Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lesson 4: "Jim Bob"

I opted to leave Sunny at home again this week - and ended up riding a Country English horse by the unlikely name of Jim Bob. I've never ridden, or even considered riding Country English, but as you'll see, the big action was pretty much a moot point anyway.

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Jim Bob is lovely, although a bit of a puller. Apparently a previous rider taught him to lug badly on the reins - my assignment was to successfully get him to soften - while remembering all the things I tend to do consistently wrong regardless of who I'm riding. I was sporadically successful... Clever E, to put me on a horse that will pull if I'm not working to fix MY habit of giving away my hands!


Can you see the hunt seat lessons resurfacing?

E got on first and rode for a few minutes to give me an idea of how JB goes. A Dutch Harness horse/Arab cross, he's big and round and upright. Like Nick, the horse I rode the last time, he's been to Arabian Nationals a couple of times (Country English and Native Costume), but also like Nick, JB is now headed for a second career. He's going to be a driving horse.
A less forward horse than Nick energy-wise, with E on board, he looked plenty firey, and I admit I was a bit nervous, as powerful as he appeared snorting and blowing, high-stepping around the arena.

Once I was on, although his bigger stride and upright front end made it feel like I was flying, he was really very smooth and comfortable to ride, and I never had the slightest feeling of being out of control.


As you can see, (I wish I had some pictures of E riding him for contrast) with me riding him, JB looks a lot more hunter than country! And although I didn't have to work to make him go, I didn't get more than a few brief snip-its of the action JB showed off with E.

That's okay, though. I'm learning - and a lot of what I'm learning is where MY issues are. The lessons are definitely making a difference in my confidence level, and hopefully in my riding in general. The good news is that I have fairly consistent bad habits. The bad news is that they're pretty ingrained.

For example, for the last several years when I ride I always end up with a lot of lower back pain. To the point where if we're trail riding and doing a lot of walking, I always end up getting off and walking about half the time.


I'm starting to realize that the main cause isn't only lack of riding and nerves making me tight - it's also HOW I ride. Instead of sitting up and breathing, tightening my abs, tucking my butt under and squaring my shoulders, I tend to collapse forward, stiffen through my lower back, and give my hands away. I need to remember POSTURE - to stay both fluid and firm.


So if Sunny pulls, rather than me softening to him, I need to keep driving him forward into my hand until he softens to me - if I automatically give him more rein, all I'm going is reinforcing the pulling. makes sense, doesn't it? Sigh...

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After my lesson we headed over so T could ride Rufus. I borrowed C's Casper, and we just had time for an 8 mile loop before it started getting dark.

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