Friday, October 10, 2014

Get Your Heels Down

I had another lesson a few weeks back on a much different horse/pony (? he's kind of in between). He was hard to get moving and you had to push, push push, but he was a DREAM for cantering once you got him going. Perfect for getting my damn heels down, right? I did a lot of of going around in two-point and a lot of sitting back in the saddle as far as possible and stepping into my heel for so many strides at a time. 5 steps of trot in the left heel, 5 steps of trot in the right heel and feeling them bounce and take impact vs. lock and be a swinging mess. I did the same at the canter and man did I feel the burn. It was a GREAT change to fix my heels, and I'm a bit confused how the left is worse now instead of the right, but either way, they both need help.

I kept my stirrups long since I was getting used to my dressage saddle and the endurance one, but they had to go up after the first jump I did. Yeah, those damn heels. I also had to work on my thumbs. Thumbs on top? Ha, yeah right. My thumbs always turn in towards each other and look bad. I had to trot and canter around with a crop in my hands to keep them straight. Funny thing is that the crop kept getting more and more vertical as I went. Sure it kept my hands together and my thumbs closed, but both of my hands would turn together, and I'd be reminded to keep the crop horizontal. If only I had a horse to practice this on more than once or twice a week and sometimes a month.

Little arab
I didn't just throw what I learned here away, rather, I used it when riding the arab that weekend following the lesson of good habit creation. Riding on trails is obviously a lot more lenient than the ring, but your heels should always be down for those moments when you might die (aka fall out of the saddle into sand - ha). The owner of the arab realized I was really working on my heels, posture, and balance. He let me know that I was a lot more balanced in the saddle and looked great compared to prior ride. Thinking about what I learned was just something I needed to be told because it wasn't coming to my mind on my own. Sure, I knew it, but I never tried to fix it. Soon, it will become second nature again. We did like 10-15 miles in a few hours with some controlled canter for a change. There was one episode, but we didn't get the scoot. He was falling into the bit and getting sloppy in the sand and had a nice trip, but problem solved - heels were down!

Campsite on the lake.
I didn't ride the arab the first weekend in October because I was camping with my friends in a state park nearby, but he was ridden for me to keep him in work. I am not riding him this weekend because the owner is away, but next weekend, we're riding both days because the 25 mile CTR is the following weekend - 25th!! We're going to go over the pattern that you need to do for vetting and hook up a heart rate monitor so I know how the horse is. Next post, I will talk about Spyder and his follow-up appointment as well as my last lesson which was the day after his ultrasound. Trying to keep up to speed, but all of the hand walking keeps me busy.

Spyder looks like a slob - no muscle and ungroomed everything
Fall is starting to come to the farm