It’s so hard to believe it’s 2020 already, where does the time go?
I was excited to get to ride Ernie outside the day after Christmas. Since he came just earlier in the month, I figured we were inside until spring and honestly I was a bit nervous to see if he was different outside. He’s a good egg though of course!
Most of the items I’m working on in my riding currently, besides trying to keep my shoulders up which is a never-ending battle, are geared towards reversing habits and muscle memory from riding Maestro. I’ve decided this is called the recovery phase.
The biggest item is that I need to relax and ride the horse I’m on. I have developed a bit of anxiety which is not related to the fence I’m jumping but what the horse might do before (grab the bit) or after (buck, grab bit, squeal hop) that I’m working on losing. This anxiety causes me to hold too much tension in my knees and hips, and also to sometimes do nothing when I should be moving up to a distance.
One of the other things I worry about is getting the strides in a line. Honestly Stampede was the only horse that I never got nervous on for that because he was so huge that doing the strides required a quiet canter often. I’ve discovered that if I get Ernie to the right pace and just let things flow he has quite a decent stride (duh!), but I’m still in recovery there too!
Another issue I’m having is with the left to right lead change. This was the direction Maestro had issues, and he required a very weird and different ride for the change that Ernie does not need. Maestro liked you to ask for the change immediately upon landing off a line and to hold your ask for several strides while also lifting him and sending him forward. When I do this to Ernie he is obviously confused and a bit overwhelmed by the rush of aids and thus usually bobbles the hind change while getting tense. I was then conversely just sitting there and dropping my hands and failing to provide him any support off a line with a very short turn and getting the same result. So soft leg holding our course and hands lifted is all I need. I had good luck last lesson getting it right, but I’m sure it will take time to get that ingrained again.
Below is a link to two videos I posted on Instagram (click in to see the second one). The first one is me going down the diagonal line coming home and into a left to right lead change – you can see the tension I’m holding in my lower body a bit still, but even after getting in a little tight we find the strides out. My trainer had put out some poles as a guide to help me lift my hands and ride the corner better, so we execute the lead change correctly. The second video is of me redoing a rollback I had botched on the first two tries just due to not moving up to the distance despite seeing it. In this video I come around, put my leg on, and move up appropriately.
Regardless of everything else, I just keep going back to the word fun. I feel so lucky to have the ride on a horse that challenges me on the flat (trotting after cantering is hard guys!) but is giving me so much confidence back over fences.
So that’s my biggest riding goal for 2020 – just to have fun. I’m on a good horse who can allow me to improve and push myself a bit outside of the comfort zone I’m currently stuck in, why not enjoy it?
What about you guys? What riding habits are you trying to break yourself of in 2020?