I didn't start learning to ride until May 2010 and for the entire summer of that year was injured. My first year of riding was not that solid but since April last year, I've not missed a ride. I can walk, sit and rise trot, canter, and have started learning transitions and diagonals on a variety of horses. Come and join me on my adventures with my horsey friends all done with no sight on my part. don't feel afraid to ask me any questions. being blind and a horse rider is new, interesting and very exciting. So I hope you can gain something from reading this.
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Mucky Pony and A Question
I was very worried I wouldn't be seeing my beloved equine friends this weekend as we had some snow fall yesterday. However, luckily for me, it seems our little town had the snow, which melted fast and we were left with just ice. So instead of catching the bus to the yard, I had to get a taxi to prevent my bum getting injured on some slippy spot. I got to the yard, sun shining on the frozen landscape, and one of the girls informed me my tall, white, friend was really muddy so I could brush him if I wanted. I love brushing and getting the horses clean so I walked into the stable he was in which wasn't his own, it was my tall, cheeky, bay's stable and got my brushes out of my grooming bag and started to brush him. I found it easier to brush him in this stable as his usual stable is actually a foaling stable and obviously bigger than the others. This means less room for him to wander if he's on a circling mission which might sound strange but less room to look for him. I've brushed this horse more than any other at the yard and he's a sweetheart really and behaves well really for me. He hates having his face brushed so I decided to leave that to one of the other girls and tackle the rest of the mud. I can only imagine how discoloured my lovely white friend was today. Clumps of mud on the neck and legs. Mane and tail a muddy mess. So I started with the neck, as he was munching some hay and worked hard on brushing him well. I tackled his muddy legs with renewed knowledge. I did have sight as a child and remember what animals look like but learning the shapes of the legs and all the places, like the angle between the shoulder and chest where mud can hide, is something that has taken time to get familiar with. I never brushed right back under the tummy, in fear of going too far back. But my confidence and familiarity of the horse's physical form is growing and I apparently did a very good job today. After mounting on an icy mounting block, I was quite amazed on my instant position in the saddle once I had my stirrups. I've been reading a Pilates book and although I only started the exercises properly yesterday, I've been practicing the starting positions all week. This apparently helped me to unconsciously sit better in the saddle. We walked up the hill initially behind another horse but we were told to overtake and go in lead file. I had a walker today as there was a lot of ice and I totally appreciated that. My first trot was ploddy and lacked energy. I knew this would happen. Our first trot always seems to be a wake up trot. I patted him nonetheless and we arrived at the field. The mud was unbelievable and I doubted highly I'd get him into a canter. I was right! I squeezed hard and pushed with my seat but nope, forward trotting was all I got. My walker, or runner at this point was not surprised either and I don't even know if any other horses cantered. That was a bouncy trot too! He's a smooth gaited horse usually so when I felt the bounce in the saddle, I was a bit shocked. But I know he was pulling his hooves harder out of that mud so it makes sense. Despite not getting a canter, I have to say there were a few points I was pleased about at this point. As soon as I felt the bounce, my heels went straight down, elbows stayed in and I was square even in the saddle. I felt more in my seat, despite the extra bounce. I wasn't over balanced or anything which a few months ago, I would have been. So I'm not disappointed that we didn't get a canter because I noticed a progress. And not only with my ability to solve a problem while riding, which shows my balance is being controlled as I'm able to think about other things but my squeeze was harder today and more definite. Instead of telling me she wants more leg, and I'm not giving him enough, my instructor said I needed to be bossier as he didn't want to canter on the field because of the mud so he was doing what he liked. I took from that, that under normal riding circumstances, that level of squeeze would have worked fine but under today's conditions, he needed to be bossed rather than asked. This is where a question comes in. We talk about pushing on with the seat in horse riding. I mentioned last week that this horse responds more to a seat than leg. He'll take a combination but responds best to seat. But see, when I was told, push with the seat, and I asked for clarification, I'm not sure the answer I got is working in my head. So, here's my interpretation. Move legs back to squeeze with heels and roll hips forward so the front point of your sitting bones, [pubic bone if we must be specific], pushes into the saddle. Am I missing anything? I don't know if I am or not but if anyone has any further tips or better explanation, or another way of thinking about pushing into the saddle, I'd appreciate it. I feel the Pilates will help make the action more pronounced in time and maybe it's just a need to get muscles stronger. I also think, that now my ability to reposition without feeling wobbly and losing balance from giving a canter command and sitting relaxed to move into the canter will enable me to give a stronger squeeze and if need, a kick on. I've been holding back on the harder squeezes because when I tried to do it, I'd fall forward in the saddle. But now the balance and seating is stronger, I feel more capable of moving my legs independent of the rest of me to keep balanced and go with the horse. We walked off the field and had to walk rather quickly to get past something. I managed to keep him in a lovely forward walk and felt my arms relaxed but elastic with his mouth, my attempt with the seat to keep him forward and think I'm getting a hang of this whole riding thing. ;) We carried on and met the, biggest, scariest monster in the world! A trailer. As if he hasn't seen a fair few of those but this one was so big, and so scary, he just abruptly stopped. This is the second time he's spooked in a week with me. Poor baby. Why are the biggest horses the wimps? Got him past and had a lovely trot with him. It was much more forward as we were both awake now. A side note, I took off my gloves today as his reins kept slipping under them. I had a very wonky horse at some stages and he was certainly trying to make me be boss today. I finally got the reins under control. Think if I had my own horse and tack, I'd put little markers on the place my finger and thumb were meant to be to make it easier to pick them up and know they're right. Well, we got back to the yard, after moving off the road a few times for cars going up to the farm and I dismounted and took off his bridle. He did give me a huge hug while we were standing waiting to go back into his stable. It was so nice. His head resting heavily on my shoulder, him letting out long sighs of something. I reached up and his ears were forward as I spoke to him. Lets hope there's no snow tomorrow as I'm scheduled to head up again in the morning. Thanks for reading, Marie