I'm liking these pictures. One day I hope to be able to take a video because he'll be bomb-proof!
Since I’m writing this blog mainly so I have a way to look back over time and see how I (and Blu) develop, I figure it’s important to put things down on “paper.”
I’m finding it hard to put some things into words though. And I hope I don’t sound smug, or whatever, (to whomever is reading this other than me) when I get excited about figuring something out. But I really do get excited when I finally catch on to something Todd has taught me. It always surprises me.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m learning anything at all. Or that I’ll never ‘get it.”
Todd tells me to do something and I do what he says but it just doesn’t MEAN anything to me. Sometimes I don’t see Blu’s head going down when Todd says “good! That’s it, release!” but I release anyway. Other times I don’t realize I don’t have my leg on Blu until Todd says “more leg!” and even though at times it seems counter-intuitive I put more leg on Blu. That’s what I have a trainer for.
But now I can see that I’m finding pretty consistently that the next time I ride, something clicks from the previous ride and I can do the release, or more leg, or whatever, on my own. (At least sometimes!) And it feels so good!
As a (long) example – and speaking of ‘more leg’ - it’s funny to me how saddle sore I am now! I thought I was working before, when I was taking lessons with the other horses but riding a green horse is really challenging me to have a better seat and leg position and as a result I’m using muscles and tendons I haven’t used in a very long time. And they’re letting me know!
This extra soreness is because last week Todd worked with me on my leg position. I like longer stirrups because my bad knees really scream if my stirrups are short so I make them long enough that I am reaching to have my feet touch. But last week when I started loping I kept losing my stirrups, or having them slide so that I was oxbowing (I think that’s what it’s called when the stirrup slip back to where the heel stops my foot from sliding through entirely) so we shortened them. It felt weird – like I was back to riding English – but I was able to keep my foot in contact with the stirrup which helped my confidence while loping. Shorter stirrups weren’t the goal though – turns out they were a very (very) short term crutch.
Because I wasn’t putting leg on Blu the way I was supposed to, Todd worked on showing me a more appropriate leg position. While sitting in the saddle he had me lift my toes up as high as I could, which is basically “heels down” but a different way of having me learn it. I did the toe flex thing while my foot was in the stirrup but the ball of my foot wasn’t touching the stirrup. He then had me straighten my leg until the ball of my foot came in contact with the stirrup. In order to do this I had to move my leg back so I was in more of a straight line from head to shoulders to hips to knee. If I were standing on the ground in this position I would look really funny, but sitting in the saddle it totally changed my contact with Blu’s sides AND it gave me a solid feeling of contact with the stirrup.
A perfect example of something Todd showed me last week that didn’t feel normal, but this week when I got on I did the new leg positioning, with longer stirrups and it felt slightly less awkward and I was able to do the positioning on my own. And I could feel the change in contact with Blu’s side. I was able to squeeze with my calf rather than kicking with my heel. And amazingly, Blu moved off the calf better than with the heel. Voila! It was another of those “ah-ha” moments that clicked this week from a previous lesson.
I will continue to get excited when something “clicks” – it’s who I am and one of the (many) reasons I love riding. And I hope that I’ll be able to look back on this blog and recognize things that while awkward at first, become second nature later.
I don't have any video of me riding since the first days, but here's Todd on Blu