This week I had a lesson with my coach Belinda Trussell and things were just not going well enough. It was taking too long for me to do the exercise properly. The exercise was three 10 meter circles on the long side of the arena and in between the circles travers ( haunches in). What was going wrong?
1.Biasini would fall in on the circles and not respect my inside leg. Or I was not using enough inside leg. 2. The travers did not have enough angle. 3.Biasini would loose the correct frame: too long in the frame or not enough activity behind.
Since I did not seem to be able to correct these things in a timely fashion Belinda asked me if I would like her to “pop on”. “Yes!” I replied. Belinda went to get her helmet and once she had it on she mounted up .
There are lots of amateur riders who do not want their coach to get on their horse. They prefer to sort out the training difficulty themselves. The feel they will learn more if they can work through it with their horse and that is fair enough. Belinda rarely gets on Biasini. It has been at least six months since she had asked if I would like her to take the reins. But on this day I was happy to have Belinda get on. I knew I was taking too long to get it sorted out. This process can just tire the horse and the problems can get worse.
Belinda got on and picked up the canter. She made a few quick corrections to Biasini’s canter and then did the exercise on the left rein , then the right rein. Then she told me to get back on.
As soon as I picked up the canter I knew I was riding a different horse. Belinda asked us to go straight into the exercise. The circles were balanced and the travers felt wonderful. I put my leg on and away he went with lots of bend and activity. Here is a video.
What is the huge benefit of having Belinda ride my horse on a day like this? I get back on and I can feel how he should be going. I can feel how it should be . So next time I can aim for that.
In my lessons on Thursday and Friday Belinda had something else for me to work on. She wanted me to learn how important it was to use the inside of my ankle to get Biasini’s hind end under him and bring up his shoulder and neck. Here is the breakdown of how it works.
- First Push with the inside of my ankle. PUSH and keep pushing. Keep that push on till I can feel the change in his balance.
- Then half halt . If necessary make it a strong half halt until he gives.
- Once I have achieved the balance and he has come through I ask him to move forward with more activity. I relax my lower leg OFF. Then tap with my heel. Just a light tap. If he does not respond then add more taps.
- Then another half halt to keep him balanced. But ideally it can just be a light half halt perhaps only with my shoulder blades.
That doesn’t sound too difficult does it? Well let me tell you the amount of PUSH from the inside of my ankle is tremendous. It is a big demand on my old lower legs! But when you train with someone who has been to two Olympics you try to Just Do It!
Did it work? Yes it did. What amazed me the most was that once I had Biasini balanced and light in my hand just a light tap with my heel and off he went forward and active.
What did I learn? I must develop a new muscle memory to train myself to use leg first and hand second. And that means a LOT of leg followed by a serious half halt. Then be light. The taps with my heel must be quick and snappy!
I had to have a hot bath with some salts in the evening after the Friday lesson! I felt like I had earned it.
*The featured photo for this post is of Belinda riding Biasini back in June when we were still in the lockdown.*