Sunday, December 4, 2011

A "Back to Basics" Lesson...

My New Best Friend...
 My work schedule and my neck (post lawn dart trauma) have both calmed down enough to allow a return to more regular lessons.  The thing is, my fitness and my confidence aren't where they were before the fall.  Well duh, of course not, right?  So, what do you do when you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of your abilities?  You retrench and go back to basics, of course!  In this case, the longe line.

I'm a big believer in function following form.  I feel that my horse's ability to do her job effectively depends largely on my ability to do mine correctly.  One of the issues I have when jumping a a course is that as the course progresses the more out-of-control I feel things get.  As identified in my lesson with Eric Horgan and in lessons with my trainer, one of the things I have a problem with is recovery after the fence.  Specifically, I need to stop congratulating myself on surviving for three strides after the fence and just sit up and ride.  We think that the issue is my core strength and tendency to jump ahead. 

Hence, the longe line.  Lots of work without stirrups.  Sitting trot, posting trot (owwwwww!) arms up in airplane position w/ arms still (as opposed to flapping like leaves in gale force winds) and two point (double owwwww!)  Rinse and repeat in canter.  Anyone care to guess what color my face was?  I'll give you a hint -we're talking somewhere north of fuchsia on the color scale.  I really liked the airplane arms exercises, as it really allows you to feel how your core and back can be strong and supple and completely independent from your upper back and elastic arms.

Another fun (and painful) exercise we did was the drop your stirrups at the posting trot and then pick them up again.  Sounds easy, right?  Umm, not so much.  At least not for me.  You know the phrase a monkey humping a football?  I'm imagining it looked somewhat like that. 

After that we did some work cantering a low fence with me putting my hands out in airplane position.  Again, working on my balance.  Let me tell you, you need a STRONG lower leg position and core in order to pull this off.  As I have neither, lets just say the silver lining here is that there's nowhere to go but up!  We then did some work over a small gymnastic to concentrate some more on keeping my body still, and wrapped the lesson up by sending me over a small course to see if the whole "keeping the body still and not jumping ahead of the horse" thing had gotten any traction.

I'm pleased to report that there was some progress.  Clearly I have a long way to go, and thankfully there's a long winter in front of me with many longe lessons and no stirrup work.

In the meantime, I'm off to go find the Tiger Balm and a hot pack.


  1. Going back to the basics always helps me ride better when I feel like a cannot get past a hurdle. Glad you feel like you had some progress

  2. Love Tiger Balm, and your blog too!