Sunday, August 24, 2008

That annoying, frustrating thing that you can't fix!

I wish I could learn to have an eye for distance. I don't have it. I've NEVER had it, and because of that, I've never tried to jump anything bigger than 2'6. I had my trainer at the time try to train it into me, with all of the usual drills involving counting, or practicing seeing distances while on foot or driving the car or just didn't help much. My depth perception isn't great or something. I can see a polo ball and whack it just fine but that's because it's right next to my horse. Trying to look ahead of me, I don't see my jumping distance until it is too late to adjust nicely.

(That's a great big reason someone else will be showing the VLC)

There are riding flaws that can be fixed with work, and riding flaws that seem to be insurmountable. I used to pump at the canter as a child; that turned out to be a matter of no trainer who had been able to explain how not to do that. I finally figured it out myself and stopped doing it, but there's no such easy fix for the distance thing.

Do you have a frustrating riding flaw that you just can't seem to fix that is preventing your ability to progress in your chosen discipline? I hear a lot of dressage riders who are having issues with sitting trot given their bad backs, for example. What's yours, if any?

I will have a full report on the SAFE show but I'm waiting for pictures. It seems to be my show to end up riding barely-broke grey Arabians. Go figure. I still can't figure out my own fear's like, certain horses I'm just immediately confident and fine on, and others I just know I'm not going to be able to do it anymore. It doesn't even have anything to do with how they're acting. It's just weird. But more on that later...


gillian said...

I pumped at the canter. The only thing trainers tried to do to fix it was to shout "stop pumping your arms" or "stop pumping with your shoulders." The thing I've been doing thats starting to help is just focus on breathing and I feel like I'm leaning back but I've been assured that what I'm doing now is keeping my shoulders over, but not behind, my hips.

an American in Copenhagen said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has had to abandon their dream of winning the individual gold showjumping at the olympics (bareback on the black stallion) due to "jumping distance myopia". No amount of practicing/exercises/repetition/schoolmaster/different trainer could keep me from winding up too close or too far from the jump. Poor school horses. Sorry to say it's all hunters and no jumpers for me.

A Bay Horse said...

My blood sugar gets low, some times while I ride. I try to plan my meals to compensate. I also have round shoulders and no matter how many times I'm told to put them back, I just can't get them back all the way. But I try to ride effectively besides.

I think I know what you're saying about some horses just feel different. I think it's something intangible with how we mesh with them. I try to ride any horse that's offered in order to learn what I can. But I definitely feel more at home with certain ones, no matter how they are behaving.

LittleDunMare said...

I don't think the fear issue is weird at all.. I've recently, after a few bad experiences realised that there are some that you get on and feel *safe*. And some you don't. And like you say, there's no logical explanation, it isn't say, 'all thoroughbred', 'all trail horses', anything like that, just some of them you do, some you don't.

I think that you get to a point riding where you know what horses you gel with, and 'feel' the ones where something'll go wrong. That's what I like to think, anyway.

Gnomie said...

I have never been able to mount gently and it drives me crazy. I try to sit down gently, but I still feel like I'm throwing myself into the saddle.

Sagebrusheq said...

Getting transfixed, hypnotized by my horse's poll. It's senseless because when you look down everything falls apart so there's plenty of incentive not to do so. One of my instructors once told me that if she caught me looking down again she would make me tape a note to the top of the headstall that read "the answer isn't here." The threat worked for the duration of that lesson but I'm always having to guard against it. Sometimes I tell myself if I don't get anything else accomplished that day the one thing that I won't do is look down at my horse.

I comfort myself that I'm in good company though, everyone knows it's bad and almost everyone does it anyway. Watch even the olympic riders, and you'll see them stealing a glance, especially at the extended walk. I can't think of a rider since Fillis at the dawn of photography of whom there aren't photos of him staring at his horse's poll. Funny.

Sagebrusheq said...

By the way Fugly, no eye? Don't let that stop you from jumping. What's important is that your horse has an eye for a distance. It's enough that you know from walking the course to hold steady, lengthen or shorten. Trying to place him is a fools game and even with the pros less than 1 in a 100 can do it well enough to be of any help. Most who try just mess things up. The horse has to do the jumping. Your job is to stay out of his way.


PS Haven't gotten any feedback so I'm guessing that the inner ear thing didn't work for you. So sorry, wish it had. I do so like it when women feel they owe me one.

Susan said...

