I'm in a lesson with Riley, and we're struggling with one of the "big issues" for both riders & horses. Crookedness.
Ri needs to be straight and balanced before he will really go forward. He'll lumber around on his shoulder all day, hind legs trailing, if he's crooked.
In fact, that is what he's doing now, in this lesson. My trainer Kristin Corcoran of Graystone Equestrian Center is coaching me as we turn on the short side of the ring, energy evaporating. She is telling me to shift my weight to the outside, to release the inside rein, to use more inside leg and stabilize my outside rein. I'm not feeling it today. Tired and frustrated, and I'm tensing up and feel Riley (who had started out willing enough) starting to shut down.
Kristin "calls time" and walks toward us. Not a good sign. This usually means we'll have a "back to basics" moment. While I know I need it, and Kristin is the soul of tact, my ego takes one on the chin. Oh well. At least there is no one else in the ring to witness my remedial work.
We're at the halfway point in the lesson, and Kristin has already outlined the path to improving our trotwork.
- Put weight into my outside stirrup (I'm leaning with my upper body to the inside).
- Center my hips over the saddle (my hips are uneven and not centered over the saddle).
- Turn my upper body more to the ouside (my upper body is turned too far to the inside).
- Widen my outside rein (don't cross it over his neck). This is a bad habit when Riley is poking his outside shoulder and falling to the outside.
- Relax my hip joints and "get closer to the saddle." I'm struggling to get him more forward, tensing my hips in the process.
- Most importantly, give with my hands. As Riley gets slower and loads his shoulder more, I try to fix it all with my hands.
Stay tuned for part II