Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Freight train to Ferrari

Sometimes it's those "Ah ha!" moments that make all the difference.

Turning right, Gabe drives like a freight train: All power, no finesse. We could do huge, lop-sided, painfully crooked rather pathetic turns all day long. But, circles to the right resembling circles and not amoebas? Out of the question.

So, yesterday, I decided I was really going to think about what I was doing up there. Because I KNOW he can turn right, I've seen him do it in the pasture countless times, effortlessly and with an incredible amount of athleticism and grace.

I knew it was something I was doing wrong.

And I was right.

I concentrated on my body as we headed into a right turn...and wouldn't you know it. My right shoulder and waist immediately collapsed, which dropped my right seat bone into him and pushed him...that's correct...pushed him LEFT! He was just doing what my body was asking and I was clueless about what my body was asking. See what happens when we get lazy about paying attention to our bodies? Bad habits abound!

He was being good...and I was committing an all-too-common rider sin over and over and over again. Imagine how confused the poor guy was, being asked to do the same thing over and over and not understanding what he wasn't doing right. Because that big, wonderful boy, he's a pleaser and I could tell he was starting to get as frustrated as I was.

Once this information clicked I could concentrate on keeping my body upright, my shoulders squared, body centered and balanced in the middle of him without collapsing to either side and keeping my seatbones evenly balanced on either side of his spine, following the direction of his shoulders.

And wouldn't you know it, as soon as I got ME straightened out...he turned right beautifully!

The freight train became a Ferrari. And I rejoiced.


  1. That's so true - very often it's something we're doing that makes it hard, or even impossible, for the horse to do what we're asking. Very cool that you were able to figure it out and fix it!

  2. Way to go! More often than not, a horse's "problem" turns out to be ours. I've noticed that a lot of the OTTBs I've ridden seem to be harder to turn to the right (to many left turns on the track??). They need a lot of help from us!

  3. That is so great that you could figure the problem out on your own. I always need a coach or someone to point things out before I have an 'aha' moment.

  4. Kate...when I have a problem I always look at myself first...the horse is just reflecting what we are asking, even if we are unaware of it!

    Pony Girl...exactly! OTTBs can be difficult to get to go right, but they pick it up pretty quickly (they are the smartest, after all!), as long as we are asking correctly.

    Kathy...a lot of my rides are spent thinking about what I'm doing, especially when I'm having an issue. And I do quite a bit of analyzing the ride AFTER the ride. I also have quite a few past clinics/lessons that I draw on, too and I can't wait until I can get Gabe to a couple of local clinics sometime soon! I do a LOT of reading about training, particularly theoretical reading about dressage and why the horse responds the way he does.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been so frustrated when riding Doc as he makes the most lopsided attempts at circles and his neck is like spaghetti and we never end up where I intended. You are right....I need to look more critically at what I am doing. I can't wait to get out and try it again. Duh! (Hit myself upside the head!)