Friday, January 22, 2010

Fitting a Saddle for Balance

Proper saddle fit is crucial for both horse and rider to achieve balance and comfort. But achieving this, is often confusing. Want to make sure that your saddle achieves a proper "balanced" fit for you and your horse. Watch this excellent, quick video from an expert saddlemaker to learn more!

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Tribute to Old Friends

A touching post on Rerun's facebook page today, made me stop and think about the many, special animal's and horses that have touched my soul and influenced my life. Thanks to that post, I took a few minutes to reflect and say a special prayer for them all.... here it is:

God bless my animal friend’s that have touched my life & taught me invaluable lessons that I can pass on to others. Thank you for making me a better human being. I honor your memory by working to spread these lessons to others. In doing so, you live every day! You inspire me to increase awareness about the importance and joys of responsible ownership. Thank you for being my guardian angels and teachers both here on earth and in heaven. Bless you for stirring my soul and showing me the meaning of true, unconditional love!

Here’s a tribute to one such dear friend who “Doctored my Soul”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hunter/Jumper Equitation Position Woes. Are You Guilty Too?

Here's a great article from Jane Savoie's awesome site and blog that gives some fantastic riding advice-especially for hunter/jumper riders! Learning to sit in the middle of your horse, relax, and stop riding off that knee opens up a whole new world of comfortable riding for you and your horse! It only took me 20...okay fine... 30 something years to get this - it really works.

I grew up riding in the hunter/jumper discipline and somewhere along the way got really "confused" with proper seat position and mistakenly believed good equitation was riding in a forward seat with bum out of the saddle, really short stirrups, knees completely closed to the saddle, with that "archy-archy" back....for us gals.... otherwise known as the "Boobs & Bum" out position. Hunter/Jumper ladies have all heard it! Although, admittedly, some of us lacking "natural endowment" (myself sadly included here) find this position more challenging so to speak than more "gifted' gals :)..... Hum, now that I'm older, and slightly wiser, wonder who came up with this notion of "equitation?" No offense, but the ladies, typically outweigh the gentlemen when it comes to equitation classes don't they? I'm suddenly wondering if this "Hugh Heffnerish" style of uncomfortable riding wasn't by chance promoted by men for a little more...shall we say, viewing pleasure? Okay, I'm getting really off topic so best to ponder this one for another day.

My point is that within the past couple of years, after taking some centered riding clinics and working with an awesome trainer specializing in Dressage- Judy Fendley- the light bulb finally switched on for me! Now that's not to say that I don't still get chastised by Judy from time to time for being one of those "hunter riders" (which by the way, I will always be) but, I've finally realized, especially working with young horses how much more effective it is to ride in the center of my horse with a relaxed seat and leg position. I've tested this out on my "greenie".... ridden with hiked up short-short stirrups forcing me to ride off my knee, making my guy choppy, short-strided, and generally "pissy." Why? Because I'm pinching the crap out of him with my knee and completely off balance. If he could yell..... "OUCH! Get those damn knees out of my side WOMAN!" he would!

I used to think I was doing the horses I was riding a favor by hiking my stirrups up because I was "getting off of their back." But lightness in seat is not about standing up off your horse's back by riding off your knees! Getting the bum off your horse's back at the expense of jabbing their sides continuously with your knees isn't accomplishing much, certainly not balance! This position always made me top heavy too throwing my horses onto the forehand and balancing on my hands. By lengthening my stirrups and relaxing my leg and seat riding becomes more comfortable for me and my boy. He suddenly relaxes with me, and his stride opens right up. He moves willingly and happily! After the ride, my knees don't "snap, crackle, and pop" or cramp up like they used too and my horse isn't stiff.

Too bad I didn't get this with my first horse of seventeen years! All that knee pinching and seesawing in his mouth thinking I was achieving "collection"- oops! Sorry Sammy! You were a great sport and no wonder you had so many bucking, temper tantrum fits with me!

If you too can relate, this article and the videos are a must watch/read!

SOURCE: Jane Savoie