I rode Thumper today and he was an absolute DREAM. He usually braces and trots faster and faster, and his canter is usually out of control (probably my tenseness at that point contributes to the problem). Today before I left, I made a list of the things I would work on and it helped. I tried to stay relaxed and it really helped. He had a normal trot, and his canter was in control and smooth. So here are the pictures for critiques...
No-Stirrup Work (my first time in a long time so I was waaay out of shape)...
I don't usually rest my inside hand on my thigh, it's just what works with Thumper. At the moment, when you don't do that he doesn't balance himself out and just speeds up and up and up until he is out of control. I'm not saying that that is the only reason he's improved, but it helps a lot with him. You can feel the difference right away when you do that with him. Thanks in advance for critiques!
You know why your hand on your hip works for Thumper not speeding up? (love that name by the way) See how when you bring that hand back, it lifts up your inside shoulder a little bit and flexes his head to the inside a hair? Flexing his head to the inside helps put his weight in the proper place and keeps him balanced, and lifting your inside shoulder frees up his inside shoulder to allow him to canter without you blocking his inside shoulder.
Position looks great except for cantering ones where you're in a bit of a chair seat and hollowing your back a little. Try tucking your tailbone under a little more and think about relaxing your lower back. (easier said than done especially if you're riding a missile). Looks like you might still be waiting for him to take off a little.
I bet, if you start riding him in frequent transitions, you'll find his balance improves even more and you'll be able to shorten your reins a little to get him more supple on the bit. Obviously if you in the pleasure disciplines that involve long reins, just ignore this paragraph.
Morganshow- the red thing is his tag. The barn I ride at has at least 16 lesson horses, and it's way too easy for bridles and halters and saddles to get mixed up. So the bridles and halters have name tags, and the saddles have tags with numbers.
MyBoyPuck- I always have a problem with a chair seat. Today I was working on that in the trot, and I forgot to work on that at the canter. Yeah, my reins are too long. The problem is that when the reins are shortened a little, he tenses up and speeds. I agree with the last paragraph, though. I think he tenses up because he expects riders to be pulling back on him WAY too much. He's a speeding bullet if you don't ride him exactly right and I've seen people ride him and they shorten their reins far too much and pull back, which just gives him something to brace against, and he sticks his head in the air to try and evade the bit, and it's just a vicious cycle. (I have done the same thing- I'm not trying to place the blame on other riders; it happens when you expect him to speed up. I've been working on relaxing so I don't do that now). Thanks for the critique! By the way- I love the picture under your username- the horse is gorgeous and it's a great photo!
Sadly, I'm not going to be able to ride for another week so I won't be able to work on the things you guys suggested for a while :(. I hope to ride out of lessons the three days the week after next, though, and I have two lessons scheduled so hopefully I will get back into riding a lot! Do you guys have any suggestions for keeping my legs under me? Exercises and such?
Unfortunately I think the chair seat has something to do with a weak core. (stomach muscles) I'm not sure how much it really has to do with legs. I started doing pilates to strengthen my stomach muscles. I've always struggled with chair seat and am hoping a stronger core will help.
I know that you said that Thumper tenses up when you shorten your reins, and that riding with your hands in your lap actually helps you, but I've been there too. I think you should try to shorten your reins up a bit, but instead of having them too far back, try to put them forward a bit. It should have the same result, but will look much neater, and eventually will teach him that just because you have a short rein, doesn't mean you will tear on his mouth. Unfortunatley, this is a common problem with lesson horses. If you get him to relax with a shorter rein, you can eventually work on bending and working him onto the bit.
I think you look pretty good, and you and Thumper are a good pair. The no-stirrup work is defiantley a good idea to help you with your chair seat. Another way to fix that, is to shorten your stirrups up a hole or two. It may be uncomfortable, but it will strengthen your leg muscles, and when you do go back to a longer stirrup length, you will be able to hold your legs back in the proper position. Other than that, bend your elbows a bit.
On the great side, it's nice to see that you are sitting up tall, and looking where you are going, instead of down at the horse.