Meanwhile back at the ranch: I’m not keeping secrets. Rodney is in a holding pattern until he gets his shoes for the summer. Blacksmith scheduled today, Wednesday. Back to the show:
As you may recall, my disastrous performance at the last show led to a discussion of the difference between cantering a Saddlebred and galloping about with gay abandon looking for something, anything to jump [Dixie Cup]. At my next lesson, we talked about containment. I need to stuff all of my enthusiasm into a little box and slam the lid. While the subject under discussion was rider position, this extends to horse position as well. Containment of self leads to containment of horse.
The general principle is true across disciplines. Power comes from containment, whether one is jumping a double combination, executing an extended trot, or strutting a trot pass.
In specific, oh boy! In specific, the technique could not be more different between dressage and saddle seat. In the post Anatomy of Riding: the Hands, Dressage Different says, “It is the elasticity of our elbows and somewhat in our shoulders that allows for a giving hand.” I ran this by someone who rides more dressage than I. She agreed. She called them “bungee cord arms.” That’s what I’d always been taught. Wrists lie in line with the bit. Wrists DO NOT flop in and out like a gate on a hinge. Fingers give & take. Forearm moves back and forth to maintain a soft contact. A chugga, chugga motion like a railroad train now …
In saddle seat, as best I understand, the upper arms and forearms are drawn to the body. Wrists are flexed inwards (!!) at a slight angle. All motion comes from finger action and back-and-forth motion of the wrists (!!!). The first time I rode this way, my hands were so tired that they drooped at the end of my arms like empty mittens.
Of course, I suspect the truth lies in between. If we were to put sensors on a high-level saddle seat rider and a high-level dressage rider, we would find that the saddle seat rider has flexible elbows and that the dressage rider uses her wrists. However, for learning purposes, I am concentrating on the differences.
When people kept yipping at me to “Be Still”, I had been trying to fit the new information into my established body of knowledge. Turns out, not only was I in the wrong pew, I was in the wrong church on the wrong side of town. So, the goal for this show was to keep the lid on & move only my wrists.
Academy Showmanship WTC Adult, 3 of 6
I nailed it. I stayed inside my box. Okay, so I had no motivation from the horse. But, I did not revert to windmilling my arms and flapping my legs to create the missing activity. I kept my arms in, gritted my teeth, and rode the energy I had. My coach was so pleased at my demonstration of an ability to learn that she said the yellow was as good as a blue.
Academy Equitation WTC Adult, 2 of 6
Before the next class, I reached back into my past, channeled George [pictured here], and gave Sam a zap with my electric seat. In the ring, I got a little distracted from holding my containment but traded off with more go.
This is my fourth second place for the year. While they are all red ribbons, 2 of 6 feels so much better than the 2 of 2 [Dixie Cup] or 2 of 3 [ProAm]. Plus, last year, my coach pointed out one particular rider as someone to emulate. I beat her. Twice.
Sandra Hall Photography
Mid South Spring Premier (or Horse Show Proofs > 2014 Mid South Spring Premier 14) > Saturday Morning > 062 – AC Shmship WTC Adult & 065 – AC Equit WTC Adult. Yes, my two classes were randomly split by the 14-17 classes. No one knows why. This went on throughout the Academy schedule.
Chestnut horse, blue vest, only one with helmet. I’m sitting up nice & straight, particularly at the beginning of the first class. Posture fades over time. As I lean forward, Sam becomes less pleased with me and his ears come back. Just one picture in second class and I look as if I’ve been stunned. I’ll probably get the halt shot, MSSP14-062-031, as a different angle. No canter pics. They don’t take them.
Don’t steal: web image usage rant. Yes, I’m preaching to the choir. Think of it as my small candle against the darkness of copyright ignorance.