Rodney, Rider Position, and More Saddlebred Than I Was Expecting, Clinic Report, Stephanie Mosely, June 2021

Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. First multi-person social activity in ages. More below.

Clinic, Day 3, Video below.

This is my take on the weekend. What I heard may or may not be what the clinician said.

Stephanie Mosely Clinic
Full Circle Horse Park
Pell City AL
June 4-6, 2021

Rating: 10/10. Would return. Would recommend.

Mosely bills herself as a disciple of Mary Wanless. The clinic was an excellent implementation of the Wanless theories that I have encountered in her books and videos.

Oh, BTW, Rodney was an absolute, freaking star.

Day 1
That whooshing sound? That is nine years of saddle seat going poof. As soon as Mosely said that I was sitting too close to the cantle, I thought, ‘Ah, yes. I know where this is going.’ Center of the saddle. Heels back. The way riding used to be.

Want to take a minute to defend Saddlebreds. Lot of folks talk about ASBs running around with their heads up in the air & their butts trailing out behind. The Saddlebreds I ride? Sure. I never got Sam to use his hindquarters any more than I did in any of the kindergarten dressage tests I ever rode. Not true of the big-time horses. You can’t win the five-gaited class at Louisville without serious firepower in the hind end. Willie had a come-from-behind canter that I would have happily taken down to a fence. But I digress. Back to the clinic.

My posting mechanics were okay, just too far back. I can fix that. Boom, done.

Most of the rest of day one was reminding me to maintain the changes.

Rodney trotted around like a school pony giving leg lessons. Who is this horse? [Leg Lessons]

My list:
Knees in.
Keep kneeling.
Close fingers.
Shorten reins.

Sit close to the pommel but away from the neck.

It’s a good trot-to-walk transition if you can go right back to trot.

Pull in your tum, as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach.

Strangely, no mention was made of my shoulders. Either they were hidden by my vest, or fixing my seat and legs fixed my shoulders.

Why the vest? We started wearing them last year, when we were all trying to stay out of hospitals. We’ve kept the habit. Sometimes I ride alone. If I ever ride XC, be nice to be used to the vest. Red shirt because we have more Milton shirts then Rodney shirts. Ran out of the latter after day 1.

Final day 1 thought. I have so much baggage with this horse. If he’s bad, I’m frustrated. If he’s good, I wonder what I had been doing wrong before. It’s fun being me.

Day 1, Lecture
Push the Table. Put a chair in front of a heavy table, or wall, or fencing of an observation deck. Sit. Put hands in rein position. Push against table, wall, fence. Remember feeling in hands and stomach. Transfer to saddle. Push the table. This keeps your hands in a dynamically neutral position, neither pushing nor pulling. Activates core.

Book rx. Ride With Your Mind Essentials, Mary Wanless.
The New Anatomy of Rider Connection: Structural Balance for Rider and Horse, Mary Wanless.

Day 2
When I first got on, sitting that far forward felt as if I was sitting over his neck. I had to keep checking by putting the flat of my hand between me and the cantle. Really? That far forward? Okay.

I need to remember to keep Rodney’s attitude positive. He can be dour about work. When I am concentrating, I leave him to his own devices. He’s not his own best company. Happy! Perky! Pony!

Push The Table is what I call Saddle Seat Hands. Lift. Keep still. I am holding the reins to a double bridle and I do NOT want to mess up. [Different Versions of the Same Thing]

I can already hear purists sniffing they ‘just sit there with their hands in the air.’ I would posit that you can’t physically keep your hands still in relation to the horse without using your core. Otherwise your hands flop as you flop. Whether or not the riders are effective is a different argument. (Update: I would posit that they are. Saddle seat riders come in the same effective/ineffective range as any other discipline. Not the hobby horse I’m riding at the moment.) But ‘just sitting there’ is hard work. Defensive? Moi? Un peu. I get annoyed when people go after saddle seat inaccurately. For example, hearing Three-Gaited/Five-Gaited and conflating ASBs with the true gaited breeds. ASBs trot. Certainly it’s not perfect. I’m on record as being horrified by the ironmongery. If you are going to bust on a discipline, get your facts straight. Then bust away. But I digress. Again. Back to the clinic. [Bits From Hell]

Shortening the reins is a symptom. Simply shortening the reins produces no effect. Once Rodney had his body organized, shortening the reins was simple. I still had to be reminded, but simple.

Everyone complimented Rodney. Mosely joked that she wished she could borrow him for others to ride. We wanted to be pleased. Mostly we were confused.

In the Department of TMI, Rodney peed while he was waiting for me to finish up at the day 2 lecture. Yay! This is good news. He’s been bashful. On the first day, he held it until he got back home. That has to be unpleasant. On the third day, he got as far as the trailer on the way home. Thanks, horse. I guess it was time to pull up the mats.

