Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hokey pokey

My leg is slowly improving, and I now have more mobility than I had a few days ago. This means I can get around better and faster (which makes Panama happy, as he was quite impatient with my slow hobble).

I had a lesson yesterday and although I didn't ride long or do much (posting still fatigues me, and leg yielding with the left leg while posting is challenging), I had a major light bulb moment.

My trainer has been having me work on spiralling Panama in and out. Part of this is to get him better at leg yields, since he tends to interpret every touch to his side as a cue to speed up. Part of this is also to get me better at leg yields, of course, and it turns out I needed it more than I thought.

My light bulb moment came when I realized I was using WAY too much inside leg when we were spiralling in. My trainer kept telling me not to let him drop his shoulder in, so I was essentially trying to hold him up with my inside leg. Silly me! Turns out he was dropping his shoulder in because of how much inside leg I was using, as he straightened right up as soon as I stopped. Duh.

A while back, Nuzzling Muzzles posted about a Clinton Anderson clinic she attended. She mentioned something about how any time you are working with your horse, you really have two horses, one for each side, since once you have them switch directions it's all new again.

I think the same might apply to me. I can't believe how hard of a time I have remembering which is my right leg and which is my left when I'm riding and my trainer is calling out instructions. If you watched my lessons, you'd probably hear this sort of thing at least once in each lesson:

"A little more left leg. Left leg! No, your OTHER left!"

When you think about it, Panama really is a trooper to put up with a novice rider when he's still learning himself. In fact, I think it probably says a lot about his intelligence and temperament that he hasn't gone batshit crazy by now.

I do have an easier time if my trainer says "inside leg" or "outside leg," but sometimes of course that isn't possible, such as when she's having me work on my cues in a serpentine.

Does anyone else have this problem?



At January 21, 2010 at 5:45 PM, Blogger TxFarmhouse said...

Your other left? You put a lot into a lesson and posting is something I never learned to do. I'm just the old fashioned rider who learned as a kid to ride by staying on the best way I knew how. Now this ol' dog just rides to walk and take in the sights and enjoy the outdoors. I applaud you for learning all that you are...and even with a bum knee!

At January 21, 2010 at 8:27 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

One riding instructor I had years ago could tell if my body was stronger on my left or on my right just by watching me ride for a couple of minutes. Having a knee or leg injury is one way to naturally become more aware of the leg pressure you use when riding.

At January 24, 2010 at 3:09 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Berte -- my other left meaning I was persistently using my right and she was being funny. It worked, though, as it made me realize what I was doing. :o)

I think the way you learned works better when you're a kid. By the time you're an adult, you're too inhibited and too aware of your body's limitations to learn that way. I learned to ride a little when I was 12 or 13, but not well enough to ride a greenbroke horse, as I discovered early in Panama's training. :o) The lessons have done a lot to improve my balance and riding skills, as well as my ability to maintain authority with my horse. I don't know what I would have done without my trainer.

NM, I think that's a sign of a really talented instructor. I know how hard it is to watch everything moving in a horse's body at once, and still pick up problems. I can't even imagine how good you need to be to keep tabs on the rider's movements, as well!


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