Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Rider Issues

I'm guessing most of you remember Courage.
110% solid sex appeal
Beautiful. Tempestuous. Not an ambi-turner.

He had this sweet move where we'd go to turn right and he'd drop his shoulder and bolt left.

For better or worse, I stayed on. HOWEVER. The mechanics of staying on with those G-Forces involved putting all my weight in the left stirrup and staying to the LEFT OF CENTER every time we thought about turning right. (You'll notice this biomechanically compounded the not-turning-right issue. I never said it wasn't a shitshow.)
plz send your hate mail directly to my spam folder
Which, whatever. We dealt with what we dealt with and I owe y'all a post on C and how he's doing and some final thoughts, but that's a story for another day. 

The point is that now I ride my glorious ZB who is the champion of the entire world. 
champion of outfits too

Fun facts: baby mare is a-ok with turning either direction. Canters on both leads. Has zero baggage about racetracks or pressure or whatever. See again: champion.

Now, I had someone else put the first 10 rides on her because I knew my brain wasn't up for it. AND. She gets twice weekly training rides by my trainer because again. I want her to be started well and not just haul around my baggage for me. 
and clinics!
I had to have a laugh the other night though. I was riding with a barn buddy in the indoor. 
not this night. a night we actually put on saddles. 
We walk/trotted around to the left and ZB was KILLING IT like the champion she is. 

And then we changed direction. 

INSTANTLY she was overbent to the right with her left shoulder popped out and completely unable to turn right. 
photo by Courage Has Opinions
I tried changing a number of things with my hands and reins and that didn't really help at all. 

I had to just stop and think about it a while. 

ZB is TOTALLY FINE for my trainer, which means it's a me issue. 
return of the dik dik
And oh yeah, the way I survived the HARD BOLT LEFT was to get all my weight to the left.

If we're keeping track, ZB is super round, which means my weight left means my saddle slides left.

It didn't even matter how much I told myself to step into the right stirrup--I'd just drop my weight into it, brace against it, and twist my saddle ever farther left. 
you're making dik dik jesus cry
I find the timing here interesting. This problem hasn't really cropped up for us until right now. I'd wager it's because we're stepping up the work. Zoe is performing at a similar level to Courage when he stepped down, which means my subconscious is kicking defense mechanisms into high gear from sheer force of muscle memory.

It's frustrating, because my conscious brain isn't even slightly rattled. I'm building a new thing with Zoe. She's an incredible force for good in my life and I enjoy every moment with her. 
also hats are itchy. fyi.
I have a plan. I have a trainer. We're going to fix this. 

But omfg body. GET ON THE BUS. 


  1. I have a friend who rides, who has a almost entirely fused spine from scoliosis, and she has to have her stirrup irons be uneven. Not sure what your car accident caused you, but don't be harsh on your self for legit physical issues. But glad you have a plan. :)

    1. I am THE WORST at body awareness. Work in progress for sure.

  2. PTSD riding issues are so hard to overcome!! I still have some defensive riding maneuvers I revert back to.

    1. Ha ha and that's not even talking about my sweet hunter perch that I bust out... always.

  3. Cut yourself some slack. I have the same issue- going up into troll corner I am overweighted to the outside because of self-defense. It's hard to fix. Especially whne my body just says 'F-you we want to LIVE'. But it is doable.

  4. I can relate to this post so much right now. I had a previous horse that was very nervous and flighty and prone to running away with me and making me feel like I had zero control. I thought I had gotten over that with my current horse, who is a steady eddie and more of a kick ride. But he dumped me about a month ago due to some pain issues that have since been resolved, but ever since I have found myself reverting to my old habits of tensing and clenching and holding onto the reins for dear life. Probably nothing has really changed with my horse, but I kept telling my trainer I was having flashbacks to my old mare and how I felt when riding her; like I had no control. It's so hard to fix ingrained body issues like that, even after you recognize what you're doing and tell yourself to knock it the hell off!

    1. I love how clenching the reins is literally never the right answer but every human on earth has to try it. Thanks biology!

  5. Quick tip you may have already tried...ok two tips...first an easy way to get your weight over to a certain side is to go “ballet toe” on the opposite stirrup. Take the weight out of the one stirrup by thinking about/lightly putting that foot toe down, heel up. That will automatically shift your weight onto the other side. Also think about rolling your shoulder on the inside back to help lengthen your torso and ditch the leaning in. My trainer had me do this on Duder for a while and it totally worked!

  6. Now that you're conscious of it, I'm sure you'll nip it in the bud quickly. I'm jealous that you could hold on to that move. I had a horse that did it landing off fences and I fell off every damn time.

    1. Yeah I dunno if I could have stuck it over fences. That sounds dirty.

  7. Dear Aimmee's Body,

    Riding the bus is much more fun and easy than being drug bodily behind or alongside it - and with ZB as the driver* of this bus, you're gonna LOVE it on the bus.


    *I know, I know, rider is driver, but just go with it for this metaphor :-p

    1. Ha ha ha. I like it. Maybe I can have that engraved?

  8. For what it’s worth, almost every rider has an issue with leaning one direction or the other and it’s not because they all have repressed PTSD. It’s usually a mechanical issue, no human is 100% even and balanced on both sides of their body.

    I lean left, myself. Yoga and strength training help a lot, as does having someone on the ground to yell, “Stop leaning left, dumbass!” You can also turn your head towards the opposite shoulder while you’re riding (right shoulder in your case), which shifts your weight over. For me, it’s definitely a problem that I have to constantly be conscious of, but I can easily correct it as long as I stay in shape and pay attention to what I’m doing.

    1. You're also one of the most badass people I know. FWIW.

  9. The first step is building a new (healthy) partnership — CHECK. Step two is being aware of the problem — ALSO CHECK. And finally you’re working with a pro to help you — TRIPLE CHECK. See? You’re already well on your way 😁

    1. Conscious incompetence is the worst kind of incompetence.


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