Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Early this morning, Gayle came up to give us lessons.  Winston and I were up first.  Because we are just getting back to work after three weeks off, Gayle gave us a long warm up at walk.  We worked, though.  We worked on my position.  Gayle said that I was slouching forward with my shoulders.

So while Winston warmed up by walking on a loose rein, I had to lift my shoulders and lean back.  More. More. There.  I felt like I was leaning over backwards; like I was going to be laying across Winston's butt if I went another inch.  But, I wasn't.  I looked like this.  The camera doesn't lie.

Gayle told me that if I keep my shoulders up and back and stay centered over my body, Winston will be able to balance easier and carry me.  Otherwise, I'll have to work too hard to keep him together.  Of course, getting there is going to take some work.  My body likes slouching.  Sigh.

Next we worked on corners; starting with 15m circles and working down to 10m voltes.  Winston needed to stay active, reaching under with his hind inside leg, and bending around my leg. 

I had to press with my inside leg so he didn't fall into the middle of the circle; I had to sit tall; and I had to not pull him around with my reins.  

When he was moving with energy, we did pretty well.  When he slowed down, I had to work harder and steering was difficult.  I felt like I was pushing a 50 lb bale of hay sideways with my calf.  Making faces helps.

We got it done but it wasn't easy.  Keeping Winston forward and active is key.  I get that.  I really get that now.  Gayle worked us for close to an hour.  Walk and then the same thing at trot.  We finished with some leg yield.  After getting a good 10m circle in the corner, I would straighten onto the center line and then push him sideways to the rail.  He wasn't quick enough or reaching under far enough for Gayle (this is not a new exercise for us).  I had to tap him with the whip to get good effort.  I said a Hail, Mary first.  He fussed but he didn't buck.  Phew.
Happy team! 
While we were working on leg yield, Brett was busy getting Mufasa tacked up and ready to go.  Brett tweaked his back the other day while riding Mufasa in the arena.  Mufasa spooked at the cat, scooted sideways, and Brett stayed securely in the saddle but he got a good jerk sideways and that hurt.  He loaded up on Aleve, crossed his fingers, and mounted up.

Gayle told Brett not to worry about Mufasa's frame at this point.  They worked on getting an even tempo, especially in the corners, and getting Mufasa used to light contact on his mouth.  Mufasa steadily improved as the lesson progressed.

There were also moments where he got discomboobalated.  Brett stayed steady and consistent on his back which wasn't always easy.  There were times when Mufasa got a bit strung out.

Mufasa has a lovely, forward trot.  The balance will come.  This horse tries hard.  After working on trot, they moved onto canter.  Unfortunately, canter hurt Brett's back so they didn't do it for long.  Their lesson wasn't long, but they accomplished a lot.


  1. 2 really beautiful horses you have!

  2. You all look like you're really enjoying yourselves - horses and people both. I have exactly the same postural issue you do - the thing that made the biggest difference to me was keeping my chin and eyes up and out - pretty high up - at treetop level - that did a lot to correct the rest of my posture. Shoulder stretches also make a big difference.

  3. Annette...The pictures of you and Winston are fabulous. Corners, voltes and rolling the shoulders are very familiar to me from back in the day when I was taking a lot of lessons. I agree with what your instructor was saying about position and making balance easier for the horse. Sorry about Brett's back. He deserves lots of kudos for even taking a lesson. Good for him and Mufasa. You two are great examples and make me want to get busy!

  4. There's just so much to think about when you ride!
    Sounds like a great lesson.

  5. Theres a reason why Dovers carries those "shoulders back" supports...LOL! I know Im tempted to pick one up~

    But you two look terrific together! (and Brett with Mufasa too! ;)

  6. Gayle is indeed a godsend isn't she and the best part of these...the smiles on the faces! I remember making those faces you did when I was learning to ride and use legs not reins...much harder than you think.

  7. You and Winston are looking great! He has such a nice frame! What a good team :)


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