Staying on top of a horse
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Friday, October 17, 2008 05:17 PM
One of my students has been working to keep her horse balanced and vertical when going to the right. Her horse likes to lean on the right shoulder and drop her barrel to the right. This tendency some what exadurated because the horse has a bone spavin in the left hock and tries to safe her left hind leg from extra work. The bones have fused in the hock and vet said that it is good for her to be ridden. However, tendency is there and it is quite strong. My student has been struggling to keep balance on the right rein. She feels like falling, horse usually cuts her circles and turns and speeds up in canter or falls back to trot.
On the other hand my student herself has an asymmetry. She likes to advance her right side forward. Her right hip and right shoulder is usually leading on the right rein and sometimes leading so much that I can see her back when I stand in the middle of a circle. This makes her slide to the right which suits the mare pretty well. My student has this horse for a long time and rides only this horse. I wonder if the mare "convinced" her rider to slide to the right.
When we started working on this issue we mostly focused on the inside leg. I wanted to stabilize her right seat bone and right thigh to create "a pillar" effect to stop the horse's ribcage falling to the right. It helped a little bit. However, the results didn't justify the amount of work and struggle required. Next, we started working on twisting her hips slightly to the right to align them properly with the horse's body. That was a big brake through. We started in walk and instantly she could ride shoulder-in to the right without inside rein. Her circles in trot improved dramatically. The mare took the bit, was balanced and soft. To canter from this position created much better transition and a few very good strides. However, my student couldn't keep the position for more than half a circle in canter. Her body would give up and slide to the right. Very often her body tried to twist just shoulders and not hips. She noticed that in correct position her left leg is well connected to the horse and she can use it to direct her horse into the turn.
In our last lesson we were working on a figure eight in canter. Again she was getting it and losing it. She started to feel how that happens. And she noticed how she slid to the right. My student suddenly said to me: "I just need to stay on top of my horse!" That moment I knew that she understands how correct balance feels, what happens when she loses it and what to do to keep it. Such moments make my day!
Happy riding...
 
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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