Crash course in stirrupless work.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet for me.  Instead of braving “Superstorm Sandy” I stayed in and cleaned my tack.

I brought it back to the barn last night, brought Bentley in, groomed him, and tossed my nice clean saddle up on his back.  The plan was to add the stirrups at that point.  I grabbed the irons and looked in the bag.  Uh oh.  No leathers.  Hmmm.

Now came the big decision: what kind of lazy should I be tonight?  The kind of lazy where I switch saddles so I don’t have to ride stirrupless the whole time, or the kind of lazy where I don’t want to change saddles once its already on.  I picked the latter.  Don’t ask me why, theres not a lot of rationalization for it.

The ring ended up being much busier than I expected considering lessons were cancelled.  DJ and her family were there too, our first time riding together since they moved in.  After it was all over, I asked Dre what she thought of Bentley (as she also rides an arab and had never seen me ride B) and she said she was more impressed with me riding stirrupless and having the coordination to keep checking my watch instead of desperately clinging to the saddle.  I had a good laugh and explained, the only reason I was checking my watch was in thinking “oh please let it be X minutes by now!”

I have been working hard on making a reasonable riding/conditioning schedule for over the winter.  I will blog more about it later, but last night’s ride went like this:

10 min walk warmup
10 min trot warmup
5 min walk
5 min trot
5 min canter
5 min trot
5 min walk
10 min trot
10 min walk cooldown.

Total 30 mins walking, 30 mins trotting, 5 mins canter

I am dubbing Wednesdays to be my dressage night.  I was hoping to ride entry test 1 (and even memorized it on train on the way home) but there were just too many people.  However, we did improve our leg yields to the left, and our right lead canter, both the symptoms of his or my weak side, and I did a lot of sitting trot, so I think that can kind of count for our weekly dressage day.

Like usual, we started on left lead canter, I had wanted to do 3 mins of this, but at 2.5 mins, I was exhausted, somehow it was more work than sitting trot.  I started to bounce unfairly on Bentley’s back.  So we walked a bit (took it out of our 2nd 5 min walk break) and changed directions.  On the right lead, it took him 3 times before he got the right lead.  I think what made the difference was I gave him an exaggerated open rein to the inside.  Part of whats hurting us is my tendency to twist to the outside when he is no longer straight.  The open rein helped me to stay straight and twist inside more.  I focused more on getting the lead than making a pretty transition.  We did have to stop partway through as more people entered the ring, we just trotted around until they were ready.  After that, it only took the second try and Bentley had the correct lead.  I think we are making good progress!

Also, by our second time cantering, I was focusing less on my seat and more about staying upright, not leaning into the curve like a motorbike.  I think it helped us quite a bit, hopefully it keeps helping us with the lead if I focus on that.  I think my seat actually improves when I stop thinking about it, just relaxing it, and focusing on changing something else.

For our last 5 minutes of trotting, I decided to post.  I don’t know whether it was Bentleys stride or my saddle, but I got hit both going up and coming down.  Who ever heard of sitting trot being more bearable than posting?  Seriously!  Not sure what I am going to do about that yet.  Will have to mull it over for a while.

And how am I this morning you might ask?

I’m pretty good.  I wont be riding a bike anytime soon (too many hits!) but my muscles are fine.  No cowboy walking.  My back is a little sore too, I tried to do some situps last night and my lower back was bugging me too much.  Not sure if its aggravated from the riding or just in general, I haven’t done situps in ages.

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