Poetry Month: The Man from Snowy River

Amanda kindly pointed out that it’s poetry month, and suggested we share our favourite poem about a horse, or one that brings us joy. As an Australian I’d be utterly remiss to skip this poem. But more importantly, I LOVE this piece. It always gives me chills.

The Man From Snowy River
A.B. “Banjo” Paterson

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

a few more biomechanical snippets

There are still a few things I learned at Mary that I didn’t fit into a bigger post, but were still worth remembering. As if I don’t wish I could remember all of it.

the pelvis as a bowl

I had my pelvis-bowl completely incorrectly oriented. I’ve heard several times that the pelvis is a bowl, and in your neutral pelvis your bowl should be perfectly upright — no spillage of your chilli, gin and tonic, guts, or whatsoever else it pleases you to fill your pelvic bowl with.

I had always envisioned the bowl in the pelvis to be following the angle of the pelvis bones — a bit like I’ve shown in the image below.

And as you can see — with your pelvis like this, precious rice is falling out of the bowl!

To combat that and keep the bowl “upright” I tilted my pelvis back. Resulting in my riding on my ischial tuberosity, or where my ischial callosities would be were I an Old World Monkey. Turns out I had this all wrong. 

This is a great way to shrink your underneath, in case you’re wondering.

Instead, I had to reorient how I thought of the bowl inside the pelvis. The bowl sits upright in the neutral pelvis, even if that means that the sides of the bowl don’t nestle up against the angles of the pelvis quite perfectly.

This gives you a much bigger place to sit in the saddle, since you’re not trying to cram all of your weight back between your seat bones and your tail bone.

I’m still not great at feeling when my pelvis is neutral, but at least I’m not constantly trying to tilt it crazily backwards now!

resistance bands

During our neutral spine and realignments lab, I sat in the EQ Saddle Science saddle that we had out and Kate realigned me on the saddle. One of the experienced biomechanics instructors, Agi, was helping her with the more nuanced aspects of the realignment and exercise. After realigning me in the saddle, Agi grabbed some thin rubber resistance bands and popped them on my torso to test my strength in different parts of my torso.

Knowing how my middle is filled with a layer of shifting bullshit sand, I expected the resistances to just reveal how utterly, terribly weak I was in my upper body. Agi put the first band right under my arms but above my boobs and gentle pulled back, and astonishingly I actually managed to stay quite steady. I also felt my seatbones, especially my left one, go *thunk* into the saddle. When she moved the resistance band below my boobs on my ribs, I struggled not to bend in the middle. When she put the band just below my waistband I could hardly resist the pull at all.


a cute bay horse to break up all these words

Agi said that I should be able to generate and maintain the tone in my torso that I felt with the first resistance band all the time. ALL THE TIME?!?! I’m honestly not even sure I could turn all those muscles on if I wanted to, let alone without having someone pull on me to generate that pressure. I need to figure a way back to that feeling so I can start practicing it more!

physical therapy

During our second day’s rides, the workshop participants were paying special attention to my torso and asymmetry during the rising trot. Mary had me turn down the center away from the students a few times. People had already commented that I can slosh my hips to the left much better than I can to the right in the walk, and in the trot there was some interesting “hmmm, what could be going on here?” discussion of my torso. Anne, workshop host and physical therapist extraordinaire, suggested that people pay close attention to what part of my torso wasn’t moving, instead of what was.

What Anne was seeing was that there was a very still part of my torso right below my right ribs, and it was like the rest of my body was rotating and tilting around that still section. Which was a funny way to describe it, but I’ve often felt that my right hip falls away from me dorsally as much as my right shoulder slips away from me ventrally.

the wildest lean

Anne offered to do some quick and dirty physical therapy on me to see if we could even me out in the saddle afterward. So Flounder and I stepped to the side and Anne poked around my midsection for a bit. I’ve never had physical therapy done, but other than Murray-induced injuries, I’ve never really managed to hurt myself all that badly. (knock on wood!) Anne put pressure on a dorsal and ventral point right under my ribs and explained that she thought I had something like little “spot welds” in my torso that were restricting my movement, potentially from a cranial nerve injury in the past (but it’s unclear). She was going to release the pressure very quickly after a minute or two of holding it there to shock my system into letting go of the welds. While Anne was talking and holding pressure on my body I could feel my right shoulder blade settling downward, and felt a bit of a general “sinking” in the right side of my body. After she release the pressure quickly it was like all my guts were reorganizing themselves down and more into my pelvis.