I can't feel a lead to save my life. I can kind of feel it on circles but on a straightaway, I'm clueless! I've spent years trying to learn to feel leads yet I still have to peek.

Any and all suggestions welcome!!!

x_slowpassintime said...

I used to be good at feeling leads, but for some reason now I have troubles. I'm getting better, though.
One bad habit I get when riding my pleasure horse two handed is letting my hands fall down by his shoulders. I also have trouble keeping my elbows in riding two handed.

The death of me is a gate in trail. I cannot do a gate. period. I just suck at it, lol, and I can't practice on Garth because, ahem, the last time we used the gate he got scared, flipped it over the arena fence, fell with me (thankfully not on me) and broke it. He's getting over his trail issues with me, and eventually I hope to get him over the gate (this is our big goal), but first I'll have to master it on another horse.

Kayla said...

No matter how much no sturrip work I do, my legs, especially my left, looks like crap on the lesson horses I work with and I can no longer sit a canter or a trot from back problems (I'm 17! It's ridiculous). Put me up on a horse that has been well-trained, like my friend's horse Jackson, my leg is perfect, or when he owned Rocky (who he sold to a little girl and they're perfect each other), my leg is pretty good, my friend's dressage-horse-in-training, my leg was good (who I used to ride before she took him to school and started riding with a real trainer, my leg was poop). So basically, my leg is really crappy and I hate it.

x_slowpassintime said...

Oh, Susan, this is what I'm doing for my lead problem: What I do is check my lead and then try and memorize how it feels/how my body naturally sits. It's definitely helping. Just tune in to how the motion feels on each lead. Don't worry about anything else short of making sure your horse doesn't hit anything, lol.

Heather said...

Susan, my childhood trainer used to put a strip of duct tape on my horses shoulders. This made the tape flash under the arena lights and I was able to 'see' the leads without looking down. This helps you learn to feel them without developing the bad habit of staring down at your horses shoulders. Also, when you are looking for the lead, make sure if you do look down, you are comparing the two sides- not just staring at one side.

Sagebrusheq said...

You've probably already tried this but: relax; close your eyes, or just look up; and feel your own hips. One should be slightly in advance of the other, that's your lead. These things just come and when they do they seem easy. I don't believe that how quickly they come is an indicator of aptitude either. Some people pick it right up and others it takes longer. Drunk and blindfolded, I always instantly knew which diagonal I was posting to but I had a devil of a time with leads and it really bugged me, for years I'd double check myself.

Perhaps NOT checking is the key to picking it up faster. Force yourself to seek elsewhere than a visual clue. Feel your own body, make up your mind, and THEN check the results. Like typing by touch if you always look at the keyboard you'll never get it. (I do and haven't)

Just a thought, S.

Karen V said...

PROBLEMS - Ok, I'll give you the list! (ALL of them are from self-teaching and no lessons/trainer)

TOES - I tense in the knee and my toes run forward.

Seat - I ride forward on my "girlie parts", arch my back, stick out my chest, and basically look like a moron.

Hint on the lead thing - if you relax your legs, one foot will "ride forward". That's the lead you're on. Another one of my problems. When I lope on the left lead, that left foot is forward and flopping.

Thank GOD you don't have to ride pretty to run barrels!

moosefied said...

A Bay Horse and Karen V: I have similar problems to yours. I have round shoulders (lordosis) and my pelvis swings forward in compensation, so I look like I'm S shaped. I can't get the shoulders back entirely either. I sit funny as a result.

The only thing I can think of to help it is to do crunches to strengthen my abs. I'm not going to totally fix the back. But if anyone else has any ideas, I'll listen.

But I have one fault that I know I can fix (somehow): when the horse spooks badly, I grab the reins for balance. I chucked a horse in the mouth last time and felt bad. I don't do it if I'm just losing my balance while riding forward, only if they swerve and spook. Any ideas on that, I'll also listen.

MyLittlePony said...

I can't canter. I'm 42 and learned to ride about two years ago. The first time I cantered I was on my daughters thoroughbred. I lost my balance, fell forward onto his neck. I lost the reins too. We cantered a full circle around the arena, me holding on for dear life and screaming for help, until I finally got ahold of his cheek piece to slow him to a trot. He was a saint - just cantered along calmly with me hangning on his neck, but it scared the hell out of me and now I have a fear of it. I'm trying hard to get over it. My daughter gave me a "cantering lesson" today. On the first try I cantered just a couple of steps, lost my balance and almost fell off sideways. The second try I was able to stay more balanced and made it about a half a circle, but I guess I was pulling on my mare's mouth. Poor girl. She's a saint too. Why oh why does it take me so darn long to find my balance??

nccatnip said...

