Friday, December 15, 2017

The challenge of doing nothing

Last Friday Trainer A suggested we have a lunge line session.  I said yes, whole heartedly and loudly.  I love lunge line lessons, but I hate asking for them because I've taught enough to know how miserable it can be to turn on the spot for 30 minutes.  I always got the spins.

I got chucked on the lunge line with no reins or stirrups.  Our goal?  Transitions with no leg or hand.  Using just my seat, I needed to adjust the trot and walk.  Canter?  We just wanted him to canter forward nicely with minimal nagging.  With nothing else to worry about, I could really focus on my hips and seat.  I felt how they were swinging and then took control of them to get my horse forward and back based just off of how my butt and his back interacted.

Mary Wanless has a concept of a butt print.  It's the idea that your butt leaves a print on every horse you ride and the more you ride the same horse, the more your horse shapes to your butt print.  I am now trying to make my butt more than white noise to my horse.  I'm trying to make him listen to my butt, which requires me to not generate that white noise.

It was interesting how my free hands and lack of stirrups highlighted my balance issues.  Your left seat bone is perfectly fine, Catie, try sitting on it!  It's a toss up on who is causing our bracing to the left.  Could be my damaged joints on that side, could be his weak right hind.  Chicken, egg, etc. 

Dat neck, though

Could I stop and start without hands or legs?  Mostly.  I kind of feel like I'm cheating, practicing downward transitions with Theo.  It's his default setting.  Transitions within the gait and downward transitions off of the seat were doable.  Transitions upward between the gaits require a touch of leg and always will.  It's how his pony brain understands I don't want more within the gait, I want a new gait.  My old h/j habits showed up when my hip closed in the canter transition.  It took me staring at the ceiling and a hand on my hip for me to keep that angle open through the transition.  I knew I had it when I felt the pull through my lower back and Theo stepped right into a full size canter stride.

Trainer A wants to do more of these, especially in the dead of winter when Theo breaking a sweat is bad.  I'm entirely on board.  I can be tortured quite effectively without my horse having to do too much work.  He was mentally working, becoming aware that my seat actually meant something, but he barely had a sweat mark under his saddle.

A cold front came through, complete with a storm, so poor Theo has barely been worked this week.  My lesson today should be very amusing for spectators. 

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