It was totally weird and totally more woo-woo than I usually prescribe to. But I can’t deny that it felt very interesting. Anne held on to another pressure point for a bit and then dropped it, and I felt that sinking feeling again, though less intensely.

I got back to riding to many ooohs and aaaahs from the workshop attendees. I felt very even. And, importantly, like I didn’t have to think about twisting gently to the right, which I have to think about pretty much all the time anyway. Megan said that she suddenly noticed my right shoulderblade. Like she always knew I had one, but it wasn’t until that moment that she realized how solid and present it could be. I could also feel the muscle going up into my neck on the right side in a way I’d never quite felt it before — not painfully, but present-fully, if that makes sense.

It definitely made me want to pursue some more PT with someone of Anne’s caliber and training. Though it will probably get pushed to the backburner with the craziness of my year coming up.

canter Vs


need more back and down!

When we worked on the canter mechanic, I told Mary that it was really huge for me to learn that I could use the knee blocks of the saddle to help get me back and down into the saddle. She interrupted me and suggested that instead I think about the shape of the canter mechanic to be changing the V made by my legs and seat bone in the canter. The V should get longer and skinner in the back-and-down as my seatbones slide over my skin.

Since I’ve been thinking about the mechanic that way, I’ve had much better luck staying in the saddle — and when you stay in the saddle you really can influence the canter much more.

 

(re)learning how to canter

A special focus on the canter mechanic was one of the selling points of this year’s workshop for me. I mean, I was going regardless, but it was timely. I know my canter mechanic needs work, so getting to workshop it was extra exciting. (The other feature of this year’s workshop, polyvagal theory, was a major hidden gem.)

baseline canter mechanic. lots to like in Murray, but several bad patterns
here, the worst of which is flapping my torso around like one of those air
wobbler creatures — you just can’t see it in the still. also my left thigh is the worst.

I’ve been adding puzzle pieces to my understanding of the canter mechanic for a couple of years now. Megan first introduced me to a new mechanic by telling me to think of grabbing the saddle in the “down” beat of the canter and pulling it back up with my thighs, to decrease the accent of the down beat and increase the air time in the canter. Lots of people try to half-halt in the down beat because that’s when you naturally have a bunch of weight in the reins and it’s the beat that feels the most downhill. But leaning back and pulling on your horse when they can’t do anything about it actually — surprise surprise — isn’t that effective.

I added another puzzle piece with Mary’s video about the canter mechanic through Dressage Training TV. There, they accentuate the hip tuck on the hind leg (beat one). In the video (you can see this in the free preview I think), Mary says “weight the back leg, weight the back leg,” with the words “back leg” falling on beat one. When Megan assigned me homework of pushing Murray out of the ground for most of a circle and then half halting him back to a more controlled canter I would say to me self, “on the back leg, on the back leg” to remind myself of how I wanted that weight to fall. (And when I was pushing him out I would say “over the ground, over the ground, over the ground,” and probably push him back onto the forehand, oh well. I talk to myself a lot when I ride, apparently.)

my not-particularly-effective mechanic on Atlas after the clinic (click to embiggen)
specifically note how far back I get in his moment of suspension – I should be folding in that moment

This year, we discussed the canter mechanic extensively after my first demo ride. During that first ride the clinic host, Anne, filmed me cantering in a circle on Floundy. Now, I know I’ve shit talked Floundy a fair bit here, but he really does have a tremendous canter (double entendre intended*), and Kate really has done a lovely job of training him to go on the bit if you just have the right rein length and some bear down. Horse will fucking tell on you if you’re a twiddler or aren’t really bearing down, though. I’m also starting in not the worst place, in terms of my mechanic. Mary commented that my mechanic wasn’t bad in my first day’s canter. I responded that this isn’t really how I canter at home (it wasn’t — Flounder has a nice canter). Mary asked what was I better at, trot or canter? I had to think for a moment, but I said canter. What did I liked more, trot or canter? Canter. Mary’s point: the rider usually prefers the gait they are good at.

