Sunday, 13 April 2014

Photo Dump

The same friend as last week very kindly took photos & videos of myself and Kika's spin yesterday. K was in funny form and had plenty pep in her step as will be seen in vids and photos,  she is such a character.

I really like this photo despite me doing SO MUCH wrong
I cannot complain though as despite the fizz & spice in her step at no time did I feel insecure or threatened by her behaviour and I cannot blame her for being spicy as she had only been ridden (rushed) on Tuesday.

My friend (who is sadly leaving for another yard at the end of this month) kindly offered constructive feedback about my lax outside rein which made an immediate difference to our bad side's always the simple things I'm doing wrong - now if only I could remember that and FIX them we could make even more progress.

In one of the comments after last weekends post someone (so sorry I cannot remember who) suggested an excercise to help train my heels down. Namely I stand up in the stirrups when warming up at walk & trot (am not balanced enough to do it at canter) and I really concentrated on keeping the weight in my heels and not using them to nudge but rather trying to squeeze with my calves...far from perfect but in the photos my friend got I can see a slight improvement!
Baby steps and I WILL eventually get there...I hope.

I need to shorten my reins and lift my hands & bend the wrists...yikes
Sadly there are no photos or videos of Nancy, which in the long run is probably just as well as N and I have hit another teething phase where she keeps giraffe'ing and pretending not to know what I'm asking for when I want her to bend on the right rein...I do not hold it against her though as I am sure it is my fault as that is my bad side and I am probably all sorts of crooked and therefore knocking her off balance.

Shameless mirror selfie taken today as otherwise there'd be no Nancy in this post

That's not to say she isn't taking advantage ;-)
She has hit the teenage years so I'm hoping to get some eyes on the ground with her this week to see where I am going wrong and/or where she is making fun of me :-p

I worked on more of the same with both today with about the same results from both, as I said though I cannot complain as they were both only sat on once this week. Fingers crossed the few days I am here this coming week (we go to Ireland for Easter on Thursday) I can string a couple of productive riding sessions together. :-D

I did not realise my mug was in frame oops
Right no more talking from me...on with the media dump.

Sitting trot - as always i need work, weird combo of leaning back yet collapsed middle
& horse sneaking btv

Self video analysis - please contribute if evidenced from above footage; i need all the help i can get :-p

Video 1:
- Yikes my heels are again shocking, oddly they look better in most of the photo sbapshots - but there it is in colour before my eyes when she gets fussy with me i revert immediately back to nasty heel nagging habit!

Video 2:
Some "good" side cantering; takeaways from this viewing...HEELS DOWN; shorten reins & SIT in the saddle - no wonder she be throwing herself around when i'm as secure as a bobble head bopping about on her back!

Video 3:
Funnily (to me) my heel is better on this rein, our collective bad side. Takeaways from viewing this video; again shorten my reins; look up, shoulders back and be softer in my hands so she has less to say to me.

Video 4:
I need to carry my hands in front of me and get them out of my lap! I also need to better prepare & set her up for the canter transitions - should help to get the correct lead...right?!

Video 5:
Good God my reins are way too long!!! And she is a deceptive little so and so, that canter looks a lot smoother than it felt to ride; I'll tell you that for nothing! In the saddle it felt like she was flailing and tossing her legs about underneath me - what a sod; looks nothing lile that in the video...should i push her foreard more or any suggestions beside to obvious SHORTEN THE DANG REINS!

Massive thanks to whoever reads this far and comments, i don't deserve friends like you!


  1. You crack me up :) It sounds like you know most of the things that you need to fix, you just need eyes on the ground to remind you maybe? Not necessarily a trainer, just someone that can point out when you are reverting back to your habits. K is lovely! Don't forget the things you are doing right and to give yourself some credit too! It's not easy when you don't have a trainer around all of the time to help you, you're not doing bad at all.

