Monday, 26 July 2021

Homework

 Following on from our little adventure, you may or may not remember EC is a big fan of teaching people how to problem solve, rather than just ride. After every lesson or clinic she assigns homework in the form of exercises to work on and goal posts to look for.

The plan for me is to continue having lessons with her for the foreseeable future. She knows me well, I trust her, and I haven’t found much value in the brief forays I’ve had into clinics and lessons with others closer to home. I’m going to try to get to hers once every 4-6 weeks, or she’ll come to me. Just having that renewed support plan has taken a huge weight off my shoulders that I didn’t know was there. 


Picture has nothing to do with anything, just seemed like I needed one here.

Homework

For me, the big take home is just to trust myself and my experience. I’m more capable than I think. I've gone a step further and have a sports psychologist recommendation to try out. I'm tired of my brain trying to tell me I'll fail and creating all the anxiety around that.

On a physical level, it's been a long while without regular lessons, so remember to check my position every few strides. I unfortunately had a clinician try to change my leg position, and while it’s technically more correct, since I am not built that way it’s created some tightness in my hips and also resulted in my leg being a bit too “on” all the time. So, lots of work to do adjusting that. My new to me saddle is not great for me, either, it wants to put me in a chair seat, so maybe time to look into something semi custom for Sophie and I rather than fighting used saddles that are “good enough” all the time. (I'm not ready to unpack that just yet...;)

For Sophie...she’s still very immature physically for her age. I really need to work on that. Under saddle, that means I have to insist on her using her back properly and build up a stronger topline.


Sophie: "Uh oh, she's got a plan that sounds like work!"

For now, stick to walk and trot, ride 2-3 times a week. Lots of walk on a loose, rounder, contact, swinging through her back. Add hills if I can. Canter just a little so it’s a thing, but leave it alone for now. Her canter is huge, and I risk making it lateral if I try to school too much in the arena because she’s simply not (currently) strong enough to consistently hold herself with a rider from falling out sideways. 


Exhibit A: wandering around, not building any topline or fitness.

And it's not like we don't know how to do it.

In trot, ignore the little ‘speed wobbles’, and just rebalance. Forward, forward, forward :)

*trigger warning if you have strong opinions on longeing, fixed side reins, or vienna reins*

My other suggested homework is to long line or longe a couple of times a week. Loose side reins or vienna  reins, or long line - ideally mix it up so she’s not always using the exact same muscles in the same way or finding ways to lean or resist.  The main idea is she can build more muscle without worrying about balancing a rider too - this will apply really well for canter. While I do think such tools can be used unwisely, in this case I think it's a valid use - pony needs to build up some muscle and use her body properly rather than flinging herself around, and I like the idea of not always adding my weight to the puzzle. I tend to longe her around me as I walk around the arena,  so she gets plenty of straight lines along the rail and there is less worry about the wear and tear of a fixed circle.


Trail riding last night. I made sure to incorporate big hills, because as you can see, I can't be trusted to keep a contact and make her work all the time.

The overall verdict was that she's lovely and I'm totally capable of bringing her along. Stop doubting myself and start putting in the hours consistently. Also, if I make excuses, EC is just going to come visit me and hold me accountable, so resistance is futile  ;)

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12 comments

  1. Love this! You got this! And anyone who has an issue with responsible lunging in side reins needs to grow up, lol. I did the same thing for Aeres who was not strong enough to canter well with a rider when I first got her, and it worked great. Sometimes they do need the chance to build muscle without a rider in the way, and then it makes having a rider up a more positive experience. As with anything, it's all in how you adjust and use them!

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    1. Yes! I'm liking the plan of riding 2-3 times a week and lunging or long lining a couple more. I'm reluctant to put her into a 'grown up riding horse' program of 5 day a week rides until she's stronger. But she's not going to get stronger sitting in her field!

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  2. You are inspiring to me, figuring out a way to make lessons with EC work even with a ferry ride involved. Meanwhile I'm over here hemming and hawing about reaching out to a trainer that's an easy hour up a straight shot highway from me. So thank you for that unintended motivation! 😁

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    1. lol, what I wouldn't give to be an hour away! Enjoy your lessons ;)

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  3. Vienna reins were SO helpful for Katai. I also switched a bit between that, riding, and side reins so that she didn’t get “stuck” in one position but the Vienna reins in particular helped her since she wanted to get tight and lama around.

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    1. That's my issue too, we're going through a bit of a testy llama stage while she figures out where she should be. I worry about how hard it is on her back to be in that posture with a rider, even if it's just moments here and there.

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  4. Sounds like a sensible training plan. I have an immature 3 almost four year old and I feel you about getting some physical development without too much wear and tear. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you! Building up strength without risking too much wear and tear - I'm probably over cautious, but rather that than a sore pony.

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  5. Love this- this trainer sounds like a valuable resource to have in your pocket. Lots of great takeaways here for sure! Actually 99% of your homework is stuff I should be applying to my green 6yo gelding and just have felt "meh" about it all...! Keep us posted on how it all goes!

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    1. She's so fantastic for me. I regret that I had to move away and couldn't keep in a regular program with her. I overthink everything, so it's refreshing to have someone who is able to break everything down into manageable, simply explained pieces.

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  6. I am a huge fan of the walking lunge, used to do it all the time with Ramone when he was young, it's not only a good way to get straight lines in, but also acclimate them to different parts of the arena.

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