Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Magic Feather

Remember Dumbo and how he couldn't fly without his magic feather?  I may have a new magic feather.  Except it's not a feather....it's a towel.  Damn you blogger for not letting me upload more pictures (not that I took any, but this is exactly the sort of thing you need pictures for,right?).

One of the things I like about my trainers is they are always willing to try new things.  They don't get stuck in saying the same things over and over again.  Shoulders Back.  Heels down.  Use your core.  I'm sure we've all heard those things and at some point, it stops mattering.  Now matter how many times you yell "Shoulders back!" at me, I'm going to hunch them back up to my ears whenever I do something.  Remember me, Arms of Steel?

Well, last night was more of the same.  She asked for an opening rein and I pulled my shoulders up to my ears, pointed my elbow in to the center of the arena, flipped my wrist upside down and brought my hand up to my waist.  All while maintaining at least 100 pounds of pressure on my arm.  This did not go over well with my horse, my trainer or my injured arm.

So she calls me over to her chair by the side of the arena and hands me a towel.

"Put each end under your armpit and hold it there."

I tried to muscle it there, hunching my shoulders, but it moved my arms too much and the towel drooped.  I tried using arms of steel to hold it there.  I was too rigid and the towel drooped.  I tried to open my rein with my elbow away from my body and my towel drooped.  Finally, I relaxed my shoulders and used the muscles behind them to hold the towel in place.  This left my forearms relaxed and supple.  Instantly, Tessa dropped her head into the contact.

We still had our crap moments, but I could no longer react with flailing elbows and rigid arms.  So our crap moments were less crappy and were over quicker.  Turning her to the inside while I pushed her off my leg actually started to work.

There was even a scary moment where she spooked and bolted.  I had my towel under my armpits and she spun a 360 and took off galloping. She didn't pull up immediately and I didn't want to lose my towel and spook her further.  So I just sat deep and called out "Runaway Pony!".  But before everyone could stop to gawk at the girl with a towel under her armpits on a runaway pony, I had her under control and right back into a forward trot with contact.

Our canter was equally amazing.  Again, I was unable to move my arms into rigid pistons and I couldn't contort my body without losing my towel.  Our contact was unbelievable and steady.

Now, I just need to petition the USDF to allow me to show with my towel......


  1. No bracing . . . no bracing by the horse - works like magic! Now you need to have "towel thought" to replace the towel itself . . .

  2. A good instructor....she used something that worked to get the point through to you exactly. That is fabulous!

  3. Love how your trainer used this 'tool'! Awesome lesson and progress!

  4. hmmm... Awesome idea! (rushing out to get a towel for the barn) wait ... what kind of towel? Hand towel, standard bath towel, or body sheet size towel ?

    1. The towel is an excellent idea! I had a trainer who made me ride holding the ends of a polo wrap that passed behind my lower back to remind me to keep my arms back and post with my hips going forward instead of up and down hunter style.

  5. Jeni- It was a standard bath towel. The only downside was you had to watch the ends to make sure they weren't tickling your horse.