Friday, December 20, 2013
I love it when I have an Epiphany in my riding! Sometimes things just fall together and an elusive concept suddenly materializes. I had one of those days yesterday and am so excited! Putting together several concepts I have heard over time from several different trainers, trying to hit on a certain feel, but never quite getting across the point. I think it all fell into place yesterday. It started with lungeing first and getting the horse to "disengage" the hind end (as put by some natural horsemanship trainers), which to me is actually the ENGAGEMENT of the hindquarters, getting them to step up underneath of themselves with the inside hind leg. This is a very important concept if you would like your horse to get balanced, bend through the rib cage, keep their shoulders upright, and be soft and supple. How do you make all of that happen on the ground? Well, it starts with getting the horse forward and then teaching them to move their hindquarters and forequarters and to keep their focus to the inside. Lots of hindquarter engagement, and leg yields, changes of circle size, and pushing them faster and slowing down within gaits. Really watching for balance and getting the horse over their back and supple is important! Then when I got on, I was combining the theory of hind-end engagement started in the groundwork and trying to transfer it into the saddle work. Snapping the heel down and back, snapping the leg OFF the horse to use the "leg" aids, thereby activating the seat, finding that there is actually a "diagonal" even in sitting trot. Doing LOTS of work at the walk to get the same supple balance found on the ground when engaging the hind end. And then practicing it in the sitting trot, pushing evenly through both legs when going straight, and pushing more through my inside leg when turning or circling. That was when I discovered that I must also be in sync with the trot diagonal! What a revelation!! Then I applied the concept in the canter and found that I was better at pushing through my inside leg on the left lead than on my right. Something else to work on! So, it was a combination of groundwork ("disengaging" the hindquarters, doing leg yields on the lunge, backing, balancing, etc), things instructors had said over the years ( go slow, bring the shoulders to the inside, make your inside leg like a post for the horse to bend around), and a lot of watching horses and riders, that finally led me to my epiphany in riding and I am so excited to see where it takes me and how I can help others!