My issues? All of them. Still no lessons yet as I had to cancel todays due to horrific migraine so I still pretty much suck.
The funny thing about "feeling safe" on certain horses is coming home to me. I have always been a timid rider, never one to just hop on any old horse. One ride on Reddi gave me alot of confidence with her- I get a little anxious on some of the hills on our trails but she takes me right thru. I just give her the reins and hang on. And now with Blue- yes he is a belgian but came with no history and within three short rides we were riding down the roads with no fears. He is as steady as a rock. Even my daughter is proud of my new found confidence level.
I am just hoping and praying to get some lessons to get a starting point and something to work on.

BuckdOff said...

My hands are too high when I trot. I'm not flapping but they aren't where they should be.

SammieRockes said...

I pump when I am bored, it makes it more exciting. haha.

My issue is bareback. I can ride bareback, in fact I am a great bareback rider, but sometimes, I just get stiff.

Like today, after a long 4 and half hour ride(about 10 miles) I threw my gelding in the field, and then lator, the mares decided they didn't want to come up for dinner(we had one mare up and 20 buckets filled) so the owner sent me and her daughter out to bring some in, we grabbed our hard hats and lead ropes and were gonna catch two so we didn't have to wlak back in, well, my gelding of course was out with the mares, but he is allowed, however he took another gelding with him, so I had to bring him in,

He is a "White" appy with just spots on his skin!!!!. so adorable. but about maybe a total of 10 days of work on him as for riding, so I caught him, tied the lead rope, my friend gave me a leg up and he has glue legs like that broodmare you talked about, it took a lot to get him to go. and then he started jogging since some of the mares had taken off, not stopping for anything(because a lead rope is a lot of control...not) so I let him jog up and the barn owner was all "GOOD! he needs to come in"

when he jogged I def. got stiff at first, then I just reminded myself to relax and I was fine.

He is so smooth, so calm, like the VLC only a lot shorter. about 14 hh. He is going to make one nice hunter pony, my barn is still deciding weather they want to keep him for lessons or sell him.

RoanRider420 said...

"More leg, less spur". I show AQHA western pleasure and I have a mare who absolutely will not tolerate too much spur, she will just STOP. So my trainer is constantly telling me to take my spur off her and put my leg on her. After months of frustration, I think I MIGHT be starting to get it.

dp said...

I'm with Sagebrush -- can't stop looking down at my horse, and I have the really bad habit of tilting my head slightly to the inside when I'm checking out the bend. Good thing I'm not trying to impress anyone too important these days!

Toycia said...

For getting the correct distance

- I had that problem on the cross country course ( those jumps are MADE to trick you!) until my trainer told me to look at the top rail (or edge or whatever) of the jump i'm riding to as I ride up to it. When your eye naturally moves past it you can stop (read - no looking at the top rail AS you go over the jump, obviously!)

Since I've started this I just seem to naturally get my distances - have you tried that?

Toycia said...

Oh and mine is also a habit of getting mesmerized by the poll/shoulder/ ground on the inside when schooling dressage. Not just a little either, I mean head bent right over, eyes glued there.

I'm not even sure what I look at! I just get so involved in trying to connect through the reins and seat that I completely forget about the world around me - fortunately I school in the arena by myself!

Also, this isn't really a riding problem, but it looks funny - I stick my tongue in the side of my cheek when I am really concentrating - every jumping pic of have that shows that side of my face looks like I have a tumour in my cheek, and my coach repeatedly says I'm going to bite it off one day. 22 years of being told that and I STILL can't stop!

Nagonmom said...

I have zilch distance judging ability. I am OK with not jumping, but fear I will never be able to drive a horse trailer for the same reason. Anyone find the horse distance problem translates to behind the wheel of a trailer and pick-up? Current riding issue is remembering to keep heels down at the canter. Problem is, if I forget, or slip heels up alittle, and try to correct, my lesson horse stops. Last lesson had a different instructor who kindly pointed out that this reining horse has been trained to stop with any forward stirrup motion. Spent rest of lesson proving this to myself. At least I'm riding!!

morbidreality said...

Hmm. I have that issue now, I used to show jump and compete constantly until I sold my jumping horse and got a green (well, pinto..) one (who, sadly can barely jump to save his life!)

