So here is step #1, monthly exercises & tips, we’ll start slow & easy K? (if you’re anxious to dive right in check out my long-distance riding evaluation of Mallory, there are exercises in there too!)
Be a Shadow Rider
This is a GREAT exercise for this time of year, it’s short & sweet & easy to do on winter afternoon rides where long shadows are easy to find! Use your shadow as a mirror, check in & see if you’re sitting straight (keep in mind that straight might be skewed by the sun!) Ride a pattern so that you are perpendicular to your shadow, what happens when you turn your horse more toward the sun? turned away?
Now use your shadow to help you practice your feel & timing. Start with the horse’s front feet, can you feel when the right front hoof is lifting off the ground (you want to key into when the horse’s hoof is lifting because that’s the moment in time when you will be able to alter where it lands…sorry you can’t move a horse’s hoof when his hundreds of lbs of weight are on it!) If you can’t feel it, cheat! Look down at the horse’s shoulders. Use your shadow! Find that timing! Now, get your hands in time with those front feet (like pedaling a mini-bike with your hands, right hand up=right hoof up, left hand up=left hoof up) Keep your hands in-front of your saddle in a small arena, they should not be moving more than a couple of inches, no need to be wavin’ at the neighbors while you’re getting the feel of this!
Now can you keep that same feel of the timing as you move into a trot? backup?
Now move to the back feet, same exercise, use your shadow (it’s much harder to look behind you to cheat!) Feel how the lift of your horse’s hip lifts the tops of your hips? Feel the slight change in the weight in your seat bones? LEARN this! dream it breathe it! When you KNOW this feeling & you know where your horse’s feet are underneath you & you’re in time with your mount you will instinctively cue at the correct times to better your transitions, departures, spins, turns, etc. EVERYTHING!! 🙂
Try it out & let me know how it goes! Don’t forget to write a story below to get entered to win that $50 gift certificate!!