Animals & Wildlife Magazine

A Quiet Weekend of Riding = Lightbulb Moments!

By Kc2610 @kc2610
It may be possible that I have super-healing powers... my finger's healing process is on fire! All of the skin that got ripped off has pretty much grown back, now all that's left is the hole where the clip went into the skin, and even that has dried out and forming a nice scab. Ew, did I just say that?
Anyway, the best thing is that because I haven't had to put a bandage on it, I have been able to ride this week! The boys enjoyed a day off on Thursday, Martin rode Seb on Friday and Saturday and Chad had another day off on Friday and I began to ride him again on Saturday to test the waters with the finger bending. It worked pretty well, as my concentration took my mind off my finger and I only noticed the pain during walk breaks when I stretched my fingers out.
I worked Chad by myself for a couple of days which was nice. I was able to just play around with leg-yielding and transitions with the aim to get him to accept my leg rather than tense against it. Whatever I did must have worked, because Leonie was really impressed when she saw him go on Monday and said he was much softer through his ribcage. Yehhh :)

A quiet weekend of riding = lightbulb moments!

Seb and I just chilling out in the arena.... :P

Seb has unfortunately acquired a bit of a cough. He started it on Sunday, the vet came out on Monday and listened to his breathing and said it was a bit rough, so to just work him lightly and gave us some medicine for him. It's not a disaster that I can't work him fully this week, as there are lots of things that I, as a rider, need to work on.
I am finally starting to get the concept of my hands being low, riding into the wither and not blocking with the contact. I have to allow the energy produced by my seat and leg to flow through from the hind legs, pushed up over the wither with my seat, passed through my hand and towards the mouth. I found it so hard to keep my hands down, I put them everywhere but! I tried down and out either side of the withers, down and back, not down enough, out and back... but now, after over a week of riding with elastic bands tying my hands down on Seb, I finally have the feeling of them being down on the wither, and giving slightly forward.
To keep your hands down without tightening other body parts you have to completely relax your shoulders down (another little problem of mine) sink your spine into your seat in the saddle and tilt your pelvis so that you almost resemble a backwards '6'. This way, you get the most effective drive to push the energy from behind forward and uphill, because you are sitting deep into the withers and not perching on top or letting the energy flow out behind you (yet another little problem I used to have).
In transitions or half-halts, you keep your seat completely plugged in (we don't want any "loose sockets with flickering lights" as Leonie says) and keeping the hands low and without pulling back, you just do a slight "crunch" movement with your abs to sink down deeper and hold for a split second. This tiny "hold" moment in your stomach is the half halt, so to keep going you back up the "hold" with seat and legs and a well-timed hand. To make the actual transition, you keep the "hold" for longer and depending on what you want to happen....
Trot to walk - change seat rythm to walk along with a slight take on the outside rein.
Walk to trot - leg on, seat rythm changes to trot, relaxed hand.
Trot to canter - Inside seat bone moves forward, inside leg asks for more energy, and depending on how the horse has been trained, sometimes outside leg back.
Canter to trot - Stop the swing of the body to change to trot rythm (the "hold" is good for this) and a slight take on the outside rein.
That is just an example of how my newly discovered "hold" can work, but it also works in things like keeping rhythm (with a well timed and regular "hold"), creating more cadence, keeping positioning of a shoulder-in, keeping the flow of a half-pass... It helps everything! It really is just a half-halt, but I think all riders will agree with me when I say that although we know the half-halt is to always be used, God only knows what it actually is! We all have our own types of half halt, which is the amazing thing about riding. We all do it differently, the best an instructor can do is to guide you where you need to be, but to truly understand how you ride and how your body works, I firmly believe in "quiet time" in the saddle to figure these things out for yourself. It's like meditation on a horse almost, not all quiet and "ohmmmmmm"-like,  but just being mindful and aware of your body and what you are doing. This was the great gift of this weekend when I rode alone. I figured it all out, the puzzle came together.
So onwards and upwards with this new-found knowledge! This mountain has been climbed and its on to the next one, no doubt after having the descent to deal with pretty soon. Sorry that's a bit depressing isn't it... but it is a fact. We have to do a bit of a descent before we can reach the next mountain which is higher than the last. Otherwise, we can never improve our personal peak levels. You get me? Good, so, bring on the next descent, because I want to climb higher :)

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