While reading M's recent post, she briefly touched on a simple concept: Letting go with her inside hip/thigh on the harder direction and while most readers probably continued reading with little regard to the concept, that short sentence stopped me in my tracks as I got lost in thought.
I've blamed my trouble riding to the right on an old hip injury and Sierra being an OTTB, but blaming it on something doesn't necessarily make it easier. For many years, I assumed because my right side is restricted due to the old scar tissue, it was weaker and therefor harder to track to the right but for shits and giggles I thought I would play with this theory.
To rule out the later consideration of it being a fluke, I got on and rode off like normal. I walked to the left, then went across the diagonal onto the right rein, and through the short side my lovely 2x4 horse was back, where I had to drill my left leg into her ribs and think of 'closing the door on the outside shoulder' to turn a very abrupt, square-like short side. As usual, regardless of the direction I was going, I had to way over-use my left leg. I did a few circles and suppling exercises and there was some improvement found but again, it was truly no different than any other ride. I continued to pilot the struggle bus around the arena on the right rein as I pondered the oddity of it all, considering i'm incredibly right-side dominant, so why is riding to the right so troublesome? Could an injury and an out of shape former race horse reverting back to old weak points be this big of a deal? And the real burning question - Kidd had oddly similar issues to the right and I am the common denominator of these equations.. My mind was going a mile a minute, and Sierra happily plodded around the uneven ground with little direction.
I went back across the diagonal onto the left rein (our good way), and rode a few circles at the far end, working on my X as previously mentioned in one of my recent posts, then tracked back onto the right rein. As I came to the corner after the diagonal, I tried this mystical idea of loosening my right thigh/hip. I over over-exaggerated it as I pulled my knee off the saddle slightly as I felt the pull through my hip flexor I continued to think about my body and as I continued to make minuscule adjustments I found myself on a circle paying little attention to my horse; lost in thought of adjusting my body. I suddenly realized, I was on a circle with a horse turning properly. The 2x4 that runs through Sierra's body and pokes out at either end was now a wet noodle; my left leg wasn't working as hard and I didn't have to work as hard to pull my inside shoulder back. I could ride the first part of the X (inside leg to outside rein), and it worked. What. The. Fuck.
This can't be. It can't be that easy, so went large and naturally, revert back to my right thigh evidently clamping on. We ride an unintentionally square corner, and I thought "hah, it's back - that was a figment of my imagination", but just for a good laugh at thinking it could have been that easy to fix, at A/C I removed my thigh again, and our second corner of the short side was wonderfully ridden with relative ease. Again, What. The. Fuck.
Do you mean to tell me I have been struggling with this for 5+ years with multiple highly decorated trainers and it is that simple? I dropped my reins, buried my face in my hands and was in utter shock at the situation as Sierra continued to plod around the ring, slightly confused but surely relieved that mama stopped giving her mixed signals. Suddenly, the entire universe made sense. My right leg IS much stronger than my left despite my hip injury, so it's no surprise that it is capable of being engaged/"locked on" without necessarily feeling it (either while riding, or later), and this oversight resulted in pushing my sensitive mare to the right -- cue over-working left aids to try and correct the drift that I was asking for without even knowing it. Someone get this mare a god damn medal, and Kidd would like a lifetime supply of Stud Muffins.
As I got my emotions back in check and picked up the contact, I played with this throughout the ride. It was really hard to maintain in the Trot, and almost impossible to maintain in the Canter but i'm chalking that up to riding like a complete idiot for the past several years. I can't help but laugh as I picture myself in the scene of Zoolander where Derek finally stops being an Ambi-Turner and turns left.
|Exchange Left with Right, and this is us 100%|
I feel like I just unlocked a treasure chest that has me left feeling dazed, confused, and once again questioning everything within the universe. Suddenly it seems possible that the earth really is flat! All joking aside, part of me is expecting to get on and have things back to normal as though it was just a really cruel yet motivating, dream while the other half of me is absolutely ecstatic at this simple, yet complicated concept. I have a lot of work ahead of me as I correct my body until this concept becomes easy and natural. Even if this isn't the only missing puzzle piece, it is clearly a really important one in solving one of the issues that has been plaguing me and my horses for years. This was one of those rides that you spend hours, days or weeks absorbing everything you just learned and feel as though it rocks you to your core...It's truly a resounding feeling.
|An actual photo of me|
A cold front is coming in and Christmas is around the holidays so I don't imagine i'll be riding as much over the next week, but I do want to emphasize that not all visits are riding visits, so I look forward to just spending some time with her and enjoying my last few days as the only rider at the barn, as the farm owner is due home Dec 28th, though I don't anticipate seeing her often so I can't imagine much will change.