Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Random riding related thoughts

I rode the cutest little Thellwellian pony the other day. 13.3hh squared. Got on it because it was really hauling it's rider around and needed some breaks reinstalled. But sooo cute *g* hahaha Twice the width of Si and half the height. Typical square pony body-type. Huge floppy flaxen mane. Soooo hard to take that seriously *g* Really surprised one of my students since I kept teaching while I was riding, but she hadn't seen me mount -- was looking around to figure out where I was talking to her from. hahaha

For the curious: A Thelwell

Now the educational component of the day... For those who've ever wanted to run Rolex: Run Henny Run The rider has a helmet cam on as he rides a clear run around Rolex. For those not in the loop Rolex is the only **** (read "four-star") event in NA. To put this in perspective, the Olympics are generally accepted to be of the three-star level. I will be ecstatic the first time Si runs clear around a one-star :) ummmm 3 years from now if the world is good.

Make sure your sound is on. Some things to consider (beyond "holy frig those jumps are big!" :) Note how and when he uses his voice. Both to praise and to steady. And the horse's reaction! (watch the flickering ears :). Also -- in a few places he counts the striding (how many between the squirrles?). Perhaps shows my students that I don't drill this for my own amusement *g* It is a skill required at ALL levels!

Yes the camera jiggles -- he's on a galloping and jumping horse! But in general it's amazingly still -- telling you both that the rider is always looking up (the once or twice it drops my guess would be he's checking his watch) AND that body folds correctly (ankles, knees, hips) so that his upper body can remain still and balanced. Even over the fences. Even the drop fences, where you see the horse's head disappear as it lowers a good 6' or so... The camera stays straight forward.

Watch how the pace changes when he approaches a fence -- and when it doesn't! (wind sound will help you judge this :) Some fences are appropriate to be taken at pace, others not so much... Flying over a big open table in the middle of nowhere -- barely a check. Riding up to a big skinny corner combo? That requires a very different gait.

And perhaps the most important part -- at the end of the ride he's off that horse pretty much the second they cross the finish line. First priority is getting the horse untacked and cooled out. The rider doesn't even pause to take off the helmet (even as he's being chastised for not having a sponge! hahaha we're all human :)

This wknd I was off to the new world... For me, that'd be a Western schooling show. Now being a schooling show, you have the same level of casualness and horrendous riding you do at any schooling show. But there were a couple there who could ride. The friend I was with was way underchallenged by the whole thing (although she doesn't seem to realize it >;-P) So far beyond the competition it was just silly. Well except for the whole not knowing left from right thing -- apparently that's a challenge in any discipline! I was entertained that by the 2nd class I could pin them in the same order as the judge -- but again, schooling show, doesn't require all that much skill to evaluate *g* Just needed to figure out which classes were eq and which were under saddle :) I will say I prefer dressage letters to pylons for patterns. Had to laugh though as most of the riders neglected to leave enough space between the fence and their horse to spin. They'd get half way through and get stuck. An experience thing I guess, but still - you'd think that'd be something you'd figure out pretty fast. Or at very least after watching the first rider run into that problem! Sheesh. Was an entertaining and fairly informative day anyways. I love "hesitate" as one of the instructions on the test (as opposed to halt) inbetween movements. hahaha. That one amused me to no end -- seems to sum up the diff in attitude so well. Hesitate instead of Halt. Immobility. (always w/ capital letters and periods). hahaha ok enough of that :) As to how the day actually went? Well that's not my story to tell... :) Always good to visit another world though. And admittedly I'm very impressed by the bridleless reining (not demonstrated here, we were just discussing :). The most I've ever been able to do was get Zel to trot a figure 8. And even that was ummm interpretive :)

And now a mini-rant... So I was doing an assessment lesson the other day and the student asked me how to use her reins (a totally appropriate question - and she's at the level above "pull left to go left" -- looking for more detail). So I stared with "How you use your reins depends what you want to do..." Which she answers immediately with "I want to do hunter". Ummmm ok well w/o commentating on the choice of sport, missing the point entirely. Do you want to move the shoulder, flex/bend the neck, the poll? What are you trying to accomplish. It drives me to the end of insanity students who come to me saying they don't need to learn something because they don't need it for "their" chosen style of riding. Learn how to *ride* first - then pick the appropriate tools for the job you want to do. The good riders cross-train and can switch rings as necessary. One week hunter, the next dressage. Another day XC. Yeah I have absolutely no interest in competing in the hunters -- that doesn't mean I don't respect the skill required to put in a good hunter round. And it's something I'm entirely capable of (thanks to a way-back-when coach :) should I choose to. And likewise, even if you never plan to leave the hunter ring, you should still know how to sit to the canter. Learn to ride first. Learn the different skills, options, and techniques -- then you can use whatever ones are required in whichever ring you go in. Yes they change depending what you're doing (compare a hunter, to a dq, to an eventer going down a 6' drop and you'll see three very different positions!) but you should know how, when and why to use each AND be able to do them. Ugh. Ok off soap-box now. And credit to said student, when we had this discussion she gave a sincere try at accomplishing something outside her chosen "style" to fairly good results :)


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