Thursday, April 30, 2015

JM 3 - Sit up

I went over to JM's farm to ride one of her horses yesterday, and let me just tell you: green horses are hard, but a lot of that is the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you desperately try to answer the age-old question "will I live or die today?!"

Well-trained horses on the other hand, are tricky because they JUST DO SO MANY THINGS ALL THE TIME.

For example, if I go all hunter/jumper and twist my seat strangely through a turn, preso! A canter I get.

And then, because I'm already perched a hair, and my seat isn't really coordinated, closing my fingers on the reins produces, like MAGIC, a smaller canter. And then I repeat, thinking "please just trot I'm supposed to be practicing my sitting trot" and I get an EVEN SMALLER CANTER.

At this point I had a bit of a peanut gallery and I was feeling thoroughly as if I'd never ridden before.

Egads though this horse was so cool to ride, despite my faint desire to rip my hair out.

The brakes, when I actually used my body like, you know, you're supposed to, were super neat. It sort of reminded me of how, although Tango does in fact do a downward transition when asked, he does not do downward transitions like a PSG horse.

The biggest difference is how well you can feel his back engage as he goes to halt. It's not just a quick halt, even though it is. It's controlled. It's the difference between scrambling to a halt and floating to a halt, even though they happen in the same amount of time.

I've jumped a lot since I last saw JM, and she was pretty displeased with how I was sitting, and kept having me sit more and more back. I swear to god I was so far behind the vertical that my ponytail was going to tickle Placidio's hindquarters.

I wanted to ask JM for a photo, but my abs were in so much pain that I was entirely distracted.
I did ride Tango later, and tried to replicate the feeling I got when I was sitting up the way JM wanted me to, and I've never gotten such great gaits from him. I will try to get photographic evidence to help prove to myself that I'm not just riding like a cowboy and leaning too far back. 
We did some leg-yielding and JM showed me how when I want more crossover, I for some bizarre reason resort to digging my heel into a horse's side, which causes the horse to tense up and get less crossover. So she helped me use my thigh and calf a bit more.

We did a bunch of ten meter circles and I got a very intense schooling on what is and is not a circle (listen kids, you are not the only riders in the world who struggle with this).

I rode a few canter-walk transitions. Apparently I am not asking for enough collection before asking for the downward transition, but admittedly I couldn't feel the difference in my body when I got it right. I'm pretty sure I did nothing different and Placidio guessed for me. Bless his heart.

JM, as I mentioned earlier, was displeased with my perching, and by way of education she got on for me.

God, I want to ride like that. I believe that with enough hard work and after asking enough people for help, I'll be able to get close to that. But she's a beautiful rider, and Placidio simply danced.

I'd kept pushing him forward during the warm up and JM had told me to cut it out, he's got enough shoulder action, but I didn't quite know what she meant until I saw her on him. Gorgeous horse.

And then I got back on, and did my best to ride like her, and I think it was improved. She swore at me a bit less :-P

 I am so lucky to have the trainers that I do. Kat's got a very bright future with these giants standing behind us, pushing me to be a better rider every day.


  1. sounds intense but super productive!! i'm working on my perching habit too - but my trainer is fixing my seat first, which has a temporary side effect of pushing my upper body even farther forward...

    why on earth is it so difficult to get that nice pretty dressage queen position??? lol

    1. Dude seriously I cannot agree with you enough on that last statement.

      Good luck with the seat thing! So hard not to get impatient and try to skip trainer's advice when you see one thing deteriorating...

  2. You really are lucky to have access to a trainer and horse like that! What a fantastic experience. Definitely different from the green beans, but so valuable.

    1. Having some sense of where we're headed is a remarkably good thing and I'm super lucky!

  3. Great post - really got me thinking about green horses v. trained horses... all of a sudden you get comfortable with greenies and project horses and feeling like "hey look at the tricks I can teach them, they have manners and move nicely now", then you move onto a very trained, high level horse and i've had moments of "woah, woah, woah... what is this horse riding business?" It makes me appreciate those that truly bring horses from beginnings to exceptionally high levels all by themselves, it takes a lot of talent.

    Sounds like you are getting to that level too though - I miss having a giant behind me, mine moved away, and that's what I feel I am lacking lately. haha

    1. Exactly! I couldn't have summed it up better myself.

      And thank you! I'm working so hard to improve and sometimes it's disheartening knowing that this'll be my whole life and other times I just can't wait to see what's ahead. You'll find someone else to help inspire and push you, I'm certain of it.