Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jelly Legs

I spent this week practicing my two point and then not being able to walk up and down stairs properly.  Hmmm.  Something isn't right there.  The good news about having my knee get all tweaked and being in pain, was that it gave us something to look at when I showed up for last night's lesson.

Laura came over and looked at my leg position.  Now that I'm not shoving with my seat, I have graduated to gripping with my legs!  She put her hand between my leg and the horse and told me to relax.  Nothing happened.  Still too much pressure.  We tried again.  I am strung tight as a bow and couldn't get my legs to relax.  So we went for dramatic difference.

I rode my entire lesson focusing on keeping my knees and legs entirely off the saddle.  I put all my weight into my stirrup irons and rode two point that way.  I tried to point my knees out like a frog.  It's a scary position to be in when you're not quite sure if you trust your horse or your riding.  It's a drastic difference from the clamped down riding I've been doing.

In one lap of the arena with my legs open, Tessa was moving better.  We then worked on asking her to go forward without clamping down right after.  Yes, we always knew it was me but FINALLY we're starting to actually make headway.  I would ask for forward and then clamp my whole body down in preparation for it, which effectively told Tessa to stop going forward.  Mixed messages much?  Sorry pony!  She's actually been a pretty good sport considering that I've been told to tap her to get her to go forward.  Kicking a leg out because I'm saying Go! Stop! Go! Stop! is actually a pretty nice way of saying "WTF are you doing up there mom?".

I actually had to jump this way too, which was also a little scary.  But we're sticking with nice little cross rails and courses of cross rails so we can work on these basics.  And by the end of my lesson we had good flow and a forward trot and canter.

My legs were like jelly when I got off which is also a sign that I'm actually using the right muscles.  I'm really looking forward to working on this and seeing what happens.  Keeping my fingers crossed that this is the missing puzzle piece that I've wanted to find.


  1. Great stuff and good for you for listening to your pony! You're actually more likely to be able to stay on if she makes a sudden move if you're relaxed than if you're tight - being tight tends to pop you up and makes it harder to stay with the horse.

  2. My trainer insists that the "grippy knee" thing is, in fact, the universal cue to stop. This is how we ask for downward transitions and halts, as well as a clear "Cease and Desist!" when a horse is being naughty. The rest of the time, the knee should be ever-so-slightly loose to allow the horses body somewhere to go (forward between your legs). It's a huge change from the hand-ridden brakes I've known all of my life, but it has been very effective!
    FYI - we are still very much working on my "loosening of the knee" over fences!

  3. I was thinking of two point after reading your last post. Aren't our horses so gracious putting up with our mixed messages?! My guy is more the type who will slow to a crawl when I ask to go forward + tell to stop, rather than run off, but he's still responding to conflicting info...

    Sounds like a very productive lesson!

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