The best advice I have been given is to look up (preferably at something on the other side of the fence, tree, fencing etc) sit up and keep your leg on for the ENTIRE time (this means approach, ESPECIALLY just before take off and landing) so that the horse stays in front of your leg (I don't mean bolting into the fence) I have found this to work reasonably well in most cases (I'll usually screw up the fence if my leg comes off).

Unless your horse is absolute push button, you're not going to be able to see a perfect spot every time (and pray god, who has one of them?).

Michelle said...

OMG, where should I begin?

As a kid, I jumped on any horse I could get my butt on, and rode off into the sunset, preferably as fast as possible.

As an adult, new to taking lessons, my faults are numerous.

I've got the shoulder thing, too, from too many years at a computer and a neck with arthritis and that juts forward, no more C shape.

So I hunch forward, shoulders rounded. I need to learn to stick my boobs out.

My legs are weak. Weak, weak, weak. I can lift and carry hay bales and grain bags and carry them up steep hills, but I've got nothing against a dead-sided horse. I've got fibromyalgia too, so sometimes my leg will just decide to start cramping up while I'm up there.

I stick my elbows out like a freakin' chicken.

I can't feel the rhythm, and have not learned to post yet (not for lack of trying). I continually sit for 2 beats, and can't manage to get my ass back up fast enough.

I haven't cantered since I was a kid, so I don't even have a clue how bad that is.

I get tired and lazy, and then my mind wanders. Then the horse takes over, and we have a stubborn schoolie, or my mare gets spooky because she lost her leader to outer space somewhere.

I keep plugging along, though. Hopefully I'll get it before I die.

kaptkaos113 said...

I have been trying to learn dressage with my mare. I have been a hunter for well forever. Heels down, arched back, forward seat. I went to a clinic, borrowed my friends dressage saddle and suddenly knew absolutly nothing about riding! Heels UP! Back on your seat, dont arch your back. Oh it was a painful day, I found muscles I didn't know exsisted. I don't know if my body and my body can do this. How do you overcome muscle memory?? My body knows how to be as a a dressage rider, geez I suck!

kaptkaos113 said...

oops, I meant if my mind and my body can handle this. Not my body and my body. Not enough coffee yet.

Serendipity said...

I can't count strides or judge distance either. I pretty much have to sit there and wait for the horse to take off before I move. Fugly, could it be you have astigmatism?

I fidget with my hands. A lot. Sometimes it's just shortening and releasing my reins, other times it's just tensing and relaxing my fingers. I'm not even aware I'm doing it most of the time. Most school horses don't care because my hands are light, while busy. Trainer recently put me on her retired show horse who applies vigorous Let-the-hell-go-of-my-mouth-Woman! head-shaking. It's helped me become more aware of it.

Danse Macabre said...

Mine's NHR, but I have a biggie, too. In high school, I was head of the flute section, which is based on ability. I did all the state festivals and everything. Played flute, piccolo, trumpet, clarinet, piano. Learned the clarinet during a boring weekend! lol I could play damn near anything my teacher put in front of me. He was quite impressed. Especially when he discovered I couldn't count music! LOL When you see people tapping a foot while they play or a singer tapping her hand against the mike, that's because they can all count the beats. Me? Nope. Not at ALL. I've tried, really hard, but that's my thing that I'm never going to figure out. But hey, I hear Jimi Hendrix couldn't read music. I figured I was OK because I could at least read it! ;)

Redsmom said...

I have so many things that need fixing, I can't even start. When the weather cools off I'm going to have our teacher come over again and I can't wait to have her start picking me apart. I have improved a lot in strength and balance, so I hope to be able to implement her suggestions. When we were taking lessons before, I barely had the coordination to hang on. This is my third time of learning to ride all over again. I'm not quitting this time. Its too hard to relearn!

Shadow Rider said...

I haven't shown or taken lessons in so long I have no idea how bad I look.

I think I'll keep it that way. ;-)

amarygma said...

My little Pony- I just finally "got" cantering. Start from a 2-point to get used to the rhythm, slowly lowering your butt into the saddle, but I find I'm always better balanced in a 2-point. And in the beginning, there's no shame in grabbing the saddle! I also finally figured out how to "push" with my seat.

Also I'm so used to not having to use any leg when I'm done asking for something that I didn't realize you can totally hold on with those thighs!

amarygma said...

