Saturday, October 8, 2016

Some no-stirrup work on Wylie

My entire focus since the show has been working to improve my seat. Head up, weight traveling all the way down to the stirrups, toes in, belly pulled in. More than anything, I think getting my weight all the way down into my heels, toes in, has led to a big improvement. I'm doing no-stirrup work with Wylie because he's such a steady Eddie. Once I feel really strong I'll do the same on Clair (not quite such a steady Eddie).

Monday, October 3, 2016

More wisdom from Suzanne

I try to read and memorize every piece of email advice Suzanne sends me. In the run up to the show, and immediately after, I received lots of helpful suggestions! I was able to incorporate some of it into my rides at the show, and I've been trying very hard to remember all of it in my training rides since then.

Unfortunately, one-sided-ness is "the story of our life" as riders. Each side must be ridden a little different from the other. Just be sure to pump the stiff rein no matter which way you are going. Don't hang on too long. At the same time, sit down in the saddle. Open chest, tighten core (pull in stomach).

I hope the advice I sent yesterday helped your ride or at least gave you something to work on. Remember to stabilize the horse's neck between the shoulders. Keep it as straight as possible. That is the only way balance will be improved by half-halts reaching the hind fetlock.

I am glad to hear the halt is better.

Your position needs to be stabilized, too. Sit tall, but DOWN! Drape your legs along the sides of the horse and down into the heel. Too much bend in the knee, causes your leg to "crab up" and pop you off the saddle. For sitting medium trot, legs don't squeeze. It's all about balance on your seat bones - bearing down.

Send me any problems or questions or misunderstandings that come up this week. Hugs, Sue


Leg CAN come on in downward canter transitions - as in all down transitions (scissor action to maintain bend, with some inside seat bone, as in canter depart). Seat is for forward, legs for collection which leads to downward trans. Also, in the medium trot from the seat, remember to give her support with your hands. It should feel as if she is pulling on you a little more. Occasionally, you can "squeeze like a sponge" to keep her from getting locked up. In other words, more in the hand should not become stiff in the poll. You can see that this will only enhance her acceptance of the bit and prevent curling.

P.S. Timing, timing, timing! Get into the rhythm of each gait.


I think you are "right on" in your observations. Sitting trot w/o stirrups is fine, but then you have to be able to keep it up when you pick them back up. It's all about your core and bearing down and only bracing your back when your seat bones hit the saddle. Keeping shoulders back is important. You rarely, if ever, hollow your back, so don't worry about a slight curve. It would actually look elegant. Look up to keep your head lined up over your spine. Mykola used to make us look up at the rafters in the indoor!

Your lower body in general has too much movement. There has to be some control without tightness. It's more about turning toes and knees in. In other words, maintaining a position without clamping. Try to stretch your calf muscles, too.

I realized this week that if, while riding, I can see my hands and/or the pommel, my head is tipped too far forward. So I've been focusing on making sure my head is up enough at all times. I'm also playing with all sorts of variations in my sitting trot to try to improve it. I had forgotten how much no-stirrup work kills the abdominals!