    1. Eyes on the ground and someone to shout at me is invaluable hahaha...isn't that a trainer in a nutshell? ;-)
      Hopefully this autumn/winter I can start taking lessons with a new trainer at the yard...not much point now as the horses are going on 24/7 next month off-site so we'll be hacking in the woods for 4 months break from arenas :-D

  2. ha these are the same two big take aways I got from my kofford clinic... SHORTER REINS AND MORE CONTACT (feels so weird- just have to remember to release when he releases, but having more weight in my hands is OK) and stretching into my heels. I do the same thing in dressage drawing up my lower leg- I think really its just compensating for a weak leg. Instead of using my whole leg, easier to draw it up and just use my heel in his side :)P I know that standing up exercise is very helpful for jumping- I should try it in my dressage saddle as well! You had some great moments though :)

    1. I ride N in the dressage saddle, the knee blocks are so hard that I ride super long so standing is really difficult as my stirrups are already so long haha.
      You guys looked awesome in the photos and videos, you're leagues ahead of me and my pocket ponies!

  3. I (as you) have nothing to add as far as opinions or helpful hints go. I would like to say that your post reminds me a lot of my recent ones (a little on the negative side towards ourselves). You're a good rider! We all have stuff to work on (says Shakey Hands McGee), and it's the people who are willing to acknoweldge those things and work on them that progress and succeed! :) We're heading in the right direction!

    1. You are 100% right, being willing to work & striving to fix our faults is deff on the right path. Heck isolating things to work on is half the battle ;-)
      Not sure about the being a good rider part - still can't get the basics down, needs to crack this heel thing onve and for all!

  4. Aw, you guys are looking pretty darn good! I'm going to agree with AlchemyEventing above and suggest that you're drawing your leg up because it's too weak to use it in the right position. That's my big problem. I don't seem to have the strength to properly use my leg in the right place, so instead I try to put my knees in my lap. Not useful. Bah.

    1. Aw thanks, you're too kind. The videos make me cringe but I need them to see what I am still doing wrong and hope to finally make headway correcting the longstanding issues.
      Another blog I recently started reading reviewed a book about rider physiology affecting the way we ride & that people like myself with long thighs tend to grip with their knees - which I am deff very guilty of; another reason my heels sneak up. My legs are week though so shall deff try to strengthen them up :-D

  5. Yeah you're just like me. You know what you're supposed to be doing, but when riding you totally forget to do it LOL! That's why I'm dying to have lessons again for someone to yell at me. I like the idea of standing in the stirrups to stretch the heels down. I need to work on that.

    For your hands I have a few suggestions. I grew up riding Western so I'm HORRIBLE about having my arms too straight and my hands too low. Here is what my trainer used to tell me. She said to chant, "Light hands, heavy elbows". This helps keep bend in the elbow and keep hands out of your lap too. A couple of exercises she did with me is the whip trick where you place a whip behind your back but in front of both elbows. I'm BAD about collapsing in the middle kind of like your are (I have a weak core) so the whip makes me sit up and bend my elbows while keeping them close to my body (I'm bad about chicken wings at the canter hehe). The other thing is a bucking strap on the front of your saddle (you can just tie baling twine between the two D-rings on the front of your saddle). Holding onto the bucking straps gets your hands up and close together (yours are way too far apart for an adult horse, not criticizing, just trying to help). Since I was used to riding with one hand (western) the bucking strap really helped me figure out how to ride with my hands together. The bucking strap makes it easy to fall back into straight elbows though so it's good to switch between that and the whip. She never made me do either of them for very long (definitely not the whole lesson) just for a few minutes at a time to help me "feel" how I was supposed to be sitting. I had a lot of posture issues (from learning to ride without instruction) that she had to correct (and will probably have to correct again lol) and those are a few things she had me do. I hope some of them might be useful for you too!

    Oh and I forgot about the legs. When you draw your heels up it's because you're gripping (or it was when I was doing it). My trainer had me raise my legs off of the horse so that nothing was touching the saddle (not even my thighs) and then put them back down. This allowed them to go back into the proper position naturally. I was bad about riding with the back of my leg so doing that and concentrating on facing my toe forward got more of the inside of my thigh and calf against the saddle. I still have trouble with that one lol.

    Keep up the great work! Kika looks awesome. The outside rein that your friend mentioned is definitely making a difference. :D

    1. Thanks for all the helpful tips, shall see if i can find a sturdy whip to put behind my elbows - i think the dressage/schooling whip I have is too flexible and will move with my arms not keeping me as straight as i want. ;-)


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