Sigh, the mirror doesn't lie - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-09-2010, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Sigh, the mirror doesn't lie

So, last week I moved my horse to a new barn. For the first time ever, we have access to an indoor arena. It has several mirrors along one wall, so you can take a peek every now and then and see your progress. Yesterday while I was in riding, a woman came in with a 4 year old OTTB. It was clear to see that she had a lot of riding and probably training experience from the moment she mounted. I watched her ride this horse in a nice round forward frame which I didn't even think a 4 year old could do. The horse was absolutely floating.

Anyway, after awhile of working my horse and watching her work hers, I dared to take a peek in the mirror and see how we measured up. While my horse was reaching for the bit and tracking up to some degree, my reins were still a mile long and flopping with each head bob. I probably could have shortened 3"s or more to get to a proper length. I was not amused at what I saw and really want to fix it.

I could easily make the excuses that her horse has a much better conformation for dressage (which she seriously does) and she's a better rider, but she just got this horse a month ago and she looks fantastic. Clearly I am simply not asking enough of my horse and I am currently not a very effective rider. We got all 5's & 6's on our last dressage test which confirms we're just doing enough to get by. I'm going to be taking my first lesson with the new trainer later this week, but was just curious about how to begin addressing this. Do I simply take up those 3" and tell my horse to deal with it, go back to lunging until he can carry himself better without me on him, or something in between? I know he can move the way that little mare was moving by the way he trots like a big stuffed rooster when we're out trail riding. It's beautiful. I just need to figure out how to produce it when we're working.

Please, I don't need any propping up. This isn't self bashing. No excuses. I just need a plan to start fixing it.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-10-2010, 04:15 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
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Ah the joys of mirrors and videos!! You think you're doing great, then see yourself ride and want to fall into a hole and never come out!! But again, we are our own worst critic (well... some of us, of course there are others who believe they could do no wrong lol!) so can't beat ourselves up over it.
Good on you for not making excuses. I LOVE getting my rides videoed as i don't have access to mirrors, and having video helps me critique myself and give myself a lesson so to speak. There are so many things you can fix on your own once you're aware of them rather than going to a coach for every little thing ;)

As for how to fix your problem, I would take up your reins that 3", and really REALLY concentrate on his hind legs. Put him on a circle in front of the mirrors so you can see, get him over tracking! So leg, and most importantly, don't forget to ride with your back and core!!!!! That is the number one aid I always forget I have when things come unstuck, then suddenly I'll remember, half halt my back once and next second horse is sitting on it's backside light as a feather haha!
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post #3 of 4 Old 05-10-2010, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
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I would be cautious about making big changes on your own since you're going to be lessoning with someone shortly. It's easy to just shorten the reins and not get enough energy from behind, and then your horse will be very unhappy. I would work up to it more gradually. You haven't said what your horse is like, but if he's gotten the message from you for quite some time that everything was fine, he might not react well to a sudden change. Most importantly, you're going to need to change how you use your body (back, abdomen, and legs), and until you understand exactly how to do that you won't be able to get him forward as easily as this more advanced rider can.

Congratulations on your honesty with yourself and your determination to get better. You will!
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post #4 of 4 Old 05-10-2010, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Okay, I'm already loving those mirrors. I hate riding inside, but there were 50 mph winds today, so indoors we were. I worked on both of us together. Thanks to the wind, it was have his complete attention or die, so we started right away on bending and flexion to keep his focus. Then we started trotting with my "regular" contact, which is not much. Every time he tried to talk me into more rein, we came back to a walk for a few strides, back up to trot, and I took up the resulting slack. After about 10 minutes and 5 zillion transitions, I had the horse pretty good looking horse trotting around in those mirrors. There was still more slack that I'd like to see, but that will come. I had more impulsion than I've had in awhile, so I think we're already back on track. The mirror kept reminding me to keep my legs under my shoulders since I apparently tend to let them creep forward a lot more than I ever knew, so I am now really happy they're there. I'll have to try to get some video and see what you guys think before our next show. What a difference a day makes.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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