Saturday, June 9, 2012

A New Way Of Going

For both Rosie and I.  
"S" has been taking lessons for a while with a trainer who follows the Mary Wanless "Ride With Your Mind" way of going.

Earlier this past week "S" helped me with my position - introduced the "kneeling" in your saddle.  Your supporting most of your weight in your thighs using your core to stabilize and control all movement.   While kneeling you will be keeping your core incredibly stable and strong by bearing down.  All of this naturally helps with keeping heels, hips, shoulders, head aligned.

One exercise that has been incredibly helpful in learning this form is to shorten the walk stride to the point where there are four very deliberate steps.  To shorten the step you take up contact but do not pull back or hold them up, get very strong in the thighs holding your weight up off the saddle and bear down through your core, breathing from the bottom of your diaphragm.   The result is an immediate lightening of forehand, haunches coming underneath and her back coming up to meet my seat.  Rosie was poll high, nose vertical with the ground but not sucked back, her shoulders appear to get HUGE in front of me, and I feel the hind legs come way up under us.

It's amazing!

After a week of riding in this manner there is so much improvement from both of us.

The other thing Rosie learned this week was to turn on the forehand.  "S" got her rear end "un-stuck" for me then showed me what she was doing and I was able to do the same.  It's getting better and better every day.

Rosie and I had a real honest to goodness lesson today.  Our first in a very long time.  I explained to Jodi what I had been doing, the changes I saw and felt, and explained my concerns.

1. This new go - we kinda lost our stop.
2. Canter - left lead is almost always not left lead.
3. A few "naughty" behaviors "Draft-attude"  -- kicking out when tired and pushed just a bit further.  Tossing in a small buck (not pain - just a toddler throwing a temper tantrum).
4. Throwing head forward and down to yank reins out of your hand, or pull you out of the saddle, when she was tired and has decided she's done.

Jodi hopped on and was immediately pleased with our new uphill and light on the forehand way of going.  She did a little trotting, introduced turn on the haunches (which I forgot to ask how she was queuing it because I couldn't see it), then cantered.

She got a bit of that Draft-attude in form of a decent buck - Rosie didn't do that again!  Right lead was good, left lead she had to work to get it picked up correctly.  Rosie is weaker on that side and actually naturally bends to the inside (most likely my fault I'm stronger on my left side and my right leg is shorter than my left - so it makes some interesting riding at times).  Once she got Rosie straight in front left lead was perfect each time.

Then it was my turn in the saddle.  I went right into this new position I've been riding in and showed Jodi what I've learned.  The only "tweak" she wanted to make was my shoulders - they need to be down and back just a tad more to open up my chest.  This is something I'm already aware of and am working on.

Then we worked on transitions while holding my position.  I need more outside rein and inside leg -- when don't we need more or if?

Canter transitions - Right lead she wanted to do running trot but I nipped that in the bud immediately and next time I asked it was perfect canter depart.  Jodi said "That's an 8!"  I wanted canter to halt transition and I've worked a long time on not throwing away contact through the downward so she doesn't literally fall on the forehand (tripping).   Since Dressage doesn't have sliding hock stops which I know how to do (Western Pleasure back ground)  I had to figure this one out.  She is so huge and heavy.  I figured out that for now half halt, think halt and sit down like I'm going to push my butt through the saddle with my core works. BAM! halt within four downward strides and she didn't fall on the forehand, instead she was up and square.

Left lead - listening to Jodi the idea is to get Rosie straight and balanced.  If need be tip her nose to the outside.  My mind was made up to ask on the long side so long as I had a good balanced trot.  I was having issues with straight until it felt like I was over bending her slightly to the outside but she picked up canter right away and on the correct left lead.  I asked one more time - got it and was done.

My homework is transitions, transitions, transitions - and get my shoulders down and back.

I opted to not show next weekend, instead get more lessons, and will show the Starry Nights Series that starts in July.



  1. Your description sounds similar to what I learned last week in my clinic in Tenessee. For what it's worth, when I ask for a turn on the haunches (with forward movement), it's all outside aids. I ask for a slight inside bend by massage the inside rein. I slowly lift up the outside rein to loosen the jaw. Finally I put my outside leg behind the cinch and rhythmically put pressure on the outside rear leg which drives the inside front leg for the turn.


  2. Sounds great, and nice to have that second set of eyes and a support . Go you !

  3. An interesting way of going. Sounds like your lesson(s) have been very rewarding!

  4. Sounds like you and Rosie are figuring out what works for you.

  5. Wow...lot's going on here. I have trouble understanding/visualizing the method of riding -- it is not just you, I ALWAYS have trouble with that, even when reading in books or magazines about different methods of riding or how to do this or that. you are a MUCH better rider than I!!! Keep up the good work!


Happy Trails!