* One mnemonic device Mary uses to help people understand different canter balances is the words “Canada,” “Mozambique,” and “tremendous”. Say each words (in your head or aloud) and hear which syllable is accentuated. A “Canada” canter is most desirable, as the most emphasis is on the first beat (beat one/outside hind). A “Mozambique” canter is much more common, probably the most common, and very not desirable: the emphasis is on the last beat (beat three/inside front). A “tremendous” canter is pretty good, and certainly not terrible. The emphasis is on the middle beat (beat two, diagonal pair). You can do something with any of these canters, and you can definitely watch a horse go from Canada to Mozambique depending on the biomechanics. Harder to go the other way, though!


a surefire way to make a Mozambique canter — way too much extension pattern

In our canter mechanic discussion, Mary brought up the fact that the canter mechanic isn’t just “back” on beat one (the back leg), it’s down. And I was like “down? What? Down where?” Anne said that it took her so long to understand this idea that she literally had to use the visual of falling backwards into an inner tube to get it. I prefer the image of sitting on a fence where your knees are holding you on to the rail and your butt is falling back behind you, because there is an element of “knees up” to this mechanic.

And the final piece of the puzzle came together for me when I had Kate realign me for practice on a saddle stand, with Agi looking on. My struggle with my left seatbone had already been revealed at that point, and after Kate got me lined up and neutral, Agi grabbed a resistance band to show Kate and Megan some resistances. She looped the elastic under my armpits but above my boobs and gently pulled back. I resisted, and as I did my knees came up slightly as my thighs pulled me down into the saddle. Agi then said some stuff about how I should feel like that all the time and how I should be able to replicate the feeling without the resistance band but that’s clearly UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE, the laws of physics say so. (The laws of physics say no such thing, Agi is correct, I need to work harder and smarter.)


pleasantly surprised with my alignment here
should probably be preparing for the back and down at this point though.

Finally, in our third demo ride, we dug into the canter a bit. Mary gave me three things to think about: 1) the carousel pole behind my spine, that my torso is moving up and down on, 2) back on the hind, 3) down on the hind. So we got to cantering around and Mary would layer on the commands. “Carousel pole,” she would yell. After I had that for a few strides she’d add in, “back! back! back!” on the hind leg. And finally “up down, up down, up down” in the rhythm of the second and first beats of the canter respectively. I only got it twice, and it took multiple got-it-lost-its of the first two instructions before I could even get to “down”. But the second time I got it, Flounder’s canter utterly transformed. Not only did I feel like I was finally sitting with every single moment of the canter, but it felt he was one of those hippity-hoppity ball things, but giant, and we were bouncing along the ground.

I haven’t been able to replicate the canter mechanic at home yet, though fortunately Fergus has a very easy canter. Partially I’ve been trying not to sit down into him too much — he either stops or gets tense and zips away if you fall into the man trap, so I have to be careful — and partially I’ve not quite gotten the timing on my own without Mary yelling at me. But it’s very exciting to have a moment of knowing that feeling, and yet another solid pathway of how to get there.


unrelated, but this pony asked for a flaming hot cheeto (twice) so i fed them to her

new found glory

The first time I laid eyes on Fergus I was a little taken aback by the funny little face on this funny little horse coming up to me in the wash rack. This little bay thing had the flattest face I’d ever seen on a horse, but without the refinement that lends elegance to other horses. With his eyes slightly bugged out sideways and a little whale-eye showing, he had a vaguely Anuran look to him. Which is absolutely not to say I didn’t think he was cute — I thought he was adorable! But not, perhaps, handsome.

