Jan 2, 2018
It's 2018 and a time for resolutions. I prefer to choose a particular inspirational word or theme. The New Year is a time when many of us aim to get our lives in balance. Balance is a great theme for your equestrian endeavours as well. Left to right, top to bottom, front to back - we're always working to get it in equilibrium. Here are a couple of exercises to get your motor running.
Rise to the occasion
Whether you're doing upward or downward transitions, they should always feel like you are rising to them. I like how Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester word their transitions as "up" to walk, trot or canter regardless of what gait you're coming from. Imagine downward transitions as landing a plane or a duck landing in water - the nose shouldn't ever go down and you have to maintain a good sense of momentum to attain it. Practice playing with tempo within a gait to work on front to back balance. For example, take a collected trot to a working trot and back again staying as close to level as possible. Support your horse from below lifting up energetically at each moment of transition. If your horse is heavy on the forehand, carry your hands higher with a shorter rein than usual so your arms look like you're driving a bus. This will take the power away from your arms and use your back more as leverage as you drive with your seat.
When it comes to left and right side symmetry, we often work more at bending to the less flexible side. Let's say your horse goes more easily to the right so you work more on the left to try and balance things out. You may have found this can sometimes make your horse even harder and heavier on the left. Perhaps your left arm has a way of telling you you've hung on the bit too much. Try riding to your horse's preferred side straight. In other words, prevent the horse from bending. When you ride corners, curves, or circles, draw straight lines like short diagonals or hexagons and cut your corners a bit. Your horse gets the benefit of going to the direction s/he prefers and you benefit from working the weaker side in a less demanding way. In this particular example it will help you get your horse taking the right side of the bit more as you send your horse forward from the right leg. Then incorporate rising to the occasion and reap a bit of both worlds.
I hope you have a great start to your year and use the snow! It's an excellent conditioning tool to ride in. If you have a particular question, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.