Finding My Seat

This has been, hands-down, the most difficult, drawn-out, confusing, and physically-demanding lesson I have had to learn yet in my riding career. Finding my seat. I have been visiting Natural Fitness  to help with flexibility, strength, and balance training (and have noticed a big difference!!). I had between 2 and 3 months of lunge lessons on Atara this winter, and I am now starting to get what this “seat finding” means…. Because this is such a complicated thing to understand (for me, at least), I decided it would be much easier for both me and you to read it in other people’s words, so here are some sources that I found particularly helpful….

– Horse Listening: How to Arch Your Back, Scoop Your Seat Bones, Unleash the Power

– Your Riding Success TV (via YouTube)

– Stabilize Your Pelvis (via Dressage Today)

– Dressage with Catherine Haddad: Focusing on Where and How to Sit

Looking for the Good Within the Bad

For quite a long while, we have been alternating lessons: Monday on DeJure, Wednesday on Atara. However, because we are in preparation for our first show of the season, I rode Jure both days this week.  Before I continue this story, two things are important to know….

First, I have had a fairly long history with my lower back, from the sixth grade, when I started seeing a chiropractor.  Inserts were given, and the issue resolved itself, until this year.  It happens when I bend down, even without heavy lifting or being sudden.  It tweaks, and I can’t move for half an hour.

Second, one of my biggest issues that we have been working on this winter is avoiding, as Liz (Austin) puts it, sitting “windswept”.  This makes sitting, especially in the trot and canter, much more difficult than it needs to be, and throws Jure off balance.

So, what’s the connection between the two here?

We are moving houses (again), so I was packing up my from before my lesson. Unfortunately, as I leaned forward, I started to feel the dreaded pinch and went down. I sat for a bit (more like lay down on my face), and started to stretch it. I had less than 20% mobility than I usually have.

Keep in mind this is half an hour before my lesson, a day before my first show of the season.

So, fast-forward 30 minutes with a lot of heating, icing, stretching, repeat. I am sitting on Jure, telling Tanya about my back, when she realizes that this is actually a good thing. I can’t lean back! And if I do start to, the agonizing pain should remind me. So, we go on through my lesson as normal, and ended up with my best position riding yet! When I stayed upright and tall, I could focus on keeping my hands up, which helped keep my elbows in, which helped everything else!

This taught me an important lesson: to make the best out of what you’ve got, and to turn a negative experience into a positive one.

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Comeback Rides

Last night, Jure and I had our first real lesson since the day before she went lame at Centerline @ HITS! Both the mare and the ride were amazing. She showed off her bravery as the windows to the indoor were being replaced, with sawing and hammering and ladder-moving; she didn’t flick an ear! So proud 🙂

Anyway, the ride was absolutely amazing, a few adjustments were needed in the tack, but they held up pretty well. I can;t wait to ride again, and I can’t wait for NEDA Fall!!

So Far This Year….

First of all, welcome to my website! I am starting halfway through the 2014 show season, so I’ll give a (hopefully) brief summary of what has happened thus far….

We started off at the June GMHA show in Vermont, where DeJure and I made a big first impression! On Friday, we decided to take it easy and school, since it was our first show together and her first show in four years! She was very excited to show off…

On Saturday, we had two very exciting rides, coming in first for both Training Level Test 1 and 3, earning us our first qualifying score! To top off the day, we received Reserve Junior Training Level Highpoint of the Day…

We had an amazing ride on Sunday, exceeding all expectations, and receiving not only first place in Training Level Test 3 but also Training Level Junior Highpoint of the Day and of the show!!!! After our triumphs, we decided to scratch our second class and go on a lovely hack around the cross-country fields; a wonderful ending to a fantastic weekend!!!

Next, we went off to King Oak, where we pretty much had the same results, minus the Highpoint ribbons (they don’t offer them there 😦  ) Although it was a very interesting experience watching the upper-level riders in Ring 1!

After that, we got some time off the trailer to have a wonderful home clinic with Susan Jaccoma. We sure had lots of fun working on that darn stretchy trot circle!

Most recently, we have returned from GMHA July, where the competition was much tougher!! On Friday we had one of the most interestin tests yet, complete with one tempis down the track and piaffing at X… we landed with a 64% and a pretty pink ribbon.

At a very late 5:30 ride, both DJ and I rode in our first Dressage Equitation class! It was definitely lots of fun to get feedback directly from the judge… and I think DJ liked introducing herself more formally to the judge beforehand!

On Sunday, DJ and I had one of our best tests so far; everyone was pleased at how much we had accomplished over a period of 5 months! We finished the weekend strongly with yet another blue, as well as Training Level Junior Highpoint of the Day! I was (and am) very proud of DJ and I can not wait for the next show!!!!

So that pretty much sums up the summer so far! Today we are headed off to the 1st Annual Dressage Dreams overnight clinic at Bearspot Farms, which I will be writing about afterwards!!