How I even managed to get my tired ass on my horse today is a miracle. I don't think I've sat down since 6am this morning and I feel like I'm going to collapse. Anyways.
I've been meaning to talk about the clinic I watched this weekend, but I really don't know how to put it into words. Jana is literally the best rider I've ever seen set foot on a horse and I was floored. I think I icreated mud in my intestines from the amount of dust I inhaled, simply because I couldn't shut my jaw. Most of the riders had her ride their horses first and she put all kinds of horses through their paces and I was just blown away. BLOWN. AWAY.
She was so solid, perfect and calm. I didn't know riders like her existed. And I've seen pro's ride in person. Even when the horses were acting a fool or not doing what she asked. I don't think she ever moved, but damn, she could get a horse to do things I didn't even know were possible...all without seemingly moving a muscle! GAH.
After seeing that kind of riding I wonder if I will ever get there. I realized today how out of riding shape I am, and its pathetic. She has got to be in beast mode shape to be so still but get horses to half pass canter, pirouette, piaffe etc without even moving. Even her whip work--it was like the whip moved by itself. Never have I seen a more efficient rider.
Typical German. ha.
One of the things she hit on was how completely unaware most riders are of lateral work. WE only think about forward, rarely back and in the lower levels, laterally. She noted that most horses are very stiff sideways and have trouble unlocking their hips and shoulders. Thus, their flatwork will suffer.
I already knew that about the hips, but never really thought about working the shoulders much, even though they ARE a part of lateral work.
I ran Yanks through her exercises, and was impressed by the way he responded.
End result was a relaxed, supple horse throughout. Have you ever ridden a horse and just felt like you were on top of a stretchy rubber ball? It was fantastic. I NEVER thought I weould ever get my OTTB to feel that way.
I've been concentrating so much on getting him to unlock his neck and push through the bridle from behind I never even considered part of the problem could be a stiffness in his shoulders. I'm glad I thought to try it though because he was a totally different beast!
His trot had LOFT and his canter had POWER. He wasn't flat or hanging or crooked. I just...can't even.
I also played around with schooling the halt. Another thing I rarely think about but is oh so important.
This practice made me realize how tense I can get and how it transmits to the pony. Its difficult when you're trying to teach a horse something to think about what your body is doing as well. BUt 97% of the time, its us that screws our horses up, not them. I consciously have to MAKE myself think about where my body is since I am so out of riding shape. I tend to crunch forward since my muscles arent used to being long.
Yoga. Need dis.
As soon as I relaxed my shoulders and fingers and remembered to sit and close my legs before half halting to a halt, he didn't come above the bit. And was ALWAYS square.
Funny how that works.