Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wait for it....

I've been kicking myself for never seeming to have pictures on my blog lately. How boring, right? I'm not sure exactly why it hasn't happened, other then the fact I haven't been taking pictures. That's not to say that I no longer find Mr. Moon photogenic or no longer want to keep photographic proof of his awesomeness. Rather, I think I've been so engrossed in actually riding, that taking pictures slips my mind.

The second is the fact that knowing the camera on me causes me to go all to hell. And I felt like we've been riding so much better that I didn't want to jinx it.

So yesterday I headed out with camera in hand (no H, I wasn't going to let you film!), and after feeding some very awesome and well behaved ponies (with little M's help of course), I tacked Moon up and got ready to do some Dressage.

After riding around for awhile, doing this that and the other thing, I felt like I suddenly found my groove. My attention was 100% on Moon and I was working my hands and body in a way where I felt like I could actually change him and his movement actively. Not a "I sure hope this works" sorta way, but a "This, that, this, now that" natural sorta movement to work with him. As someone who sooo often needs to actively think about every move (which is why having someone shout what to do at me works so well), it was incredible to just feel "natural" together. Riding, not thinking.

So after my audience headed home, I pulled on some half-chaps (cantering without REALLY hurts when those leathers pinch your legs) and put the video camera on record...

As soon as I got back on Moon, he was a dork. I *had* thought we had found some long and low, but no. He was short and high all over again. So we worked. And worked. The earlier connection was gone, but it had given me a patience to keep working at it. It was in there somewhere, and we could find it again.

It took awhile, but eventually I had some semblance of awesome back. Not as good as before, but I'd given him one canter run already and it always goes to his head. I hope someday we're cantering so much that he no longer even cares to get excited about it. Then again, maybe not...

After he softened up, we did some more canter departs.

When W was out on Wednesday, she told me I had a problem with sitting the canter that was opposite of most folks. You see, most people tend to tip forward at the canter. I, tip back.

And after watching it on video, I'm going to argue that "tip" is NOT the right descriptor. I'm practically lying backwards over Moon's back while he canters along. Stupidly.

Now I'd like to pretend this wasn't true, and perhaps delete the videos and embarrassing pictures, but I think we're all human and all develop bad habits. Which we must accept, recognize and improve. This is one (of many) of mine.

The thing that is strange to me, is that I often canter and gallop Moon on the trails and since I never sit the canter, I always have a nice forward position. Yet when you get me in the ring and ask me to canter a circle, I adopt this ridiculous backwards riding style that does me zero favors.

I think about why I ride like this. I remember many, many coaches telling me (yelling at me) to lean back in my canter. I think I'm an unfortunate product of taking their advice to the extreme. I'd been told so often that being forward on your horse when they're departing the canter causes them to be unable to lift their forehand and rock back, therefore if you canter with your weight a bit back, you'll allow them to lift and depart.

Now honestly, I'm sure they didn't mean this far back. But like many things, I took it to the extreme and now have a new behavior to correct. Yippee.

The nice thing in the video however, is that I actually see my initial terrible canter circle (Moon's on the correct lead at least) and then the last canter circle where I thought about W's suggestions for staying forward, and can see an improvement in my position. So it CAN be fixed!

There was, no surprise, one very strange moment in our entire ride. Moon and I were doing a nice canter circle, we did a full loop and as we came around I gave him a nice "whoa". Suddenly his haunches sunk down behind me, and for a second I hadn't a clue what had just happened. But as his his haunches seemed to just stay down and we came to a sliding stop, I felt like I knew.

It hadn't felt out of control, it hadn't felt accidental. It had felt intentional. And when I walked away and looked at the sand behind us, I was left wondering yet again, what my horse's history really was...

Regardless of what he does or doesn't know, what I love in all the videos, is how it starts out just awful. Sitting here watching them I was cringing like crazy. Oye. I *thought* it looked good but in reality it was AWFUL!

Then the video plays on. At 13 minutes, suddenly there it is. I can *see* how W talks about how he finally takes equal sized steps with his front and rear legs!! I can see that I'm encouraging him to lower his head and work over his back. I can see those beautiful muscles moving.

And even in the final walk sequence, there he is, with SUCH extension of his hind legs under him, and reaching and stretching down.


Are we fantastic? No. But are we improving? Yes. And in 17 minutes of video, we go from downright awful to pretty damn awesome for us. I guess the take home message in all of this is that you just have to wait for it. Nothing starts out perfect.


  1. Definitely some pretty moments!!

  2. I could not even begin to list all my bad habits. You guys have come so far!

  3. And a year from now, you will look back at these pics and video and see even more improvement! That is one of the many things I like about keeping a blog.

  4. Sounds like you had a productive ride, and I agree its better to share the imperfect pictures, than to hide them.