October 21, 2008

Riding lesson

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Isis and I had a riding lesson this afternoon/evening. I hadn’t been able to ride on Monday. I had to make up time from Friday when I left early to take Stella to the vet’s.

My instructor asked me what I would like to work on. This was the perfect opportunity to work on problems pointed out by the show:

  • How do you correct a horse who isn’t listening and is more interested watching everyone else instead of paying attention?
  • How do you encourage a horse to accept the bit and bend when they start fighting you?

We focused on ways to get Isis to pay more attention by asking her for a bend when she starts not paying attention. You can tell when Isis isn’t paying attention because her ears aren’t flicking back nor does she listen to cues. To encourage her to bend, I pushed with my inside leg whenever her inside rear leg moved forward. The cue also involves dropping the right hip slightly and imagining pulling the horse over to the outside with your hip. I also squeezed lightly with the inside rein and held her with my outside leg. We worked on riding round (instead of oval) circles and also on leg yielding out.

This sounds pretty easy but when you are in a hunt saddle with shortened stirrup leather lengths, it’s hard. I finally dropped my stirrups and rode as if I was sitting in a dressage saddle. With my leg more fully wrapped around her, she immediately responded and was able to do what I asked. Our communication was improved.

My riding lesson was only 30 minutes, but by the end of it my leg muscles were screaming.

Unfortunately, riding dressage in a hunt saddle isn’t good for the legs nor the bum. My hunt saddle places me in the appropriate position for riding hunt seat. Sitting as if I’m in a dressage saddle means I sit back farther and have my legs longer. I could only do that a few times around the work area before I had to stop.

The riding lesson made me realize how important it is to have the right saddle when you want to work with your horse. If I’m going to be riding dressage tests and doing more than just hunt seat, I need to have the proper saddle so my lower back doesn’t hurt every time I ride.

Excellent lesson, great learning. Need new (or good quality used) dressage saddle.

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