Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paddy's First Private

I brought my new horse, My Shamrock Paddy, with me to hack out and get to know—but, since I was here with Rainey (and the essence of Jimmy Wofford!), I opted to take three private lessons the first of which was today.

Rainey is OBVIOUSLY a fine judge of horseflesh, because she loved Paddy.

Here are some things I need to remember as I get to know my new partner:

Paddy is smart; he has this wonderful headset that fakes you into thinking he’s on the bit when he’s not. PUSH, push, push into the bridle. DON’T start by fiddling with the reins, or he’ll get behind my leg. Push into rein. HOLD STEADY w/ outside; be gently, gently wiggling fingers on inside, and pushing with the inside leg at the girth. If I can remember to do all of these things, he’s more likely to come through and not have the “fake” carriage.

I work FAR too hard when I ride….I need to remember that dressage (and riding in general) is simple. The horse moves away from pressure. Give him a place to go—“open the door”, and reward him when he does it by giving with your hand, and even w/ the leg a bit. BE STILL! That’s his reward when he’s good.

Try to end lessons with something the horse is good at. Be thinking “what kind of brain do I want them to have back in the barn?”

After all these years of riding, my legs still aren’t quite right. HEAVY SIGH. But I do think part of my problem is not knowing how to use my lower leg properly. When I ride w/o stirrups or bareback, I tend to use my thigh and knee too much, freeing my lower leg to use when I need it, but it’s pretty floppy the rest of the time. What I need to do is to apply more pressure on the horse right below my knee. ..but not AT the knee. It’s a subtle difference, but a significant one, I think. I watch riders like Will Coleman (and I’ve NEVER seen a picture of him where his leg isn’t spot on), and I wonder HOW they get so consistent. Yes, I know it’s “miles”…but it’s also got to be miles reinforcing the right thing.

Interesting: Rainey said I should be posting up and down; other clinicians say I should be posting forward. Hmmmm. She also said that when I jump, my rear should move towards the back of my saddle….and that’s what I’m trying to do, but when I do it too much, I get in trouble. SIGH. I wonder if I’ll EVER learn to ride quietly and in balance?!?!

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