Monday, August 8, 2016

Things I am working on: Getting left behind

In my last lesson, my trainer pointed out to me that I tend to get left behind in the transitions. It's just for a moment, but it's noticeable, and I'm starting to understand how much it affects the overall quality of the transition.

In the w/t transition, my hands get just a split-second behind and Taran doesn't step right up into it - because I'm blocking the energy in front (duh) and he just can't do it. The same thing happens in the upward canter transitions, only it's worse because I also tend to lean WAAAAY back. I guess I think I'm sitting up and helping to get the weight off his shoulders? So now my body is hugely behind the motion and well, again, I'm blocking the energy.

Taran's tail expresses displeasure at my leaning in the t/c transition.

I also sit behind the motion in canter and in the medium trot. To me, it feels like I'm sitting straight, but one look at a still shot and it's pretty obvious how far I'm behind. I wish we had mirrors so I could check myself, because it's really hard to know when you're off if you feel like you're correct! I think I'm compensating by leaning, instead of using my core to stay with the motion.

Leaning obviously makes the medium trot better.

In the downwards transitions, I look down, roll my shoulders forward, and lean back. In my head, the leaning back is weighting his haunches so he'll sit more in the transition, but the looking down and rolling my shoulders just makes me brace against him and dumps him on the forehand. Oh, and I take my leg off too, because everyone knows you don't need any leg in a downward transition (haha). This has led to some spectacularly awful downward transitions with his haunches trailing in the next county, but hey, he's doing exactly what I asked!

You can also roll your shoulders and look down at any time - no need to wait for a transition!

So. I'm on a mission to do a better job of staying with Taran's motion. To help, I've come up with a mini-checklist for myself that I've got playing in my head as I prepare for transitions:

  • Shoulders back, but bring the upper body forward so that I feel like I'm leaning just a smidge (this actually makes me sit up on the vertical).
  • Engage the core - think of pulling my pubic bone up toward my chin with my core (that's the image that works for me, ymmv). 
  • Elbows relaxed and following but NOT rounding the shoulders (this is haaaaard).
And then in the gait, especially in the canter, I check to see if I feel like I'm leaning slightly forward every time I go past A/B/C/E (I'm not really forward, I'm sitting up straight - it just feels that way right now).

Hopefully with some vigilance on my part I'll get better, but man, it's HARD to retrain your body to get rid of those bad habits. Fortunately, when I'm right, Taran goes better, so it's good positive reinforcement!

What are you working on right now?

P.S. For those of you who played the "Guess how much Brego's shoes cost" game on Friday, Alli was correct with $600. My bank account is still whimpering. 


  1. I wish I had that problem! I am one of those riders who ends up perpetually tipping forward. I didn't even know that the opposite problem was possible, so thank you, it gives me hope that middle ground is achievable! haha

    I totally get the part about needing to feel like you are leaning forward. I need to feel like I'm leaning back behind the vertical to actually be straight.

    Good luck with the position retraining.

    1. Oh, I'm a pro at leaning back. With a little practice, you can be too! :D

  2. GOLD STAR FOR ME!! I also tend to get left behind, I think as an over-correction to my hunter ring perch of old. It's so hard to find that middle ground!

    1. You would think that sitting up straight would be easier, but it's not. Boo.

  3. I love his expression in the first picture. I have the problem of hurling myself forward into transitions because that helps, right?

    1. Oooh yes, throwing your upper body into the transitions is also good! I do that too if I'm not leaning back. So effective!

    2. Lol, that's my favourite thing to do when I think a horse won't step into their upwards transition right away! Because adding weight to their forehand totally helps. OH, I also flap my elbows when I mean to be kicking... I'm sure that helps too.

  4. Christ those were some expensive shoes!

  5. I hope those shoes last a lifetime