Sideways and Circles

So often riders have told me that their horse falls in on one rein or out on another, they can do a lateral movement one way and not the other; and no matter what they do they can’t fix it.

However when we then assess the rider we almost always find some sort of asymmetry or uneven weight distribution.

This of course then transfers to the horse and then exacerbates further on a turn, circle or lateral aid so whilst that rider thinks they are giving perfect aids both ways and the horse is ignoring them one way they are actually giving different aids for each rein.

So if this is you it’s time to stop blaming your horse and have a really in depth look at Exactly what You  as you give these aids.

Starting straight on and from neutral-first we must establish neutral.

  • Can you feel both your seat bones equally? Are your feet equal weight in your stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis –or try sternum in line with pubic bone. That is front to back and left to right? Do you arch, hollow or tip to one side?
  • Is your head floating on top of your neck, central and looking ahead?
  • Are your hands equal weight, height and length on the reins?

It is really useful to have someone on the ground to help you with this as often what we think is happening is not necessarily the case. We wouldn’t be fluffing our circles if it was would we!

Now in a walk start a 20m circle and run through the check list again. You see the idea is not to lean to the inside and motor bike around the corners. It is perhaps useful to imagine you are on train tracks and as they run around a circle they still stay equal distance apart and you remain equally attached to them.

As you turn; your body will turn with your horse so in fact you stay in neutral together around the circle.

  • Are your seat bones still equally weighted?
  • Are your feet equal weights in the stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis?
  • Are you still looking straight ahead?
  • Are your hands level?

Try it again in a leg yield. Using leg yield right as an example.

  • Can you open your right hip slightly to allow the horse to step over?
  • Is your rib cage still facing the front?
  • Are you still equal length front to back and left to right?

 

Again it is really useful to get someone to watch this. If that’s not possible I often set my phone up in the corner of the arena and video myself to watch back afterwards-it’s brutally useful!

If you can keep everything in balance throughout on both reins I guarantee there will be an improvement in how your horse performs them.

Reaction Riding

If you see the videos of my classes you will see sometimes we’re outside in the arena having a great laugh balancing on gym balls and wobble boards throwing stuff at each other, sometimes without looking at the person or saying a different name etc to make it more difficult.

 

Of course there is usually lots of laughing and everyone does enjoy themselves but is there some method in this madness?

 

Of course there is!

 

How many times have you been merrily trotting along on your horse then suddenly you’re going sideways or facing the other direction? Those pesky pony eating invisible monsters!

 

To stay aboard and hopefully maintain some control takes not only good core stability but also super fact reaction skills.

 

The majority of the time you are on your horse your body is reacting to the movement underneath you so spooky horse or not your ability to ride consistently well is affected by your reaction time. Of course spooking and “surprise” behaviour just add an extra test into the mix but your ability to react can make the difference between a minor second of non compliance or a hitting the deck scenario.

 

So that’s what we’re really up to on those gym balls throwing stuff.

 

Why not have a go at training your reflexes and reaction times yourself?

 

You don’t need a group of crazy women on unstable surfaces (although I highly recommend it for the fun element). Instead why not try.

 

  • Learn to balance seated or kneeling on a gym ball. It will move underneath you meaning your body has to react to stay balanced.
  • Throw and catch a ball with one hand.
  • Throw a ball against a wall.
  • Try the ball throwing on a gym ball……
  • Play with a Reactor ball -it’s an odd shape so when you throw it on the floor it pings off all over the place meaning you have to be sharp to keep up!