Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All about the balance

The holidays went fairly smoothly here, the SO's side of the family invaded our house and we had 13 people here on Thanksgiving.  As a result there was some chaos but it was fairly well contained and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  We have also had our first snow of the season and as I look out my window I see a light coating of snow on the ground for the third day in a row.  Just enough to coat the grass while about a third of the grass still sticks through.  It snowed about a half inch on Sunday and has dwindled since, not going away like I would prefer.  Blech, I may not like winter but at least everyone has their heated water buckets, winterizing the chicken coop and pasture is complete and our firewood is cut, split, stacked and seasoned.  At least I am ready for it.

So.  What have I done the past two weeks?  Well, I have been really busy.  Between lessons, preparing for company, having company and cleaning I haven't had time to do much.  I have, however, been able to sneak in a couple of rides!  After my last jumping ride, where it hurt to even walk the next day, I realized I need to get back in shape and round is not the appropriate shape.  I also need to get my bad leg back to where it is supposed to be.  My right knee is obviously weaker than my left knee and I need to fix that.  The best way I have found to build muscle is either two point or bareback so I chose bareback this time.  I had ridden the App bareback a little while ago and did okay, I haven't ridden the TWH bareback since about 2009 so he was my choice.

I was pretty impressed when the TWH stood nice and still while I hopped on, with his randomly spooky nature I half expected him to move around while I was clamoring aboard.  We started at a nice walk and I tried riding in a bridge like H had suggested in our last lesson, it went pretty badly.  The TWH was above the bit, fighting with me and was certainly not in the outside rein.  Since I had no plan other than to work on myself, I switched gears and spent almost a half hour working on nothing but the walk, pushing the TWH into the outside rein.  It did take a while but with a lot of bending, pushing and reminding the TWH stopped hanging on the inside rein and stayed in the outside rein.  He isn't perfect at it but once he gets onto the outside rein I am successfully able to ride him in a bridge!  Success!

Once I had him pretty firmly in the outside rein I picked up some trot to the right and I was horrified.  Mortified!  I started bouncing around, was off balance and tried to fall off!  I was very happy no one was around to see the mess I was being and after several attempts of going right I switched direction and started going left.  How had I let my riding get so bad?  Had I not ridden bareback in that long?  I know the TWH is harder to ride because his movement is much more exaggerated then the App's but still, I was embarrassed at myself.  I started to the left and, after getting the TWH back into the outside rein, I asked for a trot and it was... good.  Huh?  There was no bouncing, no flopping, no balance issues.  After a second lap, puzzled, I turned around and went right again, how was I so different?  About a half lap into the the right circle I realized the difference, my right/inside leg was not doing it's job.  Instead of securing me to the horse, it was taking a siesta!  Bad leg!!!

I spent the rest of the ride forcing my right leg to activate and it was a lot harder then I expected.  As soon as I stopped thinking "Leg!", it would stop doing it's job.  Once activated by thinking "Leg!", however, my flopping, bouncing and unbalanced self disappeared and I was once again riding correctly.  Go figure.  Lots of transitions and circles to the right later I called it a night, the TWH had earned his dinner.  I rode bareback on the TWH again last night and the difference was amazing.  While I still had to force my bad leg to work, it worked much better than my previous ride and I wasn't embarrassed to have anyone see me ride lol.  It has been a pretty amazing light bulb moment, suddenly realizing just how little my right leg was doing.  I am now back on track and hopefully I will fix this problem quickly.  Nothing a little bareback riding won't fix right?!


  1. It was probably a defensive mechanism. Since you've been hurting for so long your right leg has had to adapt to protect itself. Now that you're consciously rebuilding you muscle memory it should get easier.... well that is my unprofessional guess anyway LOL! I'm glad it's improving. It must be sooo difficult to be held back by an injury like that. Hang in there. You will get it back!

    Also what the heck is bridging? I have no clue what that means and I can't even guess LOL!

    1. It really was a defensive mechanism that I had to overcome, my body was subconsciously protecting my bad leg. Thankfully that is mostly over.

      Bridging the reins is holding the reins normally and then crossing so the opposite hand holds it as well, so each hand holds both reins. I think this article talks about it best:

    2. Oh! That makes sense. So is she having you do that since you have a tendency to carry your hands too wide? Or to make contact more consistent? Can you tell I miss my dressage lessons? I miss all of this. :) I'll go read the article now!

    3. Guilty, I keep my hands wayyy to wide. I am getting a LOT better but still am working on it. Will see what she says on Thursday about my bad, bad hands. It is also supposed to help a lot with letting the reins slip through your hands or horses that pull the reins. You can then also use it to lean on by pushing it onto their withers if you need it to balance. It has been fun playing with bridging.