Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brag Time

We got 3" of snow at the barn yesterday. It was ridiculous. I turned Izzy out in the indoor and she ran and bucked like a maniac. Plus, there was snow on the roof.

"Ok," my adult re-rider self said, "we will tack up and lunge. If she's really, really good, then MAYBE I will get on and walk for like 5 minutes."

Izzy was lovely, calm and forward on the lunge. On for a walk it was. I decided that I would really work on my form--I have a nasty tendency to brace my right ankle up against Izzy, which is just plain weird. Why? Well, aside from the obvious aesthetic complaints, It means that 1) my leg is constantly applied to her side, which is a recipe for her to learn to ignore it and 2) because my heel is up, there is no tone in my calf which means my leg is ineffective and sloppy at best.

As you can see, my right leg is not being super attractive here. Grr. Heel down, dammit. How hard can it be?

Oh, and here I'm also tipped forward. Dumb things I do... the pictures allow me to see my faults and improve. Now I've also posted them on the internet so a whole mix of people can see them and think, "Oh, well at least I ride better than her."

Hey, it's a service I provide. I ride poorly so you feel better about yourself. ;-)

Here is me riding Izzy Saturday:
I would just like to point out that my ear/shoulder/hip/heel alignment is not that bad and my hands are finally not in my lap. Yes, my reins should be shorter which would correct the screwy wrist thing I'm doing, but overall, it's progress.

Anyways. Monday's ride was promising. One of my goals is to ride Izzy w/t/c without having to constantly use the whip, which was basically what we'd devolved to this winter. Amazingly enough, Izzy is fabulous. She's feeling better every day, now that we're sorting out the vast maze of teeth, chiro, and feed issues, and when I asked for a trot, we went forward into a soft, willing cadenced gait that about dropped my jaw.

It wasn't so much that we had the magical passage of a few weeks ago--it was just her willing forwardness. Yes, she's not quite reaching for the contact and I know she's a little curled behind the bit, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a week or so ago.

I'm very happy with the progress we're both making. We still have zero trot to right lead canter transitions, which means there is a deeper issue for Toni to attack soon, but in all other aspects, she's doing much, much better.

So much to look forward to this week...


  1. Wow, you guys look so so so good! She is such a gorgeous mare! I just love how she carries herself!

  2. You guys look amazing! All that worry about her not getting to fullfill her potential is poppycock if you ask me! If you guys look bad then what does that mean for me and Steady. She looks on contact, relaxed, round and stretchy what more could you want?! Ok as for the heel issue if you ask me just from seeing these two pictures and not being an expert so you can throw it out the window. Have you tried shortening your stirrup 1 hole? To me it looks like your leg is completely extented with no room for you to push into your heels. Your knee looks as if it has very little room to stretch without making you striaght legged and if you take your heel sitting where you are and push it down it will automatically straighten your knee more. So your leg looks great until you get to the heal so I say up one hole combined wit heels that are down will put your leg in the right spot. And it would be soooo much easier for you to start retraining your muscule memory for correct leg/heel placement. And if you want you could always lengthen you stirrps later once your legs do as they should. Blab blab blab sorry :)

  3. At least you don't tip forward as far as I do! At least when the camera's out... One thing that I have been taught to help keep your heel down is stretches with your legs. It's kind of hard to explain on the internet, but one way is to stand up in the stirrups and put all your weight in your heel. Another is to take your leg out of the stirrup and stretch it straight back from your hip and point your toes. Sounds weird but it stretches your leg and automatically weights your heel.

  4. My heels used to look like yours. What helped me was not thinking about the heels themselves, but what I was doing with my legs and what the root cause of the problem was. What I used to do, and what you might do too, was try to cue with my calf muscle instead of the side of my leg. This caused my toe to turn dramatically to the outside also. To delve deeper, I was trying to cue with my calf muscle because my joints all the way up my legs weren't relaxed, which pushed my toe out and heels up. Once we focused on the root of the problem - the tension - my heel naturally fell into place.

    The source of the tension was years of riding hunters and people telling me my heel had to be down so far. I know Dressage and hunters differ in opinion on this, but I was pushing my heel so far down in order to achieve the 'look' that I was creating that tension all the way up and down my leg, which made it more difficult for me to absorb the horse's movements. The correct heel position is not as low as you can go, but what makes you, with your own personal anatomy, the most secure and effective you can be.

    Hope that helps!

  5. I agree with Amys suggestions. You guys look great though, that bridle look seven better in use!

  6. No big deal with your seat in the first picture, as you look great in the second one, as does Izzy. Once again, you need to step back and realize how far you have come since starting this blog. I seem to remember a really scary horse....

    Training takes time. Some days progress rips along and warp speed, and other days, you seem to get nowhere. A horse is not a machine. You cannot always expect her to respond according to plan.

    You are doing a fine job with your beautiful girl.

  7. Brag away, you and your mare look wonderful! She has such a lovely trot. I love the Micklem bridle too, for the couple of horses that I've ridden in it.

    Also... the Wondermare? Could she perhaps be the online girlfriend of the Wunderkind? Hmm... I wonder if he's mature enough to handle a long distance relationship...

  8. The mare looks great, beautiful trot, kudos on your hard work.

    Have you heard of Colleen Kelly? I just met her at a Horse Expo and was really impressed. She's big on the biomechanics of riding and did a really interesting demo showing how easy it was to dislodge a rider who wasn't sitting correctly. One of her pet peeves is turning your toes out, it puts the wrong part of your leg on the horse and makes you less secure. Sadly her website seems to be down right now.


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