Drawing the Bigger Picture: Part II

This didn’t get out Friday because I got caught up at the barn, trying to assess whether Foster is still sore from our jumping last weekend, or if there is something shoe-related going on there. I won’t even consider that it might be something else until tomorrow. *Sigh* Anyways, until then, here are the rest of our brainy break throughs (part 1 here) from the week of lessons.

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Effectiveness of the Seat
To be a dressage queen is to have a good seat. But the seat is also important in jumping, as the rider has to make decisions about two-pointing versus sitting versus sticking close to the saddle (the last is BC’s phrase, used before XC fences). In dressage, I am really focusing on using my weight properly in the half-passes. I’m also working to fight against my own natural confirmation, the dreaded hollow-back ghetto booty combination, that makes it hard for me to stick with the full circle of movement my hips should make in the canter. For showjumping, Bobby emphasized a lighter seat and as previously mentioned, moving from galloping position to sticking “closer to the saddle” upon approach. One seat, used lots of different ways!

Locked on the fence- also, this photo just makes me laugh

Locked on the fence- also, this photo just makes me laugh [Portofino CT Oct 2013]

Commitment Issues
Damn all that baggage of the past. Committing to a course of action is an absolute necessity with jumping, and being less than confident can sometimes have dire consequences. BC picked up immediately on when I became anything less than a fence-eating-machine, and as of course, so did Foster. In his words, I am not to ride pathetically, and having that confidence and grit will help me be a quieter rider by not feeling the need to make any “big moves” in front of the fences. For dressage, commitment means being clear in my instructions and the level of my expectations. Even if it is a trot to walk transition, the horse should “land” going forward and in a good balance, not petering out or falling on the forehand into a lazy amble. It’s up to the rider to commit to asking for all those details, and thinking about these things until it becomes habit.

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Thinking about the Landing
How many times have I heard this one? Probably a bajillion times, but it really resonated when BC asked us to halt in 5 strides after the gymnastic. That shit is hard. And why is it hard? Maybe because my horse is not used to expecting something to happen on the landing. Halting after fences is one of the big take-aways from our showjumping lesson, and a wonderful exercise for getting a horse listening. In the June Jump lesson, we did something similar in making small circles after landing from a fence before continuing on to another element. And guess what- in dressage, you know what is a great way to get a horse focused on you and “keyed up to your seat”? Transitions. Forward, backward, halt, etc. Never should we just careen around the arena without a plan, and that was the point I’ve finally figured out this week.

It’s going to take real discipline to remember all of these, and surely there will be times when I forget one or more of these major points. On the flip side, I really do think that if anyone can master all of these issues they would gain major ground in becoming a better rider. And that is, of course, what I aspire to be.

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11 thoughts on “Drawing the Bigger Picture: Part II

  1. I have the same conformation as you… big butt with a dip in my lower back… and it takes WORK to get past it!! I commiserate! But it is possible to strengthen yourself so that the shape of your body doesn’t hold you back. 🙂

  2. I LOVE the idea of committing to every single thing- my trainer is always telling me the same thing, and it’s something I’m working on hard. I’m totally digging your brainy breakthroughs 🙂

    • This was a big deal too in BC’s lesson- I got in big trouble when I just threw the reins at Foster at the end of each gymnastic… It’s really tough to think through every move during your ride, but even the God of H/J, George Morris says that any time you are in the saddle you are training the horse, for better or worse. Damn that’s a lot of responsibility!

  3. ugh the ‘effectiveness of the seat’ is SO elusive to me! i went from a super light perch-y hunteresque type seat to trying to stay down in the saddle but ultimately being way to heavy and driving… where’s the balance?!? but really, excellent points all around – these are all things i’d like to work on!! (also i hope Foster’s ok and that it’s just a little residual soreness!)

  4. Whenever Kenna realises which jump we’re about to take, it feels like she’s saying, “Target locked, initiating launch sequence, and…GO!!”

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