Day 2, Lecture
The pull on the reins is never greater than the push from the body.

Book rx. Balancing Act: The Horse in Sport – an Irreconcilable Conflict? by Gerd Heuschmann.

Day 3
Tired, stressed, and little freaked out. Where has this horse been for the last ten years? The last time I rode this often in three days was Nationals.

In the free time while we waited for our turn, wonder groom and I took advantage of the nice ring and good footing to tinker with what we had seen in the clinic. News flash. Following with the seat means shut up and listen to what your horse is doing. Only then can I make changes.

Close your fingers. I ride with my fingers loose. Closing my fingers felt wrong because it meant gripping more. I decided that it mean keep the exact same feel on the reins, but readjust the shape of my hands. That I can do.

Ride every stride. This does not mean taking action every stride. It means being awake and aware and monitoring every stride. Much like riding Dottie. Always be ready with an arm in second position to balance her pirouettes. [A Change in Attitude, Show Report]

If one is farting around, fart around. If one is working, work. Don’t fart around while working.

Put the horse on consistent arc for the circle. Hey, I know that one. [Finish Your Pass, um, Corner]

The lengthen trot does not feel the way I thought it would. Perhaps I have been watching too many fancy Grand Prix trots.

Speaking of trot, save the show trot cadence for the Saddlebreds.

Speaking of Saddlebreds. My canter work went well, thanks to them. The saddle seat ideal is a slow, bouncy canter. I got pretty good at it. Saddle seat is all about the trot, so this never did me much good in the show ring. It did leave me with stellar canter-organizing tools.

We got as far as lengthen canter. Go us! At one point I got greedy and asked for too much. Rodney got on the forehand and tripped. He gets mad when he trips. As soon as it happened I realized what I had done wrong and apologized profusely. Both of us were able to ride through it, so that’s good. [What Next? Who Are You? getting mad]

At other point, Mosely said we were getting rushed. No, I thought, I’m getting rushed. Once I took myself down a notch, Rodney was fine.

Ride my horse. Time to turn up the volume. Absolutely right. That is where were are now, or were on this weekend. Clinicians can only address what is in front of them. She had no idea how much of a victory it was that Rodney was willing to motor around on the buckle with a calm, relaxed attitude.

Rodney was outstanding all three days. Best lessons we’ve every had. Could be due to brilliant instruction. Could be that she got the best version of the horse to work with. Could be both. On one hand, Mosely is good teacher, with a quiet, positive manner. Rodney and I would have responded well to this at any point. On the other hand, we are as far as we’ve ever been in identifying and managing Rodney’s issues to make him comfortable. Other instructors might have gotten farther with this Rodney. On the gripping hand, even if you get an easy serve, you still need to get your racket on the ball. She did.

Covid Thoughts
No masks while outside & riding. Not close to anyone.

For the lecture on day one, I brought along a mask when I thought we were meeting in the lounge. Turns out we were on the open-air observation deck next to the ring. I elected to stand in the ring, leaning over the wall. I’ll stay here; y’all can just sit over there.

Went home. Reviewed CDC recommendations. Vaccinated and outside. I should be good to go.

For the lecture on day two, I sat with everyone. I still chose the most remote seat. Talk turned to scheduling and the impact of Covid on same. One person opined that we were post-Covid, after all, ‘Look around, no masks.’ Speak for yourself, I thought. I am very conscious of how far away from me you are. I heard someone else say ‘Outside …’ so perhaps I was not alone in my reservations.

Otherwise, I have forgotten how to people. I need to dial it back.

In Other News
Rodney decided to get in the spirit of Pride month. Unusually, he had no interest in either of the mares he shared the semi-private lessons with. The first was a buxom chestnut. Maybe not his type. His ringmate on the third day was a dainty, bay mare. Meh. Meanwhile, his eye was caught by an attractive, gray cob in the clinic, and a lovely bay gelding who shared our warm-up on the third day. ‘That one. Over there. He’s cute.’ Well, he wasn’t wrong. [Getting Our Hunter On, mare obsession][If Rodney Were Human …, mare obsession, adult version]

Horse – like rider – needs to get out more.

Milton gets a gold star for staying home alone all three days. He had to be in the stall, but waited quietly for his buddy to return. No mix master.

Clinic links
[Clinic on the Horizon, Introducing Myself To Strangers]
[Clinic Prep]

Stay safe. Stay sane.

8 thoughts on “Rodney, Rider Position, and More Saddlebred Than I Was Expecting, Clinic Report, Stephanie Mosely, June 2021

  1. Very nice. And so nice to work with someone that is positive and that you enjoy and get good feedback from

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