I'm back from my trip!
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 10:23 PM
My friend Frances Carbonnel, Castle Rock, Colorado is a very accomplished trainer and instructor. She specializes in Andalusians and owns two purebred stallions: Fino and Esteban that are proven themselves in the show ring many times. She owns two more horses: Banjo and Teo. Banjo is a half-Andalusian and works as a school horse for Frances' students. Though, he has been shown very successfully by the junior rider at the Andalusian championships in Texas last year. Teo is a school master, 19 years old. He is going really well and can do all Grant Prix movements. He teaches Frances' more experienced students, though he is very difficult to ride properly. Another two Andalusian stallions, Nobel and Royale, are in training with Frances. I have worked with all these horses riding 3-4 every day. Plus I had a project, during my time there. I have worked with one of Frances' students horse - big Frisian gelding that needed training, his name is Victor. I had an opportunity to teach and audit teaching. It went really well. Frances' students enjoyed a different point of view and me and Frances have exchanged ideas and approaches. Watching each other work gave us new energy and enthusiasm because we both really like teaching.
Besides Frances, each horse was my special teacher. The one thing these horse had in common is instant disapprove of a bad seat. They reminded me about essential basics and proper balance:
  • Keep my own balance, do not grab the reins for support. I was reminded of that mistake many times even though I thought I knew better than to use reins in such manner. I guess old habits do not go away easily.
  • Create a very nice base of support by keeping my pelvic bone vertical and rotating my thighs in. The saddle has to fit the rider in order to do it properly. I thought I have rotated my thighs in enough, but when I did even more I felt instant comfort in sitting on a very wide surface. The most amazing thing to feel horse's back, how it comes up to you or falls out when things go wrong.
  • I still continue to work on my imbalances, keeping my right seatbone down, my right thigh stable. Royale really exploited this weakness of mine. With Frances' help I realized I have used my right hand to unconsciously support myself on the rein by pushing my hand down too much stiffening my right shoulder and arm. Leaning left was another trick my body used to balance things out.
  • Using my stomach, creating "abdominal push" was proven to be absolutely vital part of a good seat, especially on hard to ride horses such as Teo. His trot is so bouncy, that he can instantly separate your body into two pieces and then nothing can work properly.
  • I have a bad habit of looking down for long periods of time, that disturbs my balance, makes me lean forward, collapses my chest, rounds my back.
  • My body is tall and that creates another problem in keeping it erect with shoulders open. This is especially true with horses who can easily lose their balance if I'm not keeping mine. It again comes to holding on the reins instead of keeping a soft and alive contact. The hardest part is riding with gentle contact, half-halting when necessary and not holding.
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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