12-06-2011, 12:57 PM
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Miles in the saddle :P miles on the ground (light lunging) and for you, toning exercises like strengthening that core and working on balance by sitting on a stability ball for a few minutes (and building up) each day. (And kudos for using ground poles, that helps a lot! Line 4 or 5 up in a row, 5 steps apart to get him lifting his feet) Both under saddle and while lunged!
Under saddle, what really helped my horse was to keep him nice and large (on the rail only) for a few laps, then cutting the arena in half and working on the smaller area for a few laps, then changing directions across the diagonal (from short side to short side) but instead I would get him about 2 meters from the beginning of the short side so he had time to get his feet in order before the turn) and get him doing those every other lap. Then I'd start breaking the arena up into circles at every corner (large circles.. like 20 meters) for about 3 laps, and then go back to large for a few laps.
Well when he was unbalanced, letting him work it out on the rail helped him a lot. When I shortened his work space by only working with half of the arena, he had less time to get ready for the turn so he would start thinking more about where he feet were. Then I'd work on the two together by doing what I call diagonal figure eights (short side to short side across the arena diagonally) but I'd give him a little more time to figure out that corner so he wouldn't trip on himself and he'd start using those muscles. Then I'd do circles at the corners, and over time, they'd get smaller as he became more fit. We'd start with 20 meters, then go down to 15, then 10, now 5. He learned to put himself together on those circles and then he could tackle the straight pieces without falling apart.
And I also mentioned light lunging. When you lunge on a lunge line, you need to make sure the horse is bending and when you give him more line and ask him to move out, he should ideally travel sideways (like a leg yield under saddle) and if not, you can always help him by pointing the whip end at his ribs.) Walk, trot, and canter. Letting him walk at a good pace, trot at a good pace, and canter well for a few strides (then build as he gets fitter) will help a lot. I've found though that transitioning from walk to trot to walk to trot to canter to trot to walk.. or something similar, helps them to get their feet in order as they transition up and transition down. Especially those trot--> canter ----> trot and trot---> walk, transitions.
Lastly, the stronger your core and the more you work on that balance out of the saddle, the better you are able to keep your seat. By him working on his own balance, and you working on yours, it'll make for a smoother ride. But of course, nothing beats just riding it out under saddle :)