My fault is my seat. It's independent, but I'm easily tipped by an unexpected stop or turn or something. I recover well enough, but I look a little silly. When Doopy wants to be done riding, he does the most intermittent fast-slow-fast trot to unsettle me.

sidetracked said...

Rhythm, rhythm and rhythm is all I'm going to say to you. Too many riders get hung up on the "distance" thing. The more youy dwell on it, your probably going to slow down until you see it, lose your rhythm and have an awful spot each time. What I tell people who are learning to jump and perfect a jump course is to get your horses perfect rhythm for the height of the jumps. You also want a horse who is in front of the leg and responsive to all of the aids and able to maintain rhythm. Let the right spot come to you and your horse. My bad abit was waiting for my spots, or waiting until I could see them and by then I was holding him back, he was dumping on his front end and the jumps were arful. The rule of thumb for me is to ride to the spot. If you don't see it, it's fine, but keep the nice rhythm and ride to the jump and not wait for it to appear. I used to be aweful about spots because I focused too much on it.

Another goos way to practice is using ground poles which I'm sure you've tried. The more you do it and jump the better you will get. I remember my big jump (no pun intended) from the 2'6" division to the 3ft. It was a totally different ball game. Spots and distances were totally different from 2'6" and my rhythm had to be a little more forward. I don't care what you say, but this is an issue that can easily be fixed with time, consistency, a good horse and you not focusing too much on it.

Now for my flaws. I have bad posture. My shoulders roll in and I really just want to roach my back. I;ve gone as far as to wrap polo wraps around my shoulders to keep them back. I also do a lot of no hands work with arms to the side to open my chest and ribs and work on my posture.

As for the pumping at the canter, I always tell a lot of people that your body is like an extension of the horse and the movements foes through you too. I lot of the times with chicken wings and pumpy arms it's because your taking that movement and having it exit through the wrong avenue. Now in dressage it's slightly different, but in hunters and equitation I ride I try and think of taking that movement and energy and having come out at the base of my heels. SO my body is still, I'm moving with the horse and taking the movement and letting it go through my body. Just something to think about and picture. It seems to make a lot of sense to a lot of riders.

Pipkin said...

I sit all crooked at the hand gallop. I can't sit up and have my legs even, my right leg creeps forward. I know I'm collapsing to the right, but I just can't seem to sit back and have my legs drape along the horse's back. I can keep the fine with I"m in 2 point, but not if I'm sitting up. Very frustrating.
And I hear you on the fear thing. SSome hrses are just plain scary, and I don't know why.

As far as the distance thing goes, you might have some kind of astigmatism. I did, and while it didn't effect my jumping, I could not catch a ball to save my life.

LuvMyTBs said...

Since rehabbing from my rebuilt lower right leg and the loss of mobility/flexibility I for some reason cannot get the correct left diagonal anymore at the trot.Leads I have no problem with ,can feel them automaticallty,but the trot YIKES it's embarrassing and I'll be damned if I can feel that I'm wrong or feels exactly the same to me.My students laugh at me and LOVE to point it out to me which I think is pretty funny also(at least I taught them well).

I also can not back up my trailer unless you want it jacknifed!!!I must have dyslexia of the rear view mirror.My husband could win at truck rodeos he is so good at it and he has tried numerous times to teach me,so has my brother,I seriously can not do it.My solution is I get to shows or wherever I'm going EARLY so I can pull through or turn around without backing up.LAME but true!!

lusitano epiphany said...

My flaw is that my shoulders aren't back enough. I have nerve damage in my neck (which affects the right side of my shoulder), not to mention I sit typing at adesk all day, PLUS I have a rather large chest. So when I roll my shoulders back, it hurts and it feels like my tendons aren't meant to stretch that way. I try, but it feels so strange to me. I get sore after a while.

Learning how to see distance: try jumping some crossrails using only your peripheral vision. Look off to the right, for example, while you approach and as you go over the jump, look at what you're doing via your peripheral vision. I discovered this by accident. It forces you to stop focusing so much (and therefore messing up).

serissime said...

