I have actually been able to ride recently, but this post is about watching our friend ride. M, our friend, came out both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday she rode Rosemary again. When I asked if she wanted to ride Dottie, she answered "No, I want to ride the pony." Love sharing the fun of ponies. Each ride they both get more comfortable with the other. This time Rosemary cantered more easily if not for very long. M changed direction to try to get her to pick up her right lead. If given a choice she will always go left. M made a couple attempts, putting Rosemary on a bend for the transition then going straight, but they did not get the right lead. I watched and realized she was dropping her hands when she asked for the lead allowing Rosemary to change her bend. Once I got M to shorten and raise her hands, Rosemary picked up the right lead. That pony is so great. Nothing teaches someone better than clear results.
Well on Sunday, I did not give her a choice. I told her she needed to ride Dottie in case Rosemary was not available at some point. Plus I wanted to ride the pony :) I let her use the dressage saddle on Dottie and put the wide on Rosemary for the first time. Just needed some extra padding. M choose not to carry a whip, which I gave an evil internal chuckle over. Even I do not get on Dottie without a whip. So of course, Dottie pulled the slow as molasses routine. It is so funny to see a 16h horse doing barely a jog. Unfortunately that also brings about tripping too. I told M Dottie did not trip once when I rode her the day before, so she really needed a more active trot. After a bit of work on her part, she did get Dottie moving better.
Just like with Rosemary I constantly had to remind her to carry her hands. I had her shorten her reins and bend her elbows to help. Well Dottie began to slowing seduce her into easing not just her hands forward but her shoulders too. Time for an intervention. I racked my brain on how to get through to her what she needed to do and feel. This is what I came up with.
I told her right now she and Dottie were traveling in a rectangle, long and stretched. That is how Dottie wants to travel and she is following.
|Different friend riding, but close to the "Rectangle"|
Instead she needed to ride a in a square, put together and even. If any part of Dottie is outside the square she needed to bring Dottie into the square.
|"Square" More up in the shoulder and neck|
So if she gets heavy on the forehand, raise your hands, bend your elbows and put your shoulders back to bring her front end within the limits of the square. If she trails her hind end, use your leg to activate and push her forward into the square. I really stressed that she needed Dottie to adapt and not herself.
Can you believe it worked? Bless Dottie for showing exactly what I was talking about. M was amazed at the suspension Dottie achieved when she was not on her forehand. Even I was a little surprised how well they came together. I said "See the Big Girl can be fun too."
M probably could not walk the next day after that ride. It was great to see her more aware of how her own riding really effects how the horse moves and reacts. My riding improves when I watch others and help.
A valuable lesson I learned in high school was that the best way to learn is to teach.