Fergus is a 13-year-old 15.2 (or 3? or 1?)-ish appendix (TB x paint technically, but all of those paint horses have QH parents). He was picked up by TrJ in Kentucky some years ago when she was there for Rolex. She has a knack for picking up very neat horses — though in reality I think that knack is knowing a lot of people and knowing exactly what she will and won’t compromise on in a horse. When he came home he was slated for one rider, but that didn’t quite work out, and then got passed around like the town barn bicycle for a while: teaching a lesson here, pitching in at a show there, generally being a good guy.


both my boys together – Samwell and Fergus

In late 2018, Fergus sold to someone within the barn who was looking to transition from fun, non-serious riding to still fun, slightly more serious competing in lower level eventing. And that’s when I started to get really familiar with Fergus, because he showed up in the BN jump group with his owner, A, from week to week to week. He was always a good boy; I don’t think I saw him quit on a fence once. But he was prone to getting a little bunchy and zippy, and ducking behind the contact instead of pushing into it.

um that’s an interesting view….

When TrJ first suggested I give Fergus a try I was intrigued, but cautious. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on such a “project” in the contact, and I was still butthurt that I wouldn’t be getting in some 3′ miles with Harry. I’m so glad I was wrong.

I had a little tester lesson on Ferg before we made the lease official, and in that one ride I was totally smitten. He is a bit of a project in the contact, but TrJ was totally up front about it. We focused on getting Fergus to stretch down and lean into the bridle for much of our lesson. It’s not that he won’t go there, it’s just not his first choice.


I just really love this pole it tastes soooo gooooood

And his canter? It got me like woah. He stepped into it and I was all :heart_eyes_emoji: It’s such a smooth, easy stride. It feels so niiiiiiiice.

Ferg’s been happily cruising around BN for the last few years, stepping in when people needed a catch ride, but I don’t think there’s anything stopping him from running around a novice or two. In the last year A has become a good barn friend (another vet, surprise surprise — I have a type!), and she’s been so kind and accommodating about my desire to show. We’re working on a show schedule together so that she and I both get to go to the shows we want and Fergwyn doesn’t get tired out. (I mean there’s really not much of a risk of that since we’re both so busy.)


he’s the perfect size for me – and also, look! we can do trot poles!

Also, he’s so easy going. Sure, he has opinions. When we go into the arena he immediately knocks over TrJ’s “secret” cookie jar and insists on being rewarded for his cleverness. And yes, one day he riled up every single horse in his pasture in an attempt to avoid being caught. Okay, he also gets a bit tense under saddle — that’s something we can work on. But for the most part he takes a joke well, ground ties, and is a quiet, sensible creature. It’s lovely.

also, we canter! and i, apparently, look at the ground?

So that’s the Fergus. And yes, I’m already low-key planning to steal him and if A suddenly goes mysteriously missing you know it wasn’t me, even though I’d totally take home her two incredibly adorable little dogs as well as her horse. Oh and did I mention that he’s the PERFECT size for me? Oh and that he has a GREAT registered name? New Found Glory. It’s cute AF.

Yeah so for my future horse I need Fergus a small, well-schooled, fun, gelding who will take me on All The Adventures.


also I was wrong, he’s not a butterface at all he’s so fucking cute and he loves food

local blogger & reader conscription

wpid-wp-1447825079562.jpgLocal and not-so local bloggers, readers, and fans!  WE NEED YOU!!

The Woodland Stallion Station Horse Trials wants YOU to come out and help us run our event!  We are putting on Northern California’s only one-day event and it is going to be INCREDIBLE!

But to make it incredible, we need volunteers, and since bloggers and blog readers are among the most competent, capable people I know, I really really really really really want you to help.  Please.

 

Things I can offer you: food, a volunteer shirt, and tons of fun at the event.  Plus: a place to stay (with me), and time with these incredible creatures:

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IMG_20151230_113424Also puppies.  Yah we got more puppies. You can play with those too.

Comment or email me for details!  WE NEED YOU!

