Saturday, September 22, 2012

another good ride and a day off

Keil Bay and I had a very good ride today. We did our warm-up and I realized that I was holding my abdominal muscles very tight - which seems to happen when I focus on making sure my lower back isn't arched. It took some thought and attention to practice straightening my lower back without engaging the muscles, but the moment I did it Keil Bay's walk became big and rhythmic with his characteristic panther swing.

Once I realized how much better we were going I abandoned all thoughts of anything but making sure I stayed relaxed. We finished the walking and then did our sitting trot/walk/sitting trot exercise. Oddly enough in the sitting trot I'm not tightening the abs so that might be part of why Keil Bay is so on the aids when I do it.

So many things improved with this simple observation and effort to release the tension.

We broke the trot sets up today - 3 circuits of the arena in one direction, then a walk break, then a sitting trot circuit, then a walk break, then 3 in the other direction, etc.

The walk after this first set was phenomenal - we had both really relaxed and loosened up, and everything felt so good. Although sunny and warm, there was a stiff breeze that felt good and kept the bugs away.

Another 3 circuits using the same sequence was equally nice. And we did more big walking before doing a final trot set each way.

The half halts and transitions were really nice too - another week or so of this, adding in the canter, and we'll be ready to put 20m circles into the mix. 

Today, although the temps were higher, Keil Bay's sweat pattern was completely between the hind legs, and since it was warmer, he got a full bath instead of a hosing after. He was completely happy and relaxed, standing beneath the oak tree, on the small stone wash area we created. No mud! And Salina and the donkeys came out to visit while he got his bath.

Tomorrow I'm taking daughter to her first foxhunting event of the season - an all-day clinic where she'll be riding the new Thoroughbred mare she's going to hunt with this season. It should be a fun day - two mounted sessions and two unmounted sessions plus breakfast and lunch provided. I'm auditing rider first aid and yoga for riders. :)


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like another wonderful relaxing ride with the big bay.

I'm sure you and your daughter will have a lovely day at the clinic. It's always nice to go out and meet horse people. Let us know how you both liked the Thoroughbred mare and how the day went.

billie said...

We had a terrific day. The mare, Jane, was off last night but not today so trainer took an extra horse just in case. Daughter ended up riding Pilgrim, a newish TB gelding who is 8 and a real character. She hadn't ridden him before today and out at Carolina Horse Park where the clinic was held, they did a great job together.

She did two riding sessions with Paul Striberry, whose teaching I liked a lot. Very much focused on the horse and working through one's own body to achieve good movement.

Unfortunately we ended the day with a clinic with a "natural horsemanship" man. Although it was titled Ground Manners and Creating Partnership With Your Horse, it was all about being dominant and cranking the horse's head around to the barrel, using whirling ropes, contorted legs with spurs, etc. to achieve what he was calling (erroneously, I might add) "suppleness and softness."

Of course I had to raise my hand and inquire why the demo horse looked so angry and aggressive when the rider turner her back to him. And why his ears were pinned.

Answer: all horses are like that. They don't like to be told things. We have to be dominant over them so they won't dominate us.

His understanding of herd behavior was seriously flawed too, and he thinks the horses out west did not come from domesticated breeds. Apparently my horses and their non-aggressive behavior toward me are anomalies and if I "went out west" I would see what REAL horses act like.

Oh my goodness.

When I mentioned the word partnership, which was after all in the title of the clinic, I was told there is no such thing between horse and rider.

I could go on and on. I stayed long enough to see a 3-year old being ridden as a demo and then got up and left.

If I knew the man's name I would write it here as a precaution - but I don't know it.

Yuck yuck yuck.

But - otherwise - a lovely day with a lot of folks who seemed to love their horses.

Máire said...

I am really enjoying reading of your rides with Keil Bay. You are getting great feedback from him. I am reminded of what my chi gong teacher says of not tensing muscles but using your bones for strength..hard to explain but it makes a big difference to the chi gong exercises anyway. I must remember to try to transfer it to my riding.

billie said...

Maire, that is such a great image to think of when working on this issue - thanks for sharing it. I'll try it out tomorrow!