Friday, February 4, 2011

Straight on Circles

I had taken an interest in the book, Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse when fellow blogger, in2paints made a post about the book she had purchased on her blog, R Lil Bit of Cash. Interested, I followed the link, and took a peek inside the book, not really expecting anything. But as I got to reading, I discovered that I was really liking what my eyes were presenting to me, and was actually learning a fair amount as well. I scrolled to the end where it shows some of the difference excersises and how you can apply them to a personal fitness routine for your horse. I thought that the book definitely would be worth the $13.98, and I placed an order for one myself.

But even what I had read online had gotten me thinking. I have been much more interested about learning more about a symmetrical horse, and how I can work with Milo to help with weaker side. I learned a valuable lesson from the one read so far, and that is to not over work the weaker side to try and compensate for it's deficiencies. This only fatigues the weaker side, but doesnt build strength. Insead, it suggested flexing the muscles themselves. For instance, Milo is stronger and bulges out to his left side. When traveling on what should be a straight line, the larger side extends, and his weaker side contracts, and I am always working on bending him around my inside leg. I was formerly trying to work him a lot on that side, trying to loosen it up. I should be tracking that direction, but not focusing so much on that side, but rather have him working the weaker, or outside side. Does this make sense?

So when riding Milo last night I was focusing on quite a few things. I was trying to maintain a correct body position (which I now only need to remind myself of about every minute, not every ten seconds!), and work Milo straightly. Its hard to describe in words, Ive always been much better on just visualizing it in my head and feeling what it is, so forgive me if my explaination is hard to follow,  or doesnt make any sense at all.

Tracking Milo to the left, I have more on my outside rein to support him. Milo naturally would want to bulge himself into the inside, not round up towards the outside. So holding with my outside rein, I would bump lightly with the inside rein and hold with my inside leg to encourage him to wrap himself around that leg. He was starting to do really well about fifteen minutes into our work (all at a walk still). Then I would try and maintain his shoulder control by stepping outside of the circle, but maintaining the inside arc. When Milo would do it correctly, he would have a beautifully lifted left shoulder( (not becoming the outside shoulder) and track around to the right.

Once loosened up, I walked him into a circle on the right track. Now this would normally be "easy" for Milo to appear bent to the inside as he would bulge himself to the left outside. But Milo needed to maintain straightness through his body, while even on the circle, to build up muscle on the inside and quit bulging to the outside. So I would hold with my outside rein as usual for support, but bump that same side when he would bulge out, causing him to lift up into straightness and travel around the circle correctly. It was great how straight Milo was working now, just through some conscious effort on my part. I let him walk out for a few strides for a reward, then uped the anti to a straight circle (doesnt that sound contradictory? LOL) then move out onto the inside track of the ring, then back into a circle. It was great work.

Moving into the jog, Milo did just as well as he was working at the walk. And I was making emphasis to use my leg for speed or direction, and only my spur for lift. There was some confusion (by both parties - me reverting back to old ways) at first, but by the end Milo was starting to get the feel for it.

We finally (correction, I finally) started working on our downward transitions through my seat and really trying to release my lower back for a rolled hip stop. Milo was sensitive to my weight changes and stopped hollow the first few tries. But my back wasnt soft, just sitting harder. I really tried to focus on my lower back and have independancy from the rest of my back. Finally, I was starting to touch on some better control over it and we were getting some nicer stops.

By about five minutes more of try, I finally was able to roll my seat and Milo executed a beautiful lifted stop and went directly into a back. I slid off his back almost before his feet stopped moving. That was what I was wanting to end on. Good Milo. Good Mom too, for finally getting some body control!

So Im excited to get the book and start reading it, learning more about the muscular structure of the horse and how they all work together and independantly, and how to develop a sound "program" for my horse. I will definitely be giving a review once I complete the book.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff - do let us know how the book is when you get it.

Rising Rainbow said...

It will be interesting to see the response in Milo's muscle to this way of working. Good job.

Story said...

This sounds like a really good book. Dee is much stronger on her left side than her right side and I've been finding it very challenging to get the right side caught up.

in2paints said...

I'm enjoying the book so far! There are only a few chaperts about why and how, and the rest of the book has exercises to help. You can build your own program with the exercises the author presents, or use one of hers. I'm still going over the exercises trying to choose the best ones for my mare at this point in her recovery, but it's a great book with some great ideas.

I'm very excited that you'll also have the book!