Thursday, May 15, 2008

OK, So I Don't Know How to Ride

Clinic Report

Riding with Patrice is a certain ego leveler. Think you know what you're doing? Take a lesson and learn you actually don't.

Because Chance is a "tabula rasa," (blank slate) the goal today was to ride him absolutely correctly so he doesn't learn any bad habits. Think that's easy???

Well, did you know your leg is pretty darn irrelevant in keeping the horse straight? Did you know it's all a matter of your seat and balance? No fidgeting, now, no correcting, just ride right and he will relax and walk straight. Easier said than done.

And then, keeping your elbow down by gravity, under your control, and maintaining an absolutely even, steady contact on the right rein while on a left circle ought to be a cinch too, right? No pulling the left rein to stay on the circle...nope...just the right rein contact and sort of an "expectation" to turn left. Hard to explain, but it does work, after a fashion. The trick is trying to keep the contact correct with a green horse quick to escape or bounce off the bit if my balance or his goes even slightly astray.

If I sound somewhat frustrated, I am, but not necessarily in a bad way. Patrice's meticulous approach to getting a horse straight simply by being totally straight and correct in your own riding, including your seat, leg and the hand is exhausting mental and physical work, but it produces a "correct" horse.

Since I have already trained two crooked horses she's seen, she was particularly hard on me when I rode Chance. He was, by the way, a good boy. A little tense to start off which is where the kind of "dead or super soft leg" approach started off. The idea was for me to be very nonchalant and relaxed whenever he tried to trot off. It really did work, but it was a lot harder than you might expect.

The steering work focused on Chance's tendancy to bulge himself out to the right, so that was really useful. But again, not correcting him with the rein, seat or leg with also a lot harder than it sounds.

Stacie was at least as frustrated. I didn't watch her whole lesson, but again, working to get Toby straight is not necessarily easy either. And, she had some position problems beyond that due to all the time off from riding and practice she's had since Lucky became unsound.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for her. She has ambitions to become a really good competitive rider--something I really don't care so much about as the journey of training a horse is what I'm about--and not having a horse of her own to ride is no way to get there. What she would like would be a solid, straightforward schoolmaster she could ride and just concentrate on her own position and being absolutely correct. At least, I think that's what she wants.

Wish I had a million dollars so I could find her that horse. I don't need one myself, but I would love to be able to see her with one.

Think I need to buy another lottery ticket.


  1. Sounds like it was a very beneficial lesson if a bit trying!:)I know how you mean about the circle's and not using the inside rein .Rachel had me doing this completely giving away the inside rein..its hard to get your head around but ive done a little of the circles etc just using my body with AliG and Polo and it does work.Most of my weekend was spent sorting out me and my position.

    I buy a lottery ticket every week....wish it would come in:))

  2. emma had me doing that with molly and it was working, but now it isn't .... :-(

  3. I'd have liked to have been there with you Jean.