Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Tell Tale Sweat Marks

I enjoyed a couple of nice rides the last few days. Thursday, Milo worked wonderfully and I didnt feel so lost in my seat. Granted, I had to make an effort to find the left seat bone, I used lots of torso twists and stretches to help find it, but not lock place with it. We had a very nice ride and he was working so well, I decided to throw in a little lead change work. Which he took to very well. The counter canter needs some work again (same sort of issues I was having on Wesley on Monday) but he pretty easily changed leads to the left. Then we worked for the other direction, which was much more difficult. Changing to the right requires that I really get that left seat bone down and back a bit, and although he changed (a few strides after initially asking for it) I knew it was sloppy because I had a hard time finding the seat bone. 

When I untacked him, I was pleased to find a beautiful sweat mark on the left side, but a dry spot on the right. This indicated to me that he still wasnt lifting up on the right side, most likely due to a heavier seat bone on that side. I still need to find balance between the two. And although the bareback riding helped show me what needed working on, it was very difficult for me to work on centering my seat bones without any support from a saddle. I know, it probably just means I have to go back to bareback riding more and build the strength I had over the winter. Sigh. I was so proud of my bareback seat too! Then the ease of a saddle allowed it to slip away...

Yesterday Heather and her horse Missy joined Milo and I for a trail ride. We hadnt been out since our accident, but I was looking forward to it, not sure what Milo might have retained from the last time out, however. There was a balk and some backing at the scary unseen dog behind the fence, which required some coaxing to get past, but no huge terrible spook like we had experienced there before. 

Heather and I "played leapfrog" throughout the ride, allowing Milo to be in front for a while, then switching for Missy to be in the front, and changing again. It was good for both horses who both would like to be in the front. We got a lot of nice trotting work done over long lengths. Our first trot, while being in the back, I really got to focus on my seat and Milo was able to concentrate on working rather than looking ahead down the trail. I allowed my ankles to relax and still maintain a light seat, which instantly made my core engage. I even threw in a little snaking along the trail to get him to follow his nose and come up over his back. The trot work was good and I knew the somewhat uneven terrain was a bonus in the workout as well. 

We approached some bikers, which neither horse cared about, and after getting onto another side trail (not the logging roads) Milo got to be in the front again and we trotted for a while again. A little more distracted by looking ahead, but Milo still worked well with just a few more reminders to stay over his back. This trail naturally created some snake exercise and it was a good time again.

There was a short stretch uphill for a lope, so I put Milo into it but the left seat bone was lacking again and he broke to a quick trot, and picked up the other lead when I asked him again. I had to correct that, and halfway up the hill firmly remind him to pay attention to me and lift his back but at the end we got a few nice strides. A really bad transition to the trot so we had to work on that some more, but eventually I got good downward transitions as well. We walked for the majority of the way back home, and enjoyed chatting all throughout. Milo had no sweat on his neck or behind his ears, which was a good sign that he wasnt nervous or anxious. I had to comment saying this was probably the most consistently quiet and working Milo had been on the trail before. 

We got back and I stripped off the saddle. Even sweat marks on both sides! Now that is an accomplishment to have lift while on the trail. I mustve had a bit of a lighter right seat bone as well. I think the long stretches of trail allows me to get better in tune with my body than worrying about a turn coming up or avoiding another horse. Lets just find a way to translate those long nice trot stretches into the arena. 

No comments: