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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

August 30, 2009

Beautiful riding weather, and making progress!

My riding and Phebe's trotting have improved dramatically. I'm not having to give it too much conscious thought anymore. When I do catch myself falling back into old habits, I make a quick correction. I have found that a big part of what ailed my ability to ride the trot was the position of my shoulders. Once I get them back, it is like the stars align, I'm back on my seat bones, my heels come down. Today I was riding the trot at 9 mph without difficulty. The two point is improving as well, though I find it a little more difficult than the sitting trot. When we go for lessons it looks like we are going to have to pick something else to work on :)

The photos are from the trail behind our place. We covered 10 miles today, and worked most of the miles over two short loops. One is a flat track / hill loop and we have started some short canters, right back into a trot on that track, and the other is flat circling a field where I work all three gaits and try to get control and rating at the trot. Right now the trot is 4-9 miles per hour. A nice range, and much better control. Now I need to find a steady horse/ rider combo that can work in that speed pocket for some training.

Phebes is starting to bloom into the horse I've always wanted. As bad as the tye-up episode was, it was a great "schooling" lesson for me. It forced me to look at how I ride, my expectations for my horse, her strengths and weaknesses. She will have been under saddle a year next month, and she and I have covered some ground. We didn't go where I thought we would go this summer, but because we didn't, some wonderful things are beginning to happen and I'm enjoying riding this horse. I can hardly believe that I said that! She still has her moments of crazy spooking, but they are become more of a rare thing. I figure another year under saddle and we'll see some amazing things. Happy and content are the words of the day...~E.G.


  1. I'm glad to hear that Phebes is coming along so well for you! :)

    One thing to work on, that will help you with your 2-point and your posting, is to alternate doing a 2-point trot, a posting trot, and a sitting trot. Do them each for a prescribed number of strides - say 5 strides - and it won't tire you or Phebes out. Especially at the sitting trot, which can tire their backs if they're not used to it. Doing the little game of altering these three seats will help stabilize your seat. The more you do it, the better your balance will become -- at first, it will be awkward!

    As far as 2-point goes, your goal is to center over your horse's center of gravity. Yes, you'll rise off the saddle, but not too much, and you don't want to just stick your butt out in the air. It's awkward at first until you gain the balance and leg strength to handle the position. Over time, as you become balanced you'll find the correct position. Be sure to maintain your leg position, and ride with your normal stirrup length. Riding with a too long stirrup leather will only worsen any riding problems you may have. You NEVER want to have to reach for your stirrup!

    As you've noticed, your shoulders play a HUGE role in your overall balance. For me, I have to imagine a few things:
    1. I have a laser beam that sprays out from my chest, about at the top of the sternum. This laser beam comes out at an ~45 degree angle to my chest, and points in the direction I'm heading. This laser beam encourages me to lengthen my torso and open my chest in order to maintain the proper angle of the beam to my chest.
    2. I have an eye in the center of my chest, and that is the eye that I use to "see." In order to use that eye, my shoulders must roll out and back (I have a tendency to roll them forward and down). This is the eye that directs me and my horse, if I'm turning, my head can only move as far as this center eye can see. This prevents you from overturning your torso or head during a turn.

  2. I did notice a slight soreness of her back this evening where most of my weight rides on the downward cycle of the trot. Not bad, but not what you want. We've done a saddle switch back to the Abetta since my leg chafing issue, so it may be the change of saddle as much...?

    Since the shoulder back epiphony, I cantered without hanging on ... It was almost effortless. Phebes had mare ears though *LOL*.

  3. I am so happy for you and Phebes! And thank you so much for the photos.

    I really really really need to work on my sitting trot. As in - I don't ahve a sitting trot. I'm really excited about starting lessons in 2 days!

    I'm so excited about where you and Phebes are going. I do agree that even though incidents like bowed tendons and tye-ups can be devastating in the short term, sometimes that is just what I need to have the scales fall from my eyes so I can objectively judge what I'm doing....

  4. did Tevis and no sitting trot? You must have legs of STEEL!
    I'm so excited about our progress, this has been the most major breakthrough we've had of working TOGETHER. I've had to lay my fear aside and trust her, that has been the hardest part. I'm sure hands free I'm gonna eat dirt again one of these days, but hey! I was falling off hanging on, so maybe it will just be "quicker" *LOL*. Her spooks of late are more of a sideways jump, rather than a high velocity roll back, which at least gives me a chance of hanging in there :) I'm supposed to start lessons soon, and not sure what to work on now. Most of what we have are probably more training than riding, though the practice I expect would be good for us both. Which reminds me I need to call Sandy (lesson person). Be sure and post up your progress and tips! ~E.G.

  5. Yep - posting trot all the way. I did try the posting trot in the arena last night just for fun, and It's better than it ever has been. My lower leg is loose and I can put it back or forward, give cues etc and I'm not bracing on it, so I must be close to doing it right. It just has such a totally different feel than posting.

    I'll post about my lessons - what my issues are and what drills I'm doing to improve them. Hopefully it helps someone else.

  6. oops. In my comment above that should have read "I tried the SITTING trot last night..."

  7. Love the pictures! Looks like a lovely place to ride! Someone at my ride this weekend recommended that it was better for the horse to come off their back in more of a 2-point style of riding. But boy on Doc's big trot that is challenging. Much easier for me to post. I try to be pretty observant about changing up my diagnals. Guess I'll have to practice the "two-point" stance some more to see how you can do that on a horse with a lot of impulsion and air time.

  8. Lida,

    We are doing both a sitting trot, and 2 point. I had never learned how to properly sit a horse and was having a lot of balance issues at the trot. So I figured I needed to work out the sitting trot first, and then the 2 point as it was the most difficult for me. Pretty sure a riding instructor could still pick me apart...but we are so much improved that I am thrilled. 2 point is the gait you will use most in distance riding. Far less likely to have a sore back riding that way.

    Phebes has a lot of "loft" in her trot, especially as it extends, which makes balance challenging.

    Your first CTR results were really good! Keep at it :)