As for seeing distances, honestly, being able to count down isn't that important. Keeping your rhthym and at least knowing when the last stride is is important... but "oh 3 2 1" isn't SPECIFICALLY important. At the higher levels, YES, but schooling 3', 3'3"... lol whatever. On crosscountry, I count strides in sets of four, but I don't do a countdown or anything. It just keeps your rhythm to count your strides. I fail when a trainer tells me to count down out loud to them, but if they don't make me count, I measure myself without stupid numbers!! If you just keep your rhythm, getting to the fence is nothinggg.
(And I speak from a jumper/eventer perspective.) I collect about 5 strides out, but I say "five," you know. Maybe it is, maybe it's not, but "this is good enough," has always gotten me over courses clear! Try simply counting your strides... I don't know..

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I just hate getting it WRONG. I hate that feeling of oh! shit! we either have to push for REALLY long or they're going to chip in and pop. I HATE the chip and pop, so I'll push for the long every time but I know sometimes that's a dumb decision.

I haven't seriously jumped in 15 years, and this was the main reason I quit. I mean, I'll do a jump here and there but I haven't tried to jump a course since the early 90s. I do hear you all about the rhythm and speed and getting that right. I could always get hunter hack right, it was when I had to turn and slow down and speed up that it all went to hell. Which makes sense!

Ah well, maybe I'll do hunter hack myself with the VLC...after he is all trained by someone more talented than myself!

Laura Crum said...

I'd like to have the physical skill with horses that I had in my thirties and the attitude (I was going to say wisdom and patience, but that sounded pretentious) that I have now (at 51). Oh, and I'd like to be as brave as I used to be, too. But smarter. Hmmm...I have a feeling these two things don't go together. And I, too, like most, I suppose, feel safe on some horses and not on others, irrespective of logic. It is all about the feeling they give you, or the particular click between horse and rider. The horse I felt safest on bucked numerous other people off. Go figure.

Cooper's Fan Girl said...

MyLittlePony, I used to be scared of cantering, but I worked it out by approaching it the right way.

First off, have your daughter put you on a lunge line without the reins. When you ride, just work on staying balanced and breathing. If you can, ride in a western saddle so you can hold onto the horn if you lose your confidence or balance.

Second, when you feel good about that, have your daughter add on the reins and ride, than take the lunge line off when you feel balanced. Work on riding without sturrips to get even better and try doing this every other day if you can for several days. It'll hurt and you will be sore, but you'll be better for it and accomplish the canter in no time.


Jailbird said...

I totally get what you mean about feeling safer on some horses than others.

The horse I ride now is a 16yo Thoroughbred. While he is not 'hot,' he's definitely the 'warmest' of the horses I've ridden. He does have a little spook in him and his canter is naturally rather fast. He likes to toss his head around. He recently went from a full-cheek snaffle to a pelham and that helped, but he still does it when he's feeling particularly excited. His canter is a bit fast for me and he easily knocks me off balance at it. For some reason, I have absolutely no issue getting back on him even after having fallen off him and landed none too gently. I can trust him, I think. I just feel really comfortable on him.

I used to ride a dun QH gelding at another farm. I didn't trust this horse. He was rather calmer than the thoroughbred, true, but I just didn't trust him. He had an attitude (he used to charge at me full-speed when I went out to the paddock to catch him.. wonderful, sweet gelding) but he was fine under saddle so I really had no reason not to trust him to get me around the ring. I don't know, I was just never as comfortable on him as I was on the two thoroughbreds I've ridden.

Though that could just be my huge soft spot for TBs showing.

As far as problems go, I have a SLEW that really should have been corrected already. Only since I switched barns and started taking lessons on horses that actually show, not hardcore school horses, have I learned about seat and leg. When I came to this barn in May, I was pretty much 95% upper body and the other 5% was leg when I was asking for speed. That's it. My seat is still not the greatest but it has improved, my hands are a lot quieter now and I no longer lean forward for no apparent reason whatsoever.

..The canter. Ahh, the canter. I have issues comfortably sitting the canter, at least on the horse I ride now. He's a speedy fellow and his canter isn't exactly smooth. Oh sure, I'll stay on as long as you don't ask me to do any kind of sharp turns or anything, but I just can't get this horse. I don't know. The last time I tried, I got off balance and he lost his head.. Thoroughbred.. Probably remembered something from the racetrack and I.. remembered what it felt like to lay in sand.

Also, I have confidence issues. Very specific ones. I was in a show this weekend. Just a little schooling show, you know, nothing big. There was a game division and I was in two of the events, one of them was trail. The diagram said poles. It didn't say 2' CROSSRAILS. I never jumped in my life and I haven't done a two-point for over a year and a half, are you effing kidding me!? I have to jump now?! ..Yeah. I jumped. Had no idea how, never took a lesson on it, but I gave it my best. Two-point came a little bit late and I got left rather behind, but I stayed on so I'm proud of that, at least. No. You ask me to do something crazy and dumb, like race someone around the riding ring at top speed, I will do it. Horse spooks at a tilted water trough, a quiet and umoving gate, a running cat? No big deal.

