I'm
naturally heavy on my left seatbone. I thought I have to put my right one down. Frances suggested to ease off on the left one!
Wow! I felt instant change in Teo. I was squishing him with my abnormally heavy left seatbone and he didn't like that.
One more tip on that from Frances. If I bend my left knee a little bit more it automatically lightens my left seatbone. Interestingly enough
my left leg wants to stay straighter then my right one when I'm not watching myself.
Another very important improvement in my seat that comes from riding Teo is letting my hips through in the canter without sliding
or scooping in the saddle. While learning by myself how to use my thighs in canter I was very afraid to let my hips through.
I didn't want to come back to my old mistakes sliding forward in the saddle and driving with my seat. I knew I was missing a piece in my canter.
I could feel it. I knew I could count on Frances to help me with that and sure enough she instantly recognized what
I needed and she helped me to get it right. My relaxed hips started coming up because I knew already how to use my thighs
and Teo was able to come through and stay loose in the canter.
I rode Teo a lot because I knew if I can do it on him I can do it on any other horse. Besides being a wonderful teacher Teo
is a such delight to be around. He is very affectioned and has a cheerful personality. At the end of my visit I could sit his trot
and keep him loose for a long period of time and in canter we were doing sequential flying changes! Thanks Teo!