(email is confetti [dot] airplane [at] gmail [dot] com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NorCal OTTB

Remember a few months ago when I alluded to a nonprofit website I was working on?  Well, it’s finally done.  Finally.  Welcome to the world, NorCal OTTB!

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Of course, we also have a blog!

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I’ve been working on this in absolutely every moment of my spare time in the last few weeks (plus bits and pieces for months before that).  My brain is melting — and I didn’t even have to code it!  Thanks WebDesigner Mike.  You are my hero.

I’d love it if you’d head on over and check it out!

drinks, sunshine, house sitting

I’m house sitting at my trainers right now with no internet (hello, thesis!), but Murray’s there too so all is well.

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I had a prickly pear gin drink for valentines, it was delicious, along with pork belly, arancini, and scallops. Shared with my boyfriend, of course.

And Murray and I did hills. He was lazy, I had lobster hands. A good time was had by all.

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Have a lovely long weekend, friends!

Hawley Bennett Clinic: Day 1

As you may have seen from the preview on Sunday, this weekend I was lucky enough to attend a Hawley Bennett clinic hosted at my barn.  I was also dying of jealousy, as I decided quite a while ago not to ride in the clinic (because cash and credit cards are different things and car registration and insurance and thanks a lot adulthood), and as soon as I saw the course and saw the first group to go I knew that I wanted to ride with Hawley.  Luckily for us, I will get to ride with Hawley, as she comes back up to this area every month or so.

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Saturday dawned a bit drizzly and cloudy, but not too bad, unfortunately it was California’s first rainy weekend since Christmas.  Hawley started out all the groups with one of her favourite exercises: 4 jumps equidistant on a circle.  The course we had been sent the night before consisted of this circle (with a 20-stride circumference) at one end of the arena, a 6-stride to 2-stride combo down one long side and a 4-stride to 2-stride down the other, and a criss-crossing 4-stride and one-stride in the middle.  I’ve never seen so many standards in the arena.  I knew some of my friends would be pooping their pants, but I wanted to jump it sooooooooooo bad.

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The key to the first exercise was to ride a consistent canter.  Consistently, when horses made six strides in one quarter of the circle, the rider pushed and only made four in the next quadrant.  Instead, Hawley said, if you continue to hold and manage the quality of the canter, you can get five all around.  The striding on the circle wasn’t perfect, but Hawley just made one small adjustment and demanded that the riders “make it happen” for the rest of the imperfections.

Hawley always discussed with riders how they would ride into a line, what type of canter they would be trying to achieve, or how they would half-halt their horses.  Even though some people struggled to put into words something they more intuitively understood, I thought this was a fantastic strategy.  As you have probably guessed, words are important to me, and I think that being able to verbalize what you can just do with your body gives you a better understanding of it.  Maybe I’m wrong, who knows.

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As riders moved out to the other lines, Hawley always had them start and end their course on the circle exercise.  She put the jumps up from 6” verticals to 12” or 18” depending on the group’s experience level, to keep things easy but the horses thinking.  The really cool thing about this exercise was that it really forced riders to think about their pace before and after the course, and make adjustments immediately.  Hawley demanded precision from every rider, no matter what their group.  You couldn’t just ride the lines any old way, you had to do it Hawley’s way: straight, in the right number of strides, with good transitions and good turns.  If your horse came out of the circle a little collected and you were going to make seven in the six stride line, Hawley wanted you to feel that immediately and adjust accordingly.

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One thing I noticed is that Hawley didn’t pick on anybody’s equitation unless it was really impeding their riding, and her main comments remained the same from rider to rider: sit tall, shoulders back, follow your horse.  She didn’t want people going to their hands to half halt, she wanted everybody to be able to half halt with just their seat and legs, and she insisted that people keep leg on during the half halts, so as not to lose impulsion.  On both the circle exercise and the lines, it became clear that when riders dropped their legs off their horse’s sides, they were more likely to get some kind of weird spot or striding, which was kindof duh but caught a lot of riders out.  So when you need to add, keep your leg on so you’re committed, and if you need a bigger stride, also keep that leg on.

