Monday, 24 August 2009

So some tips about riding the lazy horse....
The biggest trap is to kick repeatedly in a way that is usually described as nagging. Riders often lift their heel and turn their toe out as they do this, making more of a nudge than a kick. Sometimes when teaching I get riders to say the word 'kick' to me every time they kick - then I say the word 'kick' to them every time I see them kick - there is often a big discrepancy, which tells us both that they are using their leg on 'auto-pilot'. Many people learn to do this in their early days of riding lazy horses in the riding school, and never loose the habit. The rule is that if you use your leg, you have to mean it, and if you do not mean it, do not use it.
Think about getting out of bed in the morning, and think of telling yourself or someone else that they have to get out of bed. The conversation could just keep going 'You've got to', 'I don't want to', 'You've got to'.... in a never ending cycle of misery for both sides. Once you actually get out of bed, life is much better than it is when you are thinking about getting out of bed! So metaphorically, you might have to 'rip the bedclothes' off your horse. Once you have him out of bed, you might have to say 'Not with me you don't!' if he threatens to climb back in there - this is prevention rather than cure, and is far easier on you and him.
Sometimes I see people who are putting up a big show of trying to get their horse going forward, complete with backside shoving, legs nudging, and a lot of sweat. They are thrilled to be able to tell me that 'I am trying...' - but if they actually succeeded, they would probably be terrified! To try and to succeed are two different options, and for many riders succeeding is an act of courage, and so out of their 'comfort zone' that they make sure it never happens!
More on this next time!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Mary's training tips

I am finally a real person with friends on Facebook, so now is the time to connect them and you to my blog, and post a new riding/training tip each week. so here goes with my first offering......

If you are riding a speedy horse, your first job is to get control of the speed of his legs. The burning question is: does he move you, or do you move him? Whoever controls the speed and movement of your seat bones controls the speed and movement of his legs. We all like to think that we can slow down the horse's legs by pulling on the reins.. but no chance! The horse will probably get claustrophobic and move faster, not slower! Instead you need to slow down the speed of your seat bone movement, and often to make that movement smaller. Be sure you can feel your seat bones - if you are 'popping up' by tightenning the muscles betwen them and the saddle you will not be able to make this work.
Imagine the tip of a pencil attached to each seatbone. What lines/shapes would those pencils draw in each stride? Are they the same? Is one a deeper, darker more repeatable line, and one a random squiggle? Can you even them out? Can you slow them down, and make them smaller?
Exerpiment to find out the effects this has.
Good luck! we'll talk about lazy hores next time!