No worries….I have not switched from dressage to being an exercise jockey at the racetrack. However….in my lesson today, with my coach Belinda Trussell, I was reminded of a Very Important Point about riding a racehorse. When you ride a race horse the more you pull the faster they run. How does that apply to me?
Today we were working on the travers (horse’s hindquarters coming in to the inside of the track while the head and shoulders continue to go straight ahead). Then we went on to work on the canter half pass (doing travers on a diagonal line across the arena). As some of you may already know this has long been my nemesis. Today as we worked on the half pass to the left it went quite well. But then we came to the half pass to the right. Ah….there’s the difficulty. In taking the half pass across the arena Biasini and I are in agreement till we get to the centerline. Then he starts to get stronger and stronger and by the time we reach the rail it has all gone awry.
“I think I can see what is happening,” Belinda said. “When he starts to speed up you panic a bit and then you freeze in your hands and wrists and you are locked onto him. This makes him pull even more because then he panics a bit. It like a racehorse. The more you pull the faster they run.”
It’s like a racehorse. The more you pull the faster they run.
The penny dropped. The lightbulb went on. I had a racehorse off the track when I was 16. I learned the hard way that the more I pulled on the reins the faster he went.
We tried the half pass again. I relaxed my arms, wrists, fingers and when Biasini sped up I would relax, give and my fingers would say: “here!” then give again. It worked.
I’m not saying that all my troubles are over. Not at all. I have to unlearn one muscle memory and learn a new one. At 16 that was easier than it will be now. But at least I have made a start. Here is a video Belinda took at the end of our lesson. It was a hot day and we had been working very hard so both Biasini and I were ready to call it a day but we finished on a good note with travers down the long side and then some trot.
*Featured image is photo of Alfred Munnings “Newmarket Start” c. 1944 From the Paul Mellon collection. *
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