Saturday, February 18, 2012

Erratic Winter Riding

But Riding, Nonetheless

So, one day it's cold, the next it's sunny and warm. Winter is fickle here, but really mild compared to most years.

When it's sunny and warm, that's when I ride. It's a little easier on my knees at the moment, but in general they feel pretty good. They are still a bit sore--mostly behind the knee on the left--and can get a little stiff, depending on just how much swelling there is. If I sit too long in one position, they can hurt when I first move, but that is no worse than it was before the replacements, and actually better.

With the extra high mounting platform, getting into the saddle is pretty easy, although I have a little trouble picking up my right stirrup without using my hand. I don't think the new knee has quite the same lateral flexibility as my real knee did--but that may also change with time as the last of the residual swelling goes away.

Once in the saddle, I am comfortable, but not quite as sure of myself as I used to be. It's more mental than physical, and during the course of the ride, it usually goes away--except when Tucker decides to be a bit
"edgy."  He was jigging at the walk today and got a little "I might buck" action a couple times. I corrected him, of course, but as we all know, he will continue to test the limits anyhow. It doesn't seem particularly crabby, but rather that he's a little too full of himself.

A consequence of erratic.

My biggest annoyance right now it that on both Tucker and Chance, I seem to be sitting off to the right. This is a problem I thought I had conquered, but, like every bad habit, it has once again reared its ugly head. Now, it could be that both horses carry me that way, but even if that were true (Hey, I have trained them so if they are crooked, whose fault is it anyhow???) it's my job to sit evenly.

What I have to do, then is figure out just what part of my anatomy is causing the starboard list. If I recall before, I was riding with my right leg a little too far back, causing my hip to rotate to the right. I am having a few back issues and my pelvis does have to be adjusted, but whether the rotation is due to riding crookedly or riding crookedly is a consequence of the rotation, it's still up to me to fix it. I'll get there. I did before.

Which brings me to bits.  I tried Chance in the Myler comfort snaffle, and I don't think it's the bit for him. But I need to ride him in the regular snaffle again to further assess. When I am on the left rein, his trot gets "hoppy" and he keeps trying to break to canter. When I really focused on making him stretch into the contact, the hops largely went away. That makes me suspect it's more of a bridle/bit lameness--reaction to the bit contact--more than physical. (But I can't rule out physical 100% because he has had some issues with the right hind before.)  I did not see any sign of it when I long lined him in his full cheek single jointed snaffle, but that's the bit he put his tongue over. I do have a straight bar bit to use on him and if I ride him in the snaffle and find that tongue issue happening again, I may go back to that.

I tried Tucker in the Myler as well as someone had suggested it was a really good bit to get horses on the bit. OK, that may be so, but first, the horse has to seek the contact. Tucker does not in the Myler. I swapped back to his lozenge bit and soon he was happily dragging me around the arena rather as if I was water skiing.

Which is both good and bad.

It's good in that his trot is very forward, but it's also potentially on the brink of "runaway," mostly because he's not exactly really balanced. What I should do is just kind of "go for it," when I get that trot, but he can be a little intimidating to me when he gets too strong. Fact is, I just don't trust him.

Too much baggage between us.

But, forward on Tucker is actually a plus and I need to gain the confidence to capitalize on it. And here's where the "erratic" comes back into play. Since I am only riding sporadically--erratically--I haven't quite gotten in sync with what I should be doing, and I'm certainly neither fit enough nor strong seated enough to ride as effectively as I need to.

So, I must be patient with both myself and the Boys. Once I figure out the right bit for Chance, we'll be fine. We went out on the trail yesterday--the same trail where I fell off--and had a nice ride with a bit of arena work afterwards. Tucker? Always a riddle. I am sure we will reach some sort of compromise with me in higher authority.

It's just going to take a little more time, a little more work, a little more fitness, and a little less erratic.


  1. I sympathize with the erratic riding and the little problems that crop up because of it. Once we're able to ride consistently I think all the inconsistencies will disappear. The bit questions are always tricky, I've gone back to using the straight bar on both Dusty and Blue. It just seems to work better for both of them.

    Unfortunately, I also sympathize with the knee and picking up the stirrup. I still have the problem of toeing in to pick up the stirrup. You might be interested in the stirrups I got to avoid the problem. Here's a link to the review I did on them:
    They really help.

    I don't know if your knee therapist told you about this but when my knee would be swollen the best thing for it was to get some lotion and massage it. Guess it gets things working or loosened up and it did seem to take the swelling down. Hope this helps. Glad you got to ride today.

  2. Anonymous7:38 PM

    Glad you're getting in a few rides, but you're right, without consistent time in the saddle it's hard to build on things. Hope the knees continue to improve.

  3. Yes, it all will take time but you have time now and new knees and what a totally fun thing to work on. I am thinking that you ride when weather and body permits, and by spring when the cold and snow is done and before the heat really sets in, then you can ramp it up a bit.

    I think we traded winter weather. We had mild weather last winter - this winter it's cold and snowy.

  4. i would have thought the knee problem prior to replacement will have had a knock on effect everywhere else, so seeing a human "back man" should help a lot to put that back together again..

    as for bitting = an art and a nightmare, LOL

  5. A couple of thoughts, just relying what Jane Savoie says.

    1/ reagrding seat always start from your center, so your hips/seatbones/pelvis, when this is straight the rest will follow.
    I raise and twist inside my left hi; and therefore I weight too much my right hip/seatbone. So I have to consciously check that left hip and seat bone.

    If your weight is even in your seat bones and the hips have the same angle, everything should be okay :-)

    2/ Chance being the more "thinking" horse you have, is he not trying to evade contact? Because he will have to use his back. He is a smart buddy. If he does not do it on the lunge-line. It means that he has not much problem with the bit.
    But if he is cheeky under-saddle, he may try to evade the bit for not working ...
    He is a thinker! Not one of your reactive TB ^-^

    I have not ridden in 3 weeks :-( I doubt I will be in the saddle anytime soon ...booo.... so depressing. What a horrible february month we have between the snow and Paul's injury!