Whoopsy, sorry about that little unplanned blog absence. My laptop started to shit the bed last week after some updates and after many hours of IT intervention it was determined to be unfixable. I got a new laptop but not until Monday afternoon, at which point I had almost 3 days of backed up work to do, so I didn’t have time to get anything ready to post here yesterday either. But I’m caught up now and back to the normal routine, and there’s really not a whole lot to fill you in on anyway. Honestly I’ve been thinking about cutting back on how many days a week I post, because while there’s still as much traffic here as ever, the interaction has taken a major nosedive in the past couple years. That seems to be true for everyone as blogs have been dying out left and right. Feels a little like speaking into the void sometimes, which isn’t really that fun. But anyway… updates on what’s been going on over here.
Much to Henry’s chagrin he’s been roped into assisting me with working on some of the takeaways I got from my Presto lessons, especially in regards with loosening my hips and letting my legs drape more. I’ve ridden him in my bareback pad a few times to help me stretch down, and I’ve even put my dressage saddle back on him a couple times too. He’s not sure what the heck all this tomfoolery is about all the sudden but he’s been a good sport about it (mostly). I started yoga last week and mostly what I’ve learned so far from it is that I’m tight AF and suck at breathing. Awesome. My Airrosti appointment is today so we’ll see what comes of that.
The most noteworthy thing that’s happened is that I had a lunge line lesson with Martin the GP dressage trainer yesterday.
I haven’t ridden with Martin in… a while. A couple years maybe? I used to go over there pretty regularly, especially when I was closer to him, and he’s helped me a lot with Henry over the years. Martin is extremely patient and always chill and has a good eye for how the horse’s and the rider’s bodies are working. He always likes to say that dressage is really just PT for horses and works by gymnasticizing the horse, so I was like perfect – gymnasticize me now!
They gave me Waren, the ex-Grand Prix horse, to ride instead of the usual QH they usually use for lunge line lessons. Martin said he thought I’d get more out of it since Waren has bigger gaits and more “motion in his ocean” so to speak, which I appreciated. I wanted it to be a challenge, or closer to what Presto feels like. Waren wasn’t convinced that he signed up for this lunge lesson bullshit, but he humored us anyway.
We started off at the walk with no stirrups, and Martin had me moving and stretching my legs, hips, back, and arms. He had me thinking about really loosening my hips and relaxing my leg down and back. My hips are perpetually tight, but some of the exercises he gave me definitely helped open up the angle a bit more and I’ll be using them for sure.
After that Martin had me put one hand on the pommel and one hand on the cantle, and we moved to trot. I was glad he let me start like that because boy, that first step Waren took into trot I was like ok yep my horses don’t move quite like this. Martin had me continue to move my legs independently as we trotted around (he had me moving my leg forward and back from the hip, and rolling my toes up, down, in), which helped settle my seat into the saddle where it needed to be and prevent me from gripping with my leg. Then he had me let go of the saddle and move my hands to the regular position, but keep my legs feeling draped and loose. That in turn helped me sit and absorb the motion with my core better.
Then he gave me my stirrups back and we did more trot, alternating between posting and sitting every 10 steps or so. After that we moved to canter, and Waren wasn’t convinced he really had to canter more than a full circle at a time. That’s fair. It was hot and humid AF and I was interrupting his lunch noms. The first few times he broke to trot I was definitely bumbling trying to stay with him and not get launched into space from the unexpected change of gait, but I also kind of appreciated that it happened because I got better at keeping my body and seat steady and following every time. I mean… it wasn’t great, don’t get me wrong, but it did get better.
After a walk break Martin took my stirrups away again and we did more trot and canter without them. We capped off with trotting around and having me move each leg back (alternating, one at a time), rolling the toe down and in, and then bring it back under me. That tested, like, all of my available coordination skills at the trot.
I did feel a lot looser in the hip and more draped in my leg though, by the end, and it was great to get to ride a horse like Waren that moves through his back more than either of mine. Martin was very positive too, he said he didn’t see anything major wrong that I’m doing, it’s just a matter of keeping the angle more open/leg back/toe forward and staying balanced that way so I can follow better.
I’ll be honest though, it felt WAY easier to do all that in Waren’s saddle. Like, massively easier to keep my leg in a better place. When I was tacking up I was looking at that saddle like “omg there’s no way I’m gonna be able to ride in this thing” but I was quite wrong. It was an immediate difference in feel. Which, I knew I was going to end up getting a new dressage saddle with Presto anyway, but this was an eyeopener for sure. I’d like the block to be shorter, but now I have some ideas of what I’d like to try if I can ever in my life get a saddle rep to respond to me. I’ve not ridden in a lot of different dressage saddles so that part was a revelation too. I’m the problem for sure, but my saddle also isn’t helping.
When I got done I messaged Bobby to tell him how it went (he rides at this barn exclusively now with his fancy DQ horse) and that’s when I learned that Waren has a reputation.
And then someone else from the barn messaged me on Insta.
Ha. Hahahahaha. Hey, I wanted a challenge and Martin delivered. Apparently Waren is known as the ab blaster, and all I can say is that I’m definitely glad I’ve been doing some core work over the past few months or someone would have had to peel my body out of the rafters of the indoor. My hips were on fire during the drive home. I can definitely tell that I have h/j roots and have spent the majority of my life in a jump saddle with a much more closed hip angle riding in a completely different way. Changing this shit is hard, especially when you’re creeping up on 40 and aren’t nearly as bendy as you used to be.
Once again I have not been able to access good enough internet to upload the whole 30 minute Pivo video (this little gadget is seriously earning it’s keep lately) but I did pull a couple clips with some better moments as well as not so great moments. Full transparency. At some point I need to come back and make GIFs of the different exercises he was having me do but today is not that day.
I’m not super sore today but I definitely feel like I’ve been worked out from head to toe. This poor Airrosti person later is probably gonna be like “what the actual hell have you been doing?”. Waren. The answer is Waren. And yeah I totally wanna do it again, because I’m a glutton for punishment.