Thoughts after my lesson

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Thoughts after my lesson

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        06-04-2009, 05:08 PM
    Thoughts after my lesson

    I've been riding my friend's Arab bareback for the last couple of weeks because I want to work on my balance and 'loosening up my hips.' I think I'm beginning to get an idea of what the latter means now, and it seems so obvious that I'm not sure how I missed it before, other than that it's a bit harder to feel the horse under the western saddles we've been using in lessons. Well, the Arab is an easy keeper. So easy he's getting fat on pasture despite regular riding. Riding him bareback is very comfy. He's has both extra padding and muscles that conspire to make his back flat. Flat. Flat. Flat.

    Today I rode my intstructor's 9 yo OTTB gelding. She just got him last fall and is working on his suppleness and leaning into the bit. Nonetheless, he's a pretty good guy. I was riding him with a bareback pad and he was still pointy! His spine and my tailbone were a little too friendly for comfort. Any advice? Or is it just a wait and hope it gets better as his back muscles up? He's quite a bit taller and way narrower than the Arab I'm used to!

    Also, what is 'leaning into the bit'? And what do you do to fix it? He's being trained for English, so I know there's supposed to be contact, but it's supposed to be with nice vertical head carriage and responsiveness, not just "Cool, I can pull now." Which is what it felt like, almost like he was pulling me forward off balance part of the time.
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        06-04-2009, 09:21 PM
    Oh goodness! There is a lot to your question! First, although he will probably fill out a bit, most TB's are pretty uncomfortable to ride bareback! Hahah!

    Second, learning how to get a horse light and round (verticle) takes a lot of rider education and can't really be taught in a post on a forum! However, I'll try to give you a little crash course ;)

    1st- the point isn't to get the head down - that is just the result of getting the horse through the back...that means truely pushing from behind (impulsion) and lifting in the back. That creates a "round horse" (think of a rainbow shape from head to tail). In order to achieve that, you need to have a nice forward horse, pushing him from front to back up into the bridle. You then "catch the energy" by taking contact. Think of it as catching butterflies in a have to have soft but steady connection with the bit. Your elbow must not be braced, but rather have a firm elasticity - meaning you give and take but still keep that same soft connection.

    You use balancing half halts to maintain that frame. Again, if you are not familar with half halts, its going to be too much to explain here, but in a nutshell, a half-halt, as it may sound, is a "pause". For a moment you take the rein like you are going to ask the halt, bring your shoulders slightly back, tighten your thigh and seat, then soften. The point to is rebalance your horse so he maintains that light steady feel in your hands.

    The end goal is to create "self carriage" which is where the horse will carry himself in that frame for a few strides....with the occassional half-halt to rebalance and keep him there. You shouldn't have to carry him.

    Umm...clear as mud? LOL Why don't you come for a lesson hahah! ;)

    Good luck!

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