Week 2 – This week I get to make a new four legged friend

This week I get to make a new four legged friend, a handsome 14.3 hh bay gelding called Toby.

My first impressions, once on top, are a quick and keen horse.  More responsive to my leg commands than Foxy Lady but less responsive to my half halt instructions. Consequently, the traditional 1 horse length between me and the horse in front was reduced to a mere 10 cms, sometimes bumper to bumper!  Thankfully, Rosie, the 15.1 hh welsh mare and her rider Helen in front of us, didn’t mind!

Steph’s aim for the Take Back the Reins group this week was 1) to practice riding without stirrups to develop correct seat, posture & balance and 2) to introduce us to the 2 point position to develop a secure leg and use as an emergency aid should we ever need it i.e. that pheasant scenario I mentioned last week!

After a short warm up, the first step was to ride without stirrups whilst walking.  All of Steph’s pointers i.e. pushing into my seat, lengthening my legs and sitting up tall whilst engaging my core helped my balance & posture. The concept was tested when we tried the exercise in sitting trot!!  My instant reaction was to lift & grab on with my knees until Steph quickly prompted me to lengthen my legs and concentrate on getting my bottom (or seat) down in the saddle to stop me wobbling!

Next, we moved onto the two point position and the importance of using our lower legs to support our entire body out of the saddle.  Not having been blessed with long legs, Steph had difficulty deciphering whether or not I was actually lifting my bottom out of the saddle!  This exercise really helped me realise how much I could use my weight to put pressure into the stirrups and heels to my seat out of the saddle. With more practice I’m sure this will be an invaluable aid so I can move more fluently with the horse over undulating ground for instance and be less likely to be caught unawares by any sudden movements.

My tendency has always been to ride with shorter rather than longer stirrups.  After today’s lesson, I feel confident that longer stirrups will bring me more not less control and no more achy knees!  Really looking forward to putting these new techniques into practice on our instructional hack next week.

Helen and Mel relaxing without stirrups!

Helen and Mel relaxing without stirrups!

 

Check out our website for more details