Have you decided to start riding again after taking a long break from the sport? It's not as easy as it was when you started. But not to worry, we have some insightful advice on common issues, like fear and fitness, for those of you getting "back in the saddle."
If you didn’t get the chance to head south to show this winter, then you’ve probably been riding in an indoor arena for months now and if your horse gets fast or strong after the jumps, being in a smaller arena can make it even harder to get them back before the corner.
One of my favorite exercises on the flat to help riders get used to regrouping their horses after a line, so they don’t fly through the end of the arena (missing lead changes or adversely affecting their approach to the next jump or line), is practicing cantering around the arena with a large canter circle on the short ends of the ring. On the long sides of the arena get up in a two-point, as if you were doing a line of jumps, then sink back into the tack, stretch up, and collect the canter for the circle on the end of arena. Then rise back up into a two-point for the next long side, allowing the horse to go back to a regular canter. At the next short end, sink into the tack, collect the stride for a large circle, and repeat until both you and the horse can easily go forward and back smoothly and promptly.
As you can imagine, this is also a great exercise for teaching a green horse to adjust their stride. For the more advanced riders, I have them then do this exercise in reverse: two-point on the circle at the end of the arena, in a working canter, and then sink into the tack and collect the stride down the long side. Changing it up like this is good for teaching horses to be adjustable. It is also especially helpful for riders who have quiet horses and want to keep them in front of their leg in the turn where they might normally get bogged down (especially in an indoor arena that is smaller than what they are used to riding in). Finally, an added benefit of this exercise is fitness. Having the riders canter around the ring up and down in the two-point improves their strength—almost like riding a course without putting the wear and tear on the horse.
You can add canter rails on the ground or cavalettis to this exercise too. Start with one on either long side, then two rails on the long side so riders can work on their eye by practicing getting a set amount of strides between the rails (6-7 strides or however many you want). Alternatively, you can do one rail on each side of the ring. Four total; one on each short side and one on each long side. Still practice the large circles on the end of the arena and two-point down the sides. The riders will be able to work on their eye by counting the strides between the rails and improve their horse’s fitness and rideability.
Balance in the Stirrups: The Half-Seat
The Half-Seat is the cornerstone of the American Forward Riding System. In this topic Bernie reiterates just how essential it is to perfect this position.
Running Time: 7 minutes and 58 seconds
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