Monday, March 19, 2012

Kick, Pull, Grunt, Strain

I rode Cuna on Sunday at the same time one of Stephanie's more advanced students was also working her horse over what looked like the world's simplest jumping exercise: two poles, one set on either side of the arena. I watched her ride while we warmed up, then did my best to mind my business.

As she wrapped up her workout, she told me to feel free to jump in and give it a go.

So we did. I mean really. Two poles? Not even a related distance? How hard can it be? All we have to do is stay straight and balanced on a nice, rhythmic circle.

^Apparently, that is SUPER HARD. Not mentally--it's a very basic exercise. It's just that Cuna and I are hammering out our respective responsibilities.

So we start over the exercise at a canter. I give him a kick to get him forward, then try to take a connection with the reins. We awkwardly hop the pole and he cross canters. I drop to trot, pick up a correct lead, take connection, awkwardly hop, worse lead change. Yikes! This isn't working.

Then the student explains that I am riding with my hands too much. Cuna is a long horse and he takes a lot of leg and core strength. Too much hand just unbalances him and makes him crooked.

We try again, this time with a little coaching. Kick forward. Pick up contact, put hands in neck. LEG ON. Steady to the pole. Not awkward. LEG ON. ENGAGE CORE. MORE CORE. Have to balance him from my body. Now forward. Kick! LEG ON. ENGAGE CORE. Not awkward.

We made a nice circle each way (after several attempts), and then I called it quits. Cuna had barely worked--I thought I would die. I am not fit enough to ride a long-bodied horse, let me tell you.

I mean, I can run several miles at a good pace even without training and be fine. I can do an hour long pilates class and barely break a sweat. I can work long hours at the barn and still keep trucking.

But ask me to put a big ol' horse together? That's no task for sissies.

I have no idea how I'm going to live through an hour long lesson tomorrow.

PS Tired of my steady barrage of cell phone photos? Look for real, actual pictures tomorrow! My favorite Ellie ever may or may not have made it out to the barn today.


  1. Sounds to me as if Cuna is going out of his way to make a real rider of you. Good for him...hard work indeed, but the rewards will be enormous.

  2. Can't wait for pictures!!! Score +1 for the ottb!!!! :p

  3. Cell phone pics are awesome! Cuna is also awesome, I love seeing your happy posts after riding him. I'm the opposite of you... I can ride for hours without breaking a sweat, but ask me to run and I probably look like I'm dying. I had to train to run the mile and a half that was part of tryouts for the equestrian team. Train. Every night for two weeks, took the dog for a mile, then a 1.25 mile, then a 1.5 mile run. I am a terrible runner.

  4. Yea for favorite Ellies!

    Although if we have to get by on just cell pictures we can...


  5. Hahaha I would have NO idea how hard it is to put together a long bodied Welcome to my world. Great job keeping at it! Good luck in your lesson tomorrow. Riding correctly always kicks my butt.

  6. I feel your pain! My horse is also super long and sort of sprawly, plus he doesn't like you in his face. It's allllll about balancing him with your core, upper body back, quiet hands, and steady leg. Try steering or half-halting with your hands, and it all falls apart. Sit up with your body, and you can pilot him around smoothly.

    Easier said than done though. I'm always exhausted after a 30 minute lesson!


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