Better, right?

I did my best to follow the advice in the comments on my last picture post. I dropped my stirrups one hole and I could tell an immediate difference in being able to get my leg underneath me. One commenter (Green Slobber) advised me to forget about his head being up in the air and to instead concentrate on relaxing and having a proper position. She said the head would take care of itself eventually. She is exactly right. Everything I’ve read about dressage (and there’s been quite a bit recently) says the same thing- ride your horse from back to front! Don’t worry about forcing his head down; just ride balanced and relaxed and as you relax, your horse will loosen up and drop his head.

I think sometimes I make riding harder than it is. I fell into the trap of thinking that I could find some secret formula for a round horse and a pretty headset. I thought if I could just afford the “right” trainer, an indoor arena, or a fancy German saddle, then my horse and my riding would improve. The truth is, good riding comes from a lot of hard work. All those extras are helpful, but at the end of the day all of that is superfluous to the harsh reality that my riding will improve with lots of practice. And more practice. And then a little more practice. There are no shortcuts. It’s a good thing I’m a firm believer in good old fashioned hard work! 

Here are the pictures of our last ride with my stirrups dropped one hole. I concentrated on my leg position and posting lightly to make sure I wasn’t flopping down on his back. I also rode on a loose rein to make sure I wasn’t balancing against his mouth. I think we had a waaaaaay better ride. I got some beautiful pictures and, even though my position wasn’t perfect,  he was definitely more relaxed and it shows in the photos.

Quick note about the video. There’s one part where I stand up in the stirrups to try and find my balance point. It was harder than I expected. I used to surf so I was used to standing up and balancing on a moving object. I was surprised I had so much trouble standing in the stirrups.

My favorite picture- he looks like a show horse!


Correct diagonal!

And the video, if you’re bored…


6 thoughts on “Better, right?

  1. Rebecca January 28, 2011 / 10:30 pm

    IMO, you look much better! Good job 🙂

  2. Amy January 31, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    Looking better. I am glad you are making it so important to learn to ride well and correctly for yours and your horses sake. That to me is THE most important thing. If you are eagar, willing and wanting to learn then that is all you need. It may take a while and it may not but as long as you are sincerely seeking to be better than you will get better. So I commend you for that. I am going to offer my opinion/help and of course you can take it or leave it but I am sure that is why you are doing this to get help so I will do my best.

    First I understand you wanting to make sure you are not balancing with your hands BUT you went too extreme. It looks to me that Baron is searching for some guidance then entire ride and seems confused as to what you are wanting from him. Yes you should work on not balancing with your hands becaue God knows I need to also but do not sacrifice consistent contact to try to correct it. He needs consistent contact in the mouth along with consistent pressure from the leg. I saw him breaking to a walk alot and I don’t know if this is a usual problem but from what I can tell it seems that with no contact from the bit that he just doesn’t know that you are wanting him to go forward. It may seem backwards but even contact at the bit + even pressure from your leg = better forward motion. You may think pressure with your hands would actually make him stop more but that is not the case. If you are asking his momentum to go forward you need somewhere for that momentum to be brought into himself. Make sense? So I just think you may be over correcting a problem and creating another which I know can be extremely frustrating but don’t worry it will eventually click. The balancing with the hands will be better corrected by improving your position and better fitness.

    About your balancing issue, I commented on this the last time but it is something that seems to be glaring at me the entire time I watch your video. It think because I too have struggled with the same problem. And because the difference that fixing that one thing changed SO much for my riding. The difference that it made was night and day. It is those legs of yours 🙂 Bring back your feet!! It is THE reason you cannot balance in a 3 point. Shoulders-hips-heels! Line them up and wrap those legs around his barrel giving constant contact with your leg. You can increase/decrease the amount of pressure but constant but maintain contact. It will feel weird for a while and you will need to make new muscule memeory but it will help your riding all around.

  3. Amy February 1, 2011 / 8:16 pm

    I see you didn’t publish my comment. I hope you didn’t find anything I said offensive. If so I am sooo sorry. I was really just trying to help :(. Again if I offended I am so sorry. I really struggle with the same exact things that you are and am in a very similar situation. Trying to retrain an OTTB for the first time on a low budget. I hope I didn’t offend.

    • trainingbaron February 1, 2011 / 8:48 pm

      I thought I did publish it! Will fix that immediately!!!

      • Amy February 2, 2011 / 1:00 am

        Oh ok good I am glad it wasn’t something I said I would feel awful.

  4. Jenn February 7, 2011 / 10:01 pm

    Ahh…Baron looks quite a bit more relaxed, especially in the first photo. It will come…it takes time and LOTS of work! If riding were easy, everyone would do it!
    It looks like you are still riding the cantle of your saddle..scootch the tush forward…think about bringing your hips forward towards his ears when you post…you can’t ride the cantle if you are posting with forward motion.

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