Confused, Ted!

23 07 2013

Shall I kick off by bringing you those photos I couldn’t post last week? Here you go, then: Introducing my girl-crush and a lovable nuisance.

This week I was on Maddy again, who I have learned is an Irish sport horse of 16.1hh and, at 19 years of age, one of the oldest horses at the school. I was glad of this; as much as I do like to meet and ride new horses, Maddy and I have the measure of each other and I wasn’t sure what our stand-in instructor would be like.

She was excellent, as it turned out, although I received a bad first impression of her when she scolded me like a child for not checking my girth before mounting. I don’t deal well with people speaking to me in a condescending fashion (if there’s a surefire way to make me snap at another person, that’s it), but I bit my tongue and politely explained that we are not in the habit of doing this ourselves at the start of our lessons (our regular teacher usually does it for us), whilst demonstrating that I do know how to do it, and then tightening it for myself after I’d mounted. Thankfully she didn’t talk down to me like that again after that.

She made us work hard, though. She was tough and very critical, but cheerfully so, and praised us all graciously when we did things right or improved on our first attempt. She put us through some valuable bend exercises, working with circles, was hugely critical of my leg position (it actually physically hurt me when she twisted my leg into what she insisted was the ‘right’ position, and it was tough work trying to keep it that way. Roll on my physio appointment on the 22nd in the hope of some correction!

For having said all of that, I was hugely flattered when she told the rest of the group to watch me in sitting trot, because she thought my sitting trot was very good! Having been made to do lots of it in the early days of my riding endeavors as an adult must have paid dividends.

I am very confused about two things she said to me, though. I meant to ask her about them, but each time she gave me guidance she moved on to the next rider too fast for me to interrupt, didn’t leave time for questions at the end, and I had my hands full with Maddy by the time she’d stopped talking. The first was that more than once she said I needed to ‘open up my hips’. I don’t understand what she meant at all. Second, I am really confused about what to do with my legs in canter now. Previously I’d thought that you keep your inside leg on but you relax, as with going around in any gait; she seemed to instruct that we keep the sweep back with the outside leg going for as long as we wished to remain in canter (which is not dissimilar to what I was taught to do in Japan). At least that’s what I thought she was telling me to do. On my second attempt she told me I wasn’t pushing on with my leg like she’d told me to, when I thought I was doing exactly what I was doing, and that made me question whether I was doing the right thing with the right leg. I wanted to stop her and ask her to explain to me, slowly and in layman’s terms, exactly what each part of me was meant to be doing after the transition but again, I had no opportunities to do so. Answers on a postcard!

It was blistering hot and much as I had enjoyed the lesson, I was glad to get down when I did. I handed Maddy over to her next rider and ducked behind a low interior wall to get my jodhpurs off as fast as I could under a skirt I had been wearing previously with no regard for who might have seen my arse in the process. One nice thing about having a pet at home now is that I don’t feel quite so disappointed when I realise that I really should leave the stables and go home…

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7 responses

24 07 2013
theInelegantHorseRider

Hmm that does sound confusing to say the least! Currently I am taught to ask for canter with the outside leg then to keep them in canter using my inside leg. With the open your hips, again only my personal experience but I get told a lot to make sure I don’t grip on with my legs during canter I get told think ‘froggy legs’. I doubt any of this is stuff you don’t know but thought I would say anyway. Love the pictures by the way.

24 07 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

That sounds sensible, yes. My usual instructor does always tell me that I have a problem with clamping my knees into the saddle rolls, but it’s not a conscious thing, nor does she think it is about insecurity any more – she noticed that it might be to do with the curvature of my spine and the way that affects my resting leg position, which is why I have made a physio appointment.

That said, I understand that this is not an excuse not to try and maintain a good, open leg position, because I do understand that the issue will not correct itself by my conceding that that’s just the way I am and doing nothing. And, by extension, that if I don’t do anything I won’t progress as a rider.

‘Think froggy legs’ is a great piece of advice, though, and one I think will stay with me. Thank you! (:

24 07 2013
theInelegantHorseRider

That’s such a good idea getting the physio appointment and I totally understand what you mean about subconsciously doing something. Whenever I start to feel slightly out of balance I start to round my shoulders forward and stand on my tiptoes in my stirrups which is daft as that certainly doesn’t make me more secure. Looking forward to hear how the physio goes, good luck with it all.

24 07 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

Thank you!

24 07 2013
Sparrowgrass

Most confusing! When I was first struggling with canter I googled the outside leg thing a lot and found some people saying one thing and one the other, which might suggest either is OK. I think someone on a forum said that if you’re going on to try to bring your horse on to serious dressage it will give you problems if he’s used to you having your leg back all the time, but on the other hand I think for some riding school horses if your leg isn’t back then it’s trot time. I took the message that either is ok if it works for the horse you’re on, assuming you’re not hoping to go to the Olympics on that horse 🙂 I actually don’t know which I do now myself..

Open hips I have no advice on. I’ve heard it, but have little idea what it means!

24 07 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

Hmm, I think that what I may do is for every weekend that I have free, call them and ask if they’ve had any cancellations so I can book a lunge line lesson, and ask an instructor then. I may as well while I’m working and can afford it (:

24 07 2013
Sparrowgrass

That sounds like a great idea 🙂

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