Of course, i managed to choose the coldest weekend of the year to attend a new weekend course! Friday afternoon it was -17 centigrades/1 farenheit, lovely!
I had two lessons on day 1, it was cold and quite slippery so we used one of the fields for arena. First lesson was with Pelle and i rode Vitesse. Pelle had just returned home from a clinic with Claire Lilly and had learned a new thing, which meant I had to learn it aswell! This lesson we worked with the upper and lower leg aid, means squeeze with my thighs and calvesn and keep the knees firm agains the saddle. At the same time, relax in the buttocks and let go of my hip, difficult? Uhu! After riding for a bit, i had to get of the horse to try and find the right muscles in my calves and how to feel them work the right way. I stood on the ground, raised up on my toes and felt the muscles in my calves work. This was the feeling i was supposed to be searching for while riding. Exept that i was not supposed to stand on my toes in the stirrups, the power from the muscle was supposed to go against the side of the horse instead of pushing up. Easier said than done, but I got it sometimes, and when i did, the horse worked so much better! We also worked on walk-halt transitions with only squeezing with my knees, when we managed to do this, we worked on walk-halt-walk back.
Halt – squeeze with my knees, keep the elbows fixed by using latissimus dorsi and frame the horse between the aids by using upper and lower leg, seat and latissimus dorsi. While in halt, be able to correct one of the hindlegs without everything falling apart by walking forward or backward.
Back – First transition to halt as described above. Squeeze with knees and calves to create energy, then lift the seat and lean a cm forward which will release the energy backwards and the horse backs up.
Some pinpoints to remember
Weight in the stirrups, weight down and use the muscle in towards the side of the horse, keep the heel down!
Think about holding a 1000 kr (120 €/170$) bill with my knees, one on each side. Do not loose the money!
Let go of the hip, active seat, make the horse move forward with seat and leg, frame the horse with the elbowes (tight latissimus dorsi)
The rein should never be used backwards!
I rode Faustino on the other lesson that day, Hanne was the instructor. Faustino was quite worked up, bucking and tried to be tough, but he had to give in eventually. We worked on the same stuff as with Pelle, but now we also focused on my upperbody. I tend to sway in my upper back, which means that my sternum «opens up» and points out. To correct this i have to think sternum down and inwards, at the same time stretching upwards with my head and use latissimus dorsi to keep my elbows and shoulders down. I managed to get everything together quite well in the end and my hip is much better than last time! Improvement! :D
Day 2, december 19th.
Two lessons today aswell, first one was abit delayed since one of the foals here broke out and ran into the big herd and was impossible to catch again. After a while Hanne and Pelle came to the conclution that the foal had it better in the big herd and let him stay there, he imidiatly gained to uncles, Bilro (3 yo Lusitano) and Viplan (20 yo Trakhener) looked after him.
First lesson with Hanne, I rode Vitesse. Same work as yesterday, legs and seat. If the horse is above the bit = stronger seat. If it is behind the bit = more leg. After the warm up we worked on one of the David exercises «mobilisation to the inside» and «mobiliation to the outside» on both hands. Vitesse wasn't really cooperating since this was heavy and she'd rather not use her hindlegs. But after working for a while she loosened up and worked nicely. After a while with theses exercises we made a transition to trot and worked on «lifting» the horse with the help of seat, upper leg and lower leg. At times we worked quite well, and Vitesse balanced great even tho it was icy and slippery on the field.
The second lesson was together with Berit and Petter up at the tournament arena. Some icy parts, but the arena was better than the field! This time Pelle was the instructor. I started the lesson by working with transitions walk-halt-walk. After a while i really got the hang of the aids. I managed to relax the buttocks at the same time as using upper and lower leg. In the transitions i usually sway in the back and by doing that i think that im shifting the weight, but im not. The trick for me was to push forward with the seatbones, inwards and down with the sternum, easy peasy transitions after that!
After this i got a new assignment. Transistions walk-trot. We managed to get a fair few nice transitions, Vitesse moved forward by leg and seat aid, i felt i could «squeeze» her between my legs, up and forward and lift her with my seat! Talk about getting the connection and being as one with the horse! Fun! New assignment, walk – prepare transition to halt, but instead do a half pirouette. After practicing «tale between my legs» for quite some time i remember it in halt, walk, trot and canter but when i want the horse to move sideways or do anything else i suddenly forget. So about half the times the half pirouettes were quite bad, because i just forgot to ad the seat. But when i do remember all the aids, it usually goes ok. I also have a tendency to loose my balance and get the weight on the wrong side, which doesn't really make it easier for the horse. We also worked with HTTW (head to the wall), so Tessa really had to use her hindlegs, and at the end of the last one she let go a big snort! Hah!
At the end of the lesson, we worked in trot at the circle. On the upper half of the circle I was going to extend her trot a bit. We managed to do it once! Pelle said it was close to medium trot, Tessa followed my hand, stretched her neck and extended her step nicely. After this we called it a day! Tired horse, and tired rider!
Day 3, december 20th.
New day, new possiblities.
New lesson with Hanne, rode Vitesse today aswell. Berit and McNiell joined us up at the tournament arena. We worked on the same stuff as the rest of the weekend, but this time i got Hanne to take a few pictures, so here goes!
Berit and Mc'ern
Light trot, Vitesse would like to say; "glærghp"
Sitting trot, I have a tendency to pull my heels up. Need to remember to keep the weight in the stirrups and the power of the muscle towards the horse.
A bit beter, but still need to keep the weight in the stirrups and more power in the seat. You can also see Vitesse has a broken neckline, about the 3rd vertebrae, which means more leg and power from the hindlegs.
Picture series: Vitesse doesnt want to work, pull forward, the result is I tense up, pull up my heel, hard contact and a passive seat.
This leads to: Tension in the horse, gets above the bit and rushes forward. This makes me try to keep still but you can see i twist my elbowes and my whole seat collapses.
I then straighten out my thoughts, seat, legs and elbows are almost where they should be, and miraculously the horse loosens up as well.
Here you can see i still poke my toes out if i don't concentrate.
Once again it has been an educational weekend. I have figured out more about my body and managed to detatch parts and use them as seperate aids. Feks squeeze with upper and lower leg, and at the same time keep a loose hip and an active seat. I have also discovered why I often fail to make the transitions down, I sway my upper back and by doing that i counteract my own aids. So when doing transitions I need to think; sternu down and inwards before using the seatbones. When I do this, it actually feels like I'm leaning forward, but I don't. That's what makes this so hard! It is a different feeling for each rider, so I have to find the feeling that is right for me and train after that feeling. No matter how wrong it feels the first time!
Who said riding a horse was easy?!