Improving The Feel
While i'm proud to say I absolutely crushed my admittedly
easy attainable December Goals, the past few rides I have been trying to go against my natural nit-picking perfectionist personality as a rider, and just working on me - both my confidence, and my feel.
While people say riding a horse is like riding a bike, perhaps there is some merit in that for the weekend cowboy or casual pleasure rider, but for those who ride with purpose it is a gross miscalculation of what actually goes into a schooling session. I know this, because I literally feel like I was in a car accident since getting back in the tack and putting the focus on my own body. When your body is flabby and loose in all the wrong areas and it wants to naturally do the opposite of what you're telling it to, it makes it really frustrating. My body and I have some pretty heated conversations, especially while tracking to the right, sometimes they're even out loud.. I'm not crazy, you're crazy.
Due to an old injury, I find it really difficult to track to the right.. add an OTTB to the mix, and the struggle is real. Much hard, guys. My body wants to ride to the left, while my hip and weight drop to my right seat bone regardless of which way I'm going. I have to physically pull my right shoulder back and focus on staying long and centered on the floor of my seat, and as soon as I try and work on something else the hamsters that inhabit my brain rebel because they can only do one thing at a time and I have to remind myself again how to position myself. Additionally, I currently require my left leg wayyy more than my right, regardless of which direction i'm going because Sierra has decided she's just a wee beeb OTTB and travelling to the right is really, really hard. Mom said so!
When tracking left, Sierra is inclined to drop her inside shoulder and drift inward as a result. For the most part, she's much straighter this way but when things get hard she wants to lean in and as such I have been working on my "X" analogy which a clinician this summer educated me on. If you missed it, it consists of Part 1 of the X being inside leg to outside rein, and the other, less discussed Part 2, being outside leg to inside rein. To the left, it's relatively simple in comparison to the dreaded right rein. Forward, Flexion, Connection. Easy Peasy.... but that being said, I find myself using my left leg a lot to support her and keep on the desired track, while my right leg is just kind of.. there.
While travelling on the right rein, we literally feel like a Boeing 747 in a nose dive. It's an atrocious feeling and I have been working diligently to remain aware without losing my cool as I slowly pick away at it. One thing I find really interesting about it, is that even going to the right, my left leg is over-working. To the left, Sierra wants to drop in and to the right she wants to drift left. My natural desire (as is most riders, even if we don't want to admit it), is to hang on the right rein because even though my left leg is embedded in her rib cage, the results aren't 'enough'. So what do I do? Continue to remind myself why I am, for the most part, an amateur. I continue to pull and kick like an unreasonable toddler and eventually get so frustrated I
give up re-install my logical trainers brain and try something else; something productive. Now granted, I say I pull and kick but realistically, Sierra would probably pile me if I did that - but that's what it feels like, so I will paint it in that unflattering light for the sake of imagery. Of course, while all this flogging and floundering occurs, my right hip comes up, my weight drops back inward, my ribs collapse and my hands get busy - because aimlessly fiddling with the reins fixes everything, right? I mean, I think we're getting it and making some improvements, but the feeling of a locked shoulder/wither/base of neck when tracking right is really frustrating and confusing to both of us.
|I'll be doing a review on this bridle in the near future!|
Sierra had shown some pretty piss-poor behavior when I lent her to a friend on a whim, but ultimately she reminds me daily how god damn lucky I am to have her because she hasn't tried anything even remotely similar with me, despite me being my very own struggle-bus upon her back. I recognize she has some issues tracking to the right, but I also remind myself daily that she was pretty darn even when I bought her and Kidd developed really similar issues tracking to the right which affected his soundness - related or not, it's always in the forefront of my mind and perhaps that's what has shed such a beautiful light on this journey with Sierra so far. Every day, even the bad ones, I'm reminded how truly grateful I am for this horse. I hope one day I can look back and be like "ha, remember when I was an infant and couldn't ride to the right to save my life?", but I have a sneaking suspicion it will always be an issue - though hopefully on a much smaller scale.
While I continue to school without educated eyes (or any eyes, for that matter) on the ground I am continuing to work on improving the reaction to my left aids (esp my left leg), while lengthening myself and remaining centered and grounded on the floor of my seat. Since shedding a couple of pounds, I feel much more "in" my saddle rather than "on" it and this has been helping my feel immensely, but i'm still doodling aimlessly all over my mental drawing board trying to decipher this caustic dilemma.
|Trying to learn how to ride both directions 15 years later|