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Fw: [HORSE-SENSE:2297] trailriding in balance

: >From: Judy
: >Subject: trailriding in 
: >balance
: >Hello Jessica. Thanks so much for your information and service. I get
: >your newsletter on my home business computer and getting your  emails is
: >always a high point and a great excuse for a break!
: >     My husband and I are in our 40s and fairly new riders, about 2.5
: >years. We took lessons (Western) to get started and I still do
: >occasionally to improve my balance and build my confidence. I'm sorry to
: >report I don't have a "natural" seat - I have to concentrate on sitting
: >deep, soft eyes, relaxing legs, etc.
: >     We are fortunate to own 2 great trail horses: both QH mares, one 23
: >and the other 13, both neck-rein and follow leg aids, and both are dead
: >broke as far as cars, 4-wheelers, wildlife, etc. As I say, we're very
: >lucky. My husband uses a western roping saddle and I use a Tucker
: >endurance saddle (I like the light weight and closer feel). Both saddles
: >are high quality, have been evaluated for fit on our horses, and are
: >fine.
: >     I have checked your archives and also looked at the AERC and NATRC
: >sites but haven't found the answer to my particular question: maybe it's
: >too basic. Here goes: I want to know HOW we should be riding for various
: >terrain on the trails. I suspect we'd be doing our horses a favor to
: >change position at certain times, as for going up or down a steep
: >incline, crossing over logs, etc. Should we change position at all or
: >just sit through everything? Our horses seem to go well under any
: >circumstances but if we could help by leaning forward, leaning backward,
: >standing in the stirrups, etc., to ease the burden on their backs, we'd
: >be happy to.  (This really hit home to me recently when my mare
: >essentially bounded up a long, steep incline - bless her heart, I wanted
: >to help her out!) As with motorcycles, I'm not sure the rider's
: >instincts for "helping out" by leaning, etc., are always right.
: >     Or am I overthinking this whole thing?! Thanks for your response,
: >Judy
: Hi Judy! What a wonderful question - your horses are so lucky. Many people 
: ride for years without even thinking that changing the way they sit or lean 
: could make their horses more comfortable on the trails.
: There are times to sit, and times to get your seat up and off your horse's 
: back. If your trails are fairly flat, you'll be sitting most of the time. 
: If your trails are hilly, you will probably spend a good bit of your time 
: in a half-seat (two-point position). Either way, it's good to know what 
: will make life easier for your horse.
: On the flat at walk and jog: You can sit, but remember that "sitting" on 
: horseback isn't like sitting in a chair, it's much more like standing on 
: the ground, legs apart, knees bent. Spend at least a few minutes in your 
: two-point position while you're warming up, and do this again at intervals 
: during any ride. It will help you develop a good leg and improve your 
: balance on horseback. Even when you are riding a slow, easy-to-sit jog, 
: spend some time in a half-seat.
: On the flat at trot: You could sit - but your horse would be much happier 
: if you didn't. Posting to the trot is a useful skill. Don't worry about 
: changing your posting diagonal every time your trail bends or twists, but 
: DO make it a point to change diagonals reasonably often, so that you aren't 
: spending more time posting on one than on the other. If you always post on 
: the same diagonal, you and your horse will both develop unevenly.
: On the flat at canter: Again, you could sit, but your horse would probably 
: be happier if you spent at least half of your canter-time in a half-seat. 
: And again, spending time in a half-seat is a wonderful way to develop your 
: leg and balance.
: As you ride, whether you are "sitting" the walk or jog or canter, rising to 
: the trot, or staying slightly out of your saddle in a half-seat, from time 
: to time, ask yourself where you would land if your horse disappeared in a 
: puff of smoke. If the answer is "on my feet with my knees bent", then 
: you're doing fine. If the answer is either "oops, on my face in the mud," 
: or "oops, on my back in the mud", then you need to spend more time in a 
: balanced half-seat to learn to stay OVER, not in front of or behind, your feet.
: Up and down hills: The horse is a rear-engined animal that uses its head 
: and neck to help itself balance. If you keep this in mind, you won't make 
: many mistakes on hills. Give the horse its head, as much as you possibly 
: can, so that it can balance itself while it's climbing and descending. 
: Don't try to make any big movements or any significant changes to your own 
: position DURING an ascent or descent. To free the horse's back and let its 
: hindquarters (the engine) work effectively, you'll do best to stay very 
: slightly out of your saddle and balanced over your feet no matter whether 
: you're going uphill or downhill. Take your hills straight! Coming down at 
: an angle can cause a horse to fall. To stay balanced coming down a slope, a 
: horse needs to keep its hindquarters directly behind the rest of its body, 
: not off at an angle. When you're coming down a hill and you are MOST 
: tempted to choke up on the reins and look down, don't - instead, let the 
: horse have a little MORE rein, and keep looking UP. It will help both of 
: you stay balanced.
: Going uphill, don't hesitate to get into a half-seat, give the horse a long 
: rein, and let the horse do the work. Sitting and kicking just makes the 
: horse's job harder. Horses can canter up hills more easily than they can 
: walk or trot, so keep that in mind. If your horse offers a canter up a 
: steep hill, don't panic and assume that he's running away - he may just not 
: have the strength required to trot uphill.
: When you get to a log or a ditch or a trickle of water: The way you sit 
: will tell your horse whether you are expecting to walk over the obstacle or 
: jump over it. You'll need to make up your mind before you reach it. Horses 
: can walk over surprisingly large and wide items. If you feel the horse 
: gathering itself for a jump, grab a double handful of mane, about halfway 
: up the horse's neck, and use the same balanced-over-the-feet, 
: weight-in-the-heels, crotch-barely-off-the-saddle position that you would 
: use going up or downhill. Hold the mane tightly, LOOK UP, and leave the 
: reins loose enough so that the horse can make the jumping effort without 
: getting hurt by the bit - or by the rider slamming into his back as he 
: lands. Most savvy trail horses will walk over anything they CAN walk over, 
: and save the jumping for occasions that actually require it - a really BIG 
: treetrunk blocking the entire path, for instance.
: It sounds as though your instincts are already telling you what you need to 
: know: Stay balanced and stay out of the horse's way so that it can do its job.
: By the way, don't worry about not being a "natural". The best riders I know 
: are not the naturally-talented ones - they are the ones to whom everything 
: came hard. Riders who have to work for every tiny skill may take longer to 
: get to the same place as naturally gifted riders, but they learn patience 
: and perseverance while they're getting there, and once they learn 
: something, they OWN it.
: Happy trails to you!
: Jessica
: HORSE-SENSE is a subscriber-supported newsletter. If you would like to help
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: ===========================================================================
:                 Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE Newsletter
:         Copyright (C) 2000.  Jessica Jahiel, Holistic Horsemanship(R)
: ===========================================================================
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: and copied for personal, non-commercial use provided that all authorship
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: may not be republished in any form without express permission of the author.
: ===========================================================================
:        |      Jessica Jahiel, Ph.D.
:          Voice: (217) 684-2570        | * Author * Clinician * Lecturer *
: |    Holistic Horsemanship (R)
: ============================================================================

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