Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Conditioning Part 2

Since the Stephens Forest CTR, I needed to actively condition my horse, Finny, not just ride him for a specific amount of time or for a specific distance. Over the last week, I continued working on what I had changed during the previous week. I really hadn’t changed anything else. I needed to make sure that what I had changed was going to work for me. And it has!

Last week, I had decided to shorten my stirrups 1 notch. I know I could keep more leg on my horse if my stirrups were shorter, and this year I could do that. This year, with my Centered Riding exercises, I haven’t ached. My feet are grounded in the stirrups, giving my a solid feeling, like I am standing on the ground. I keep a little more leg on my horse as I 2-pointed, yet I still kept my knees soft and relaxed. So that I didn’t appear as if I was hitting the cantle as I 2-pointed at the extended trot, I hold just slightly more with my calves. But I don’t hold so tight that I am squeezing with my knees. Hold enough to stay steady when you 2-point.

I constantly check my balance now. I keep aware of staying in the middle of my saddle so I wouldn’t change my balance as I move. A slight ½” lean can make you appear very off center, with one leg longer than the other and with the whole body leaning. I stay aware of my stirrup and leg length. The angle of the upper leg should equal the angle of the lower leg. As I rode this past week, I stayed aware of staying in the center of my horse. When riders are centered, they ride over the horse’s center of gravity. You feel the horse’s movement, and you move with the horse. You move as one!

I had changed my arm position as I am holding the reins. I always check to make sure that I don’t have tension in my shoulders. With the additional Centered Riding exercises that I am doing, I rarely have shoulder tension. I also stay aware of how I am holding my neck. Centered Riding is about staying BALANCED. And having skeletal alignment. Since the head is 11-14#, (isn’t that amazing!), it doesn’t take much of a head tilt, looking down or looking sideways, to have your neck out of alignment. And with that weight tipped forward, think about how much weight is on the forehand. It would be like 2 or 3 5# flour or sugar bags leaning on the horse’s shoulders!

To work on Finny’s bit chomping, I rode with a mechanical hackamore this week. I love it!!! He is not anxiously or nervously chomping on the bit. He isn‘t even trying to chomp. It is amazing! He grazes easily. I have worked on him standing longer. When he didn’t want to stand still, I moved him forward and backward. I have stayed relaxed. The mechanical hackamore has done the job of helping Finny to relax.

Now, I’ll continue riding with the hackamore this week. I’ll add some distance and some speed. I’ll let him graze after each extended trotting time. I’m hoping for a more relaxed horse next weekend!

AND, another big area that I will work on this week, is HOW I 2-point. I have a traditional Quarter Horse Hunt Seat training, or what I had perceived as correct. This was NOT correct for Jumping! While during my 2nd part of the Level 1 Centered Riding Instructors Course, I learned that the rider’s CENTER is to stay over the Bubbling Spring of the foot! AND, when you 2-point, that remains the same! My next blog will be about me actively riding this way. I have also started teaching this during my past few lessons with students!

Come along on the ride with me! And continue to stay relaxed while you ride!

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