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Lisa's Blog post # 32
“I thought I had fixed that!” Today Lesley put Cotton and me to work on our canter – the last obstacle to overcome before we’re ready to do stadium courses (I hope). Right away she got on to me about my posture! I thought I was lifting my chest. I thought my shoulders were back. I thought I looked pretty good… I thought wrong!
It’s amazing how good I look in my imagination. I really need to pay people to come film me when I ride because they certainly aren’t going to do it just for kicks! And if I saw how horrible I actually looked my vanity would click in and I would be more determined than ever to fix the eyesore.
Anyway, Lesley had me put a pretend whip behind my back and ride with my chest lifted, my elbows exaggeratedly behind my sides and my head on top of my shoulders instead of sticking out like a turkey. Oh – so that’s how my posture is supposed to be…oops, I hadn’t fixed it after all.
After having me trot around like that a little while she had me go back to “normal” – normal correct, not normal incorrect – and pick up the canter. I could tell a gigantic difference in Cotton as he responded to my uprightness. She also corrected my leaning into the canter aid – an old hunter thing I have yet to abandon completely. Cotton likes it better when I just sit there and ask. His departures are crisp and flowing. His canter begins with quality instead of my having to try to fix the quality after he’s already cantering.
Because his tendency is to get heavy, long and strung out in the canter we only went for a handful of strides before transitioning back to trot. We will eventually work him into being able to carry himself all the way around a course without leaning on me or rushing off – just like he’s learned to do at trot. His other tendency is to mistake any leg contact while he’s in the canter as an aid for speed so I am concentrating on wrapping my leg around him during the transition like I’m giving him a hug and keeping my arms elastic.
All the more recent work I’ve done on him at the canter has been in 2-point until now and I realize that I need to learn how to hug him with my legs while I’m off his back just like I did today while in a light seat. My problem is that I want to lift my heel to put it on him rather than turn my toe out and get my calf on him. My feet naturally fall well away from his side when I’m in 2-point so I have to make, what feels like, a big move to get my leg on him – and then I feel like my knees are too loose!
My last ride had a barrel the size of a steel drum so 1) my legs were kind of maxed out and naturally hugged him all the time which meant 2) my knee wasn’t going anywhere – once I nestled into his saddle we were pretty cozy! Cotton is like a broomstick compared to him and I’m still feeling a little insecure with his petiteness. Lesley is going to help me get over that though!
So, even though I have not fixed my posture to the degree I had imagined, I have seen so much improvement across the board that I am just thrilled – and amazed! We've accomplished so much in must a few months!
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