Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wrapping my brain around bending

My instructor has been training Armani once a week this winter. Recently she demonstrated for me how far he has progressed with her. She asked him to counter-canter and half-pass at the trot. He was consistent and light on the contact, and engaged behind. It can be enlightening to watch your horse with someone else. He really looked like an upper-level warmblood; not the scruffy, pony-esque youngster I still pictured him as.

"He doesn't look that good for me, does he?" I asked. Although I already knew the answer.

She explained that we need to work on getting him as good for me as he is for her. So we've been looking at my weaknesses in the saddle. She's pin-pointed "bending" as the area I need to make the most improvement in, before moving on to more advanced work.

I tend to ride by "feel". So I've been trying to remember how things feel when we're doing them right. I can control the speed and maintain impulsion by slightly shifting my weight. I bend through my own body and my inside thigh asks for him to bend. Armani takes a very light contact and I can rotate and shift slightly to change directions. I don't need a lot of leg or rein. It feels subtle and effortless.

My instructor frequently reminds me to use my abdominal muscles. About the only work my abs have been doing lately is coughing. Maybe I should take advantage of that gym membership more often...

No comments: