My trip. Part II.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Friday, April 9, 2010 02:44 PM
One of the horses who helped me with my seat this time was Esteban. I encourage you to read my article "Meet Esteban" from my last visit to Frances in 2008. Please click here. Esteban has matured since then into a magnificent stallion with the same kind nature as I remember him. I wish I had read my blog myself before I left for the visit. It would be very helpful to review my old problems and see if I am still making same mistakes.
Plugging my seatbones in was a major brake through in riding Esteban. I was riding him in a snaffle and usually he is ridden in double bridle. In the snaffle he has a tendency to become strong in canter if not ridden with effective seat. At first I had too much thigh on him and very little seatbones. This made him flat and fast. The more I rearranged myself to be connected from top to bottom the more I could engage him and lift his back. Our transitions from canter to trot/walk started to look more fluid. Other problem I had is leaning forward in canter. I have tall torso and I always have trouble keeping it stacked vertically. I think working on my seatbones helped me to keep my torso vertical. Esteban showed me that my idea of being plugged in didn't even came close to what he expected of me.
On Sunday, while riding First level test 4 I lost my seat on the right lead and our lengthening of canter got out of control. I couldn't show transition to working canter and the next movement - shallow loop in counter-canter - was out of balance. During the test it is extremely difficult to ride movements and work on your seat at the same time. Still I had a blast and got first place with 67%. I got 8s for 4 movements such as leg-yield, lengthening of canter left lead :), 20 m circle in trot stretching long and low and medium walk. And I got 5s for 2 movements: transition to working canter :) and canter circle 15 m to the right. The comment was the circle was "too big", which is again my mistake of leaning to the left in my torso and taking the horse with me. Getting ready for the show was a big catalyst to get my seat organized. I had to make things happen and the urgency of it made me work harder and listen to the horse with greater focus. Esteban is an amazing horse. He is a breeding stallion and I had to warm him up in the 20x20m space with 4 other horses, one of them was mare. He didn't even look at them, what a gentleman!
On the last day of my visit Frances rode Esteban and I got to watch. They were incredible, light, forward and balanced at the same time. I have asked Frances how she checks her balance and symmetry. Her explanation was very simple: "Same amount of weight in each seatbone, in each stirrup and each rein, same space between ribcage and pelvis on both sides." After I thought about it I realized that simplicity is what makes it difficult. We start looking for more elaborated ways and get caught up in so much noise forgetting basics, forgetting the big picture. Now when I ride I try to remember this simple rule and it helps me find my left seatbone that likes to float away, get my right thigh on the saddle because I feel my right stirrup more loaded and I know I lost my thigh connection. Put my calfs gently around the horse and feel him respond and soften the rein contact. No and then I glance down on his neck and check that my nose right above the top of his mane, which means I'm centered in my upper body.
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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