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One group was populated with riders who were struggling in some way with their horses, either through lack of confidence on behalf of the horse or rider, or simply inexperience.  The way Hawley handled them really proved her value and skill as an instructor.  She didn’t let them get away with anything, but upped the support and encouragement, and insisted that these riders get the technical aspects of the course (albeit lowered) done as well.  Hawley also spent time troubleshooting specifics of these riders problems, be it stopping, running out, rushing, or refusing to move forward, but all of these solutions came back to riding correct basics.  Instead of barreling down to a problem fence, Hawley had riders take a calm, collected canter or collected trot to the obstacle.  The horses could even stop if they wanted, what they couldn’t do was turn away, and in turn every horse jumped over any jump that was a problem.  If they chose to trot, it had to be a collected trot, not a disorganized, leg-flinging, rider-disobeying trot.  To help their horses out, Hawley made sure that the riders were following with soft, quiet hands, keeping their upper body in a position that didn’t block the shoulders or the back, and stayed with their horses.

IMG_1849Go baby, go!

Hawley also helped a rider whose horse was far, far too excited about getting to jump and insisted on doing things his way.  She had the rider flex and counter-flex her mount at the trot and canter until he relaxed, and only then could he head to the jumps.  The circle exercise was especially useful for this feisty guy, because he really couldn’t just bolt with those poles in the way, and was forced to regulate himself a bit more.

Nobody was exempt from Hawley’s precision and cutting commentary — even my trainer was challenged to ride better.  And the second day just got more exciting!  Look for day two in another post, as this one’s quite long already, but here are all my Hawley snippets from day one.

IMG_2042Hawley was convinced this horse was a 4* horse in his former life

Would that transition be good enough in dressage?

Keep your legs on and your reins short

Don’t barrel down to the last fences, you are so excited and think you’re doing well, but don’t forget the last fence

If she can buck she’s behind your leg

Bring your hip in over the jumps to help him get his lead

To collect sit up don’t go to your hands

Close the legs to get the deep spot

Land, put your legs on, rock them back

Don’t let your reins get long and your elbows behind you

The worse the footing is the more leg and connection you need

It’s good practice riding a tired horse

If your horse drifts left, put more left leg on, not just your lower leg but also you though. Drop your left hip bone and push him over

Don’t run your horse of his feet

Keep looking to the next

Take your time, you can’t fix it by running at it. Create the canter that’s forward but blazoned. If you run him to a dead distance he will slam on the brakes.

Bringing your hips in is especially important on these racehorses. If you swing your butt out your not going to get your lead.

Think of this as warm up, make him soft and round

Counter bend for softness

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all about that bert

Remember how I mildly derided OTTB Connect last week for being so repetitive?  They still are, but every once in a while an absolute gem pops up.

This video is well worth the three minutes!!

Bert is for lease to an intermediate or advanced rider outside of Pennington, NJ.  I found his ad through OTTB connect, and if you can’t access that page, you can probably find information from the original poster.

TOABH: Worth 1k Words

Worth 1k Words
Let’s share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.

I share pictures of my ponykins here a lot, but Beka has given me free rein to share more! MWAHAHAHAHA.

2012-6-1 2012-6Before he was mine

1463746_681994785174666_1547265509_nFirst XC together last November

Camelot Horse Trials -- but mostly tribulations!Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I’m never letting you put your head down again.

2014-07-10 12.17.26Miserable in his practice braids

IMG_7815IMG_7816IMG_7817IMG_7818
Mad hops

2014-11-13 09.38.59 2014-09-25 13.03.23
We got 1/16th of an inch of rain and I had too much fun…

IMG_8458Galloping fool

14627101506_4b0c8518f2_oNot happy, Jan

2014-07-12 10.05.32Sleepy after dressage

IMG_3924Bieber hair

IMG_20141115_134950 SAMSUNGBooty call

IMG_7843Trying to be fancy

IMG_9338One of those 10+ jumper moments….

2014-09-25 13.04.12Ummmm did you take a selfie on my phone?

2015-01-21 21.23.00Babushka