Thursday, July 12, 2007


And A Good Ride

I rode with Patrice Edwards today. It was much cooler, not so humid, and the drive over was only about 25 minutes or so.

Tucker was a really good boy. Most of Patrice's work focuses on getting the rider to sit correctly and use the correct aids to make the horse correct and straight.

One of the most interesting and challenging exercises she gave me was to have me cross my reins over Tuck's neck, taking the right rein in the left hand and the left rein in the right hand and then ride around concentrating on steering and controlling with my seat and leg rather than my hands. While I have done that before--but not recently--I never did it with the reins crossed. The point is to make the rider very much aware of not only using the weight and leg aids to control the horse, but to make the rider very aware of how unconciously and instinctively I go to the rein to get the horse to go where I want him to instead of using the other aids.

Talk about frustration. It is like trying to ride in a mirror. I did find myself using my right hand constantly, so Tucker kept going left with his head and neck. So, I need to do some of that exercise a little every day to cure myself of going to my hand first.

Once I got the reins back in my correct hands, we began looking at some other elements and, at the canter, I suddenly discovered, with Patrice's help, that I tend, even though I sit straight and don't collapse, to weight my right seat bone more than my left. Tucker is a little crooked and works his right hind better, so he wants me to sit on that seat bone, and I have happily complied. Fortunately, it was not a particularly difficult fix for me, as long as I thought about it. However, that was the key. I had to think about it.

Tucker was not always pleased when I sat on the left, but he is really a good boy about a lot of things and will definitely try to do the right thing as long as I ask correctly. So, once again, I need to be vigilant about my seat and position at all times to help him become straight and correct all the way round.

We did some leg yields which really came well. Again, I just had to focus to use the right combination of supporting rein and leg to make them both equally even and correct, but on Tucker that is another relatively easy fix as he finds lateral work pretty easy.

On to trot lengthenings, and Patrice had me count strides across the diagonal, so I was much more aware of making even and regular efforts. Patrice suggests only asking for the really good lenthened strides at the 5 or 6 strides over X in a test at 1st Level instead of trying to demand the whole diagonal. It was an interesting approach and helped things along. We then worked trot lenthenings on the circle and got some more good efforts.

We also did canter lengthenings, developing them out of the canter plie'. The plie' is basically making a leg yield move at the canter, encouraging the horse to really reach under with his inside hind leg and then, out of that, asking for the lengthening.

The joy of riding Tucker is that he is very quick to respond to a correctly placed aid. He will protest if I am too strong or inappropriate. For example, on the trot lengthenings, if I used my outside leg a little stronger than my inside leg, he would canter. Too much of one leg over another might get a lateral movement. Too strong or starling an aid might inspire a kick out.

But, ride him right, and he does all he can to do it right.

All in all, a good workout in the saddle. I was certainly pleased.


  1. Sounds like a very fruitful day for rider and horse

  2. Woaw What a cool clinic. You make me want to ride and feel Tucker ;-)
    He sounds like a very good teacher!

  3. I wish I could have shared your lesson. I used to ride Tetley sometimes with no reins at all. If I was spot on with my seat I could walk trot canter stop circle shoulder in and travers without picking up the reins. It's a great exercise on a trained horse - very challenging!

    I so agree with Patrice. However well a horse may be going - how well could it go if you corrected the rider too? There are way too many instructors in Britain who work only on what the horse is doing, not the rider. I watched a friend of mine have a lesson a year or so back. Her trainer said "I don't care what you do, xxxx, as long as the horse is going right". And she turned to me and said that she couldn't see the point of correcting the rider if the horse was going well, and could I? Well, I bit my tongue!

  4. Now I am inspired too Jean, especially after reading Caroline's comments. I usually have the feeling that my seat bones are not where they should be and as of late I have been working on that. Relying less on the reins should more clearly expose my faults.