Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Interesting Discovery

Maisie and I shared an interesting discovery today - or rather a rediscovery on my part - I suspect she knew it all along. We've been working on our transitions, and her tendency to want to go faster and then "curl up" at the trot. This has most often occurred when we're working along and she gets excited and wants to go faster, and then my hands get in the way. We've been working on my using half-halts with my seat instead of my hands to ask for slowing the tempo and transitions up and down, and that's been going pretty well. But when she trots for a longer period, she starts to want to do the curl up thing again as she builds up energy.

I was trying out some sitting trot today to communicate better with her when I half-halt with my seat. All of a sudden she was just there - the contact was just right - not too heavy but she wasn't avoiding the bit and curling up either, and her motion was supple and fluid, with a lot of engagement. It was like riding a different horse. There was a huge amount of energy there, but it wasn't ending up in my hands or in her wanting to race or getting agitated when she couldn't. There was a softness throughout her body, but animation and even fire as well.

We did a variety of exercises - lots of transitions - 3 strides walk, 3 strides trot, 4 strides walk, 4 strides trot, etc. After a little bit, she was really getting these well. We also did some spiral in and spiral out exercises, using inside leg to outside hand on the outwards movements and even a bit of leg yield. Then we did some leg yields down the quarter line to the rail and then back out again. Everything was excellent. She even did some lengthening of the trot into something approximating medium trot, without losing the tempo. The halt and backing were right there as well. I was delighted!

I'm not really certain why things were working so much better for her when I sit rather than posting. It likely has something to do with my hands, which often are a trouble point for me. Perhaps my hands are just quieter at the sitting trot, allowing her to find a soft contact. Or it could have been my posture. I don't know. But at least it's working, and I'll take that.


  1. Two things probably. The first is most likely steadier hands. It is very difficult to use you hands really well when posting. But, secondly when you do sitting trot, it is much easier and more natural for the horse to actually "want" to lift its back under your seat and carry itself. You have much more control of where your weight is as well, but I think the key is, for a horse that understands how to go correctly on the bit, getting soft and round is a much more comfortable way to carry your weight.

    Sounds like a great session with Maisie. I'd bet she was as pleased as you.

  2. Sounds like a good ride. I sometimes play this game in which I place my hands in a certain location and then post up and down, willing my hands not to move. It means extending my arms while I am up and bending the elbows while I am down. It helps me take my mind off how tired I am if I've been posting for a long time.

  3. How interesting! I imagine it has to do with your hands, although I wonder about leg cues - you can cue on the up and down when you're sitting. But when you post you lose half of that, right?

    I'm glad to hear you've figured this out. You just never know what's going to work...

  4. I agree, quieter hands probably has something to do with it. Also, like Breathe I also thought of leg cues. But finally, I wonder if they simply read our physical cues better when our seats are making contact -- I imagine posting takes quite a bit of that away.

  5. What a great feeling. Sounds like the two of your connected on a deeper level. I wonder if this will be a sign of even better things to come? :)


  6. I live for rides like that when everything seems to come together. Thanks for passing along the description as it reminds us all that we can have that same type of ride as well!


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