But the second the horse I'm on trips, I fucking pull his head right back up and quietly try to patch my nerves back together.

Yes. I can't stand it when a horse I'm on trips. Even a tiny little minor trip and I freak out and think the world's ending. It's a really unreasonable fear, but I blame it on the dun QH gelding mentioned above. He tripped a lot and he once tripped and fell all the way to the ground with me. Oh yeah. After that, my confidence was shot.

MyLittlePony said...

Amanygma - Thanks for the advice. You give me hope!! Yes, starting from two point sounds good. I will try that. I'm unsure about grabbing the saddle though. In fact my first time (the fiasco) my trainer had me hold on to the saddle (English saddle) with one hand and hold the reins in the other. I think holding onto that saddle is what made me lose balance and fall forward. Maybe I need to try this in a Western saddle....

laurie said...

i have a couple of things that i can't fix and they bug me....

one is back pain when i do a sitting trot, comes from being bucked off my first horse 5 years ago. it comes and goes, sometimes worse than others.

then there is my knee. i had a total replacement just over 2 years ago, and it bugs me sometimes when i post in my english saddle, or after a long ride in my western one.

my biggest curse is an irrational fear of cantering. last summer i entered several w/t/c classes in our fjord show, and though it wasn't pretty, i managed to canter. this summer, i can't bring myself to do it. i have no idea where that comes from.....indoors i am afraid he might stumble in the arena, even though the footing is good, ground rubber. outside i am afraid he might run away, which isn't too common for fjords, since they prefer not to makes me crazy.

i also have days when i don't ride outside for any number of reasons...too windy, too buggy, too hot, too cold......heaven forbid i should ever try a trail ride instead of the outdoor arena. some days i am just a big chicken.

a beautiful disaster said...

my one really bad habit currently is that I "breathe" with my fingers while I'm riding in an attempt to have as light a contact as possible. I also lose my posture a little when I'm sitting in the saddle, esp while posting...I'll blame it on my bad back :)

as for the safety, I feel completely comfortable on buddy even when he has his bronc like tempertantrums that scare most of the other riders and trainers. I think it has a lot to do with how long I've been riding him...not toention that I adore him unconditionaly.

and about the distances: its great to let your horse judge a distance if they have an eye for one ;) buddy cougars pick a good spot on his own to save a life. cathy do you wear glasses? I just got them this fall and it was amazing how much it helped me to judge distances. I just have a very slight astigmatism in one eye but apparently one of the first things it can start to mess with is your depth perception. just a thought...

Walk On said...

MyLittlePony - you didn't say if you were riding English or western. I'm guessing English? Most likely hunt seat?

Some hunt seat saddles - and some all purpose saddles - are built so they really throw you forward much more than they should. I had a cheapie like that myself, and I had the very problem you described. It was impossible for me to stick a canter.

Look at the saddle on the horse after you tack up & check to make sure it's not badly slanted - like, if the back is six inches higher than the front, it's the saddle. (slight stretch there, but you get the point.)

Also try dropping your stirrups. Unless you are jumping, you don't really need them shorter, and having them shorter will help pop you up and out of the saddle. Which is what you want jumping, but not so much right now from the sound of it. ;)

I'd start w/ the old saw that you should be able to put your fingertips on the top of the stirrup leather and have the bottom of the iron touch your armpit. I bet that's way longer than you are used to, and you may eve have to bring it up just to reach them, but if you ride with them as long as you can easily reach, and force your heel down in them, it'll pull your seat down into the saddle by default.

Marleykins said...

This is a really weird problem that I have... I kinda forget to breathe at the canter. My instructors have made me do everything from sing to counting out loud to screaming "BREATHE!" at me. Although I am definitely getting better at it, it's still a struggle some days.

Malarkey said...

Re: Seeing a distance.
My favorite trainer always used to say "when in doubt, move forward"
This does not mean race, or 'gun it' but put your leg on and press till you feel the energy come forward...
And it works. I learned that if the horse is in front of your leg, the distances just happen. Once I figured this out, I could hit distances more consistently than ever before.

Malarkey said...
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