From Endurance to Dressage
It's On the Tip of My Brain
You know how you know something, and it's just right there, at the tip of your tongue? That's how I am feeling about my balance right now. Except of course the idea is not at the tip of my tongue but rather just on the edge of my thinking. I can feel a puzzle piece shifting back and forth trying to snap into place.
The trouble (well, just one of many) I am having right now is being able to converse with Sydney with the inside and outside reins at the same time. When he's running on his forehand, my balance is just not good enough to give a half halt with the outside rein while then asking for some flexion with the inside rein all while either catching his outside shoulder or moving over his inside shoulder.
But something Chemaine said at our lesson a week or so ago has taken root and is trying to blossom into understanding. She reminded me that I have a very nice saddle that is both deep and grippy. She encouraged me to use my saddle to sit deeply and not lean forward. I've been keeping that idea in my mind as I ride. What I've noticed is that when Sydney does get quick on his forehand, I do lean forward, if only slightly, which makes it impossible to ask him to rock backwards onto his haunches.
As I lean forward, I've also noticed that I hold my breath, lift my shoulders, and round my back. When I lower my center of gravity, I exhale, lower my shoulders, and lean back. While riding this past week, I reminded myself to sit up tall and thought about lowering my center of gravity. When I did this, my balance was better which allowed me to use the inside and outside reins at the same time. I was amazed at how quickly Sydney quit running off on his forehand. Well duh.
Each ride this past week has tightened up this idea of sitting deeper and more relaxed. Once I develop a feel for something, it's in place, and I wonder how I couldn't feel it before. That's how this is. I am starting to truly understand why I can be more effective if I quit leaning forward.
Let the puzzle be complete!
I tend to get pulled forward when Loki leans on me and is on his forehand. Another thing that helps me to sit tall is to think about activating my core. When I try to sit tall just through my back I get pulled forward when I add by ab muscles to the mixture I am much stronger.
3/26/2014 10:27:44 am
Good advice, Amanda. What I am learning for myself is WHICH core muscles to activate! I tend to want to resist through my ribcage rather than down lower. I work out (planks, pilates, etc.) which is helping me to isolate and be aware of the different muscle groups that I have.
Oh, I never thought that much about it but that really makes sense. I always carry my tension right in between my shoulder blades and try to resist simply using my shoulders/back which does not work at all. Next time I ride I'll have to try to see if I can feel the difference in my lower and upper abs/core.
3/26/2014 09:35:29 am
Presque Vu! In the Vu families of frenchdom. I lean a lot more then I should, I like blaming how big my horse is and his neck length... but really I need to find my balance too.
3/26/2014 10:29:39 am
I've spent all fall and winter working out … planks, pilates, one legged stands, diamond pushups, etc. all in an effort to strengthen my core which has helped my balance! I should write about my one leg tooth brushing exercise! :0)
I love that feeling. I too am a leaner and I have a horse much like Sydney. I lean forward, tense my shoulders and grip with my thighs. The image that works for me is to think to breathe down through my stirrups. This helps me to activate my core and let my leg down through the stirrups rather than grip.
3/28/2014 12:31:47 am
That is me too!! My instructor just realized how strong my inner thighs can be when I get tense, I am not helping my horse by holding on so tight. So my current mantra is "no thighs" until they learn to relax...sigh.
3/26/2014 11:15:32 pm
After reading all your challenges with Sydney I've realized that even though my guy is rude and rushes thru my aids all.the.time, it's because he's unbalanced and unsure. You have given me the inspiration to keep at it, I'm not the only one in this spot, and he needs to take some responsibility too.
3/27/2014 10:23:08 pm
These guys don't make it easy, do they?
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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