This week’s lesson is also known as: Look, ma, no reins!
I’m having trouble isolating my legs from my torso when asking for forward on less-than-enthusiastic horses. And it turns out that the issue is connected to my hands/arms. I tend to pump with both my seat and hands when there’s no motion going on underneath me. So, goodbye reins!
It turns out that my position improved immediately without reins. I used a hand on my abdomen to check that my torso was stable and that my core was properly engaged, but otherwise, my hands were just hanging out by my thighs the entire time.
No arms = no tension. I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders, biceps, and wrists, so when all of that got taken away, Radar definitely felt the change. His back loosened up, his stride lengthened, and he was pushing through with his hind more freely.
Also, I got a couple different degrees of right-lead canter today! Which was a definite first for me. Usually, it’s either trot-to-HANG ON or trot-to-WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! But today, we did working canter, a slightly collected canter, and a very collected canter. My half-halts are usually never that nuanced (again with the tension), so that was fab! And without use of the reins!! Radar’s making me feel like something approximating a dressage rider, haha.
My torso felt very still and stable like it’s never been before. In the walk (which, in my opinion, is my most challenging gait to ride), I should only feel forward and back motion; let the horse’s barrel move your hips for you. You can determine how much push is in the hind through the movement in your hips.
In the downward transition from canter to trot, in order to keep trotting, let yourself bounce more. The half-halt should be released and leg put on immediately. BOUNCE.
My next few lessons are going to be reins-less like today, and then slowly, I’ll get reintroduced to using my hands.
I <3 lunge lessons so much. I’m feeling less and less stuck every week.
I might be able to work out a work-for-extra lessons thing with the trainer once her main assistant comes back from vacation. :D I really need more riding time in order to really hammer all this into my muscle memory, so fingers crossed that everything works out!
The other trainer, Mia, has what looks like a small Borzoi - a Silken Windhound, actually - Vixen (Vah-shahn). She’s shy, but once she gets more socialized and comfortable, I’m going to pet her*. Speedy little elegant thing, she is.
Note to self: The peacocks are multiplying at a terrifying speed. Peacocks EVERYWHERE. Stalking your lesson. Nibbling horses’ food. Prancing around the parking lot. Approach slowly and calmly wave them away.
*With her owner’s permission, of course.