The weekend course is build up by 4 1hr lessons and there is supposed to be an hour theory a day, but in this house, the theory behind riding is discussed from the moment we get up, until we sleepwalk to bed :) I rode Faustino, a 5 year old TB gelding in all the lessons. He was given to trollspeilet for free because he was a «lost cause», trained wrong from the beginning, only muscles on one side, lots of pain and just not friendly with people. They've had him since April and he has come a long way since then!
These courses are first and formost a course in gaining a correctly balanced seat, so I mostly work with myself and when i get my act together i can start to demand the horse to work. Faustino likes to keep his head high and tensed so we worked on long and low the whole time.
Hanne (one of the ridning instructors) used the first lesson to correct the seat. Every rider has his or her own problem with theire seat, and as each problem is individual, every solution is individual. I have to sit more forward in the saddle and think «tale between my legs». While doing this, keep my leg further back and twist my femuralbone so that my heel feels like it's pointing outwards. Hanne pulled my legs abit and showed me where they were supposed to be and how that felt. To be honest it hurt like hell in gluteus medius, and my abdominal muscles had to work real hard!
I need to think up, up, up while i ride, often use the image of a tree growing upwards on the top, and the roots pulling themselfes to the ground (thanks Sally Swift). We worked on this for a while, in walk without the stirrups, before we made the transition to trot and tried to keep the same seat. Faustion worked quite well after a while, but I could really feel how uneven he is in his muscles. On the right hand he fell inwards in the circle, and on the left hand his right shoulder didn't really want to keep in place. Tried some transistions to canter this lesson, but my hip was too stiff so the canter was not efficient and really bumpy.
Second lesson: continuation of the work we had started with on the first lesson. We started out by trying to correct our own seat with Hanne for support if we needed it. I thought it went quite well, allthough i still need to be reminded to keep my heels down and in place, but it's getting there! During this lesson i felt i managed to let go of my hip quite well in trot, the horse responded quicker and i felt i could actually use my seat to lift the horse up and forward, and controll the tempo with my seat! Fun!
Third lesson: same word ;) It is funny how the things you work with, gets so much easier after a while. Today it was alot easier to keep my leg in place, and at the same time, relax my leg. I have a tendency to tighten my leg when i have to keep it in a place that feels unnatural and weird. This lesson i worked with transitions trot-canter-trot, with main focus on the transitions. Faustino likes to just speed up and fall into canter, and the transitions from canter to trot usuallu leeds to Faustino falling completely apart. After a while we got the hand on the trot-canter transitions, I wish I could say the same for the caner-trot transitions, but oh well, we worked hard on them! :p The big new improvement was that i managed to let go of my hip in canter! For the first time! I have never felt it before, and it was weird how easy it was to sit correctly. I must say i only managed to keep it for a few steps at a time, but little is more than nothing!
Forth lesson: my seatbones and coccyx were so sore i had a hard time just sitting in the saddle, funny enough i manage to «forget it» during the lesson (get a hard reminder afterwards tho). Last lesson, worked on same stuff as earlier, tale between my legs, let go of the hip, half halts and loong and loow. At the end i rode light trot so Faustino got the chance to really stretch his neck long and low, this is quite hard for him, and he doesn't really want to do it, but we managed it in the end! He worked well through the back and he almost even made a sound! Faustino usually keep his «prust» (can't find the english word for it) inside, so it came out in the form of sigh and moans, but we take what we can get! :)
Looking back at the course i feel that I have taken a few steps forward in my riding. I have, for the first time, really understood what it means to let go of the hip. Which means training, training, trainig!
I think I'm going to take a new course in december, perhaps a few more lessons since i got the time for some intensive workout! Hopefully I will find a solution to my coccyx problem, which was really annoying! The problem might have been the saddle this time, not the most comfertable thing i have ridden in...
Anyhow, a list of what to remember and practice on, until next time
- tale between my legs, all the time, not just when i remember it.
- The leg in its place
- twist the femur, heels out!
- Shoulders in their place
- head on top of the shoulders, not in front of them!
- Look forward, don't tilt the head!
No photos this time, only three of us in the course and the last person on the farm had to babysit the kids, perhaps next time.