I have a very tired worn book on my book shelf. I would be very sad if I ever lost this book, particularly this copy that has water stains, holes, and binding that is starting to give away. It is a much loved book, it has notes and parts underlined. Many a day have I read a passage and practiced it with my departed horse, Hope. I hope that you have this book on your shelf too: Centered Riding by Sally Swift. I don't care if you ride dressage, western pleasure, hunter, saddle seat, trail, or any other equestrian sport, Centered Riding is the corner stone of riding in my humble opinion. It is based on basic biomechanics.
Thursday is drawing ever closer. I said nearly three weeks ago that I would trot on my next riding lesson. Leaping a the chance to drive last week I evaded it for another week. One reason I am still so apprehensive is because I just have not been thinking about it. Just like my first ride on Bill, I have to take a lot of time to visualize what I am going to do. I just haven't.
So I thought, I should read what Sally has to say about trotting. This is actually a neat position to be in, sort of a beginner again, only with a lot of experience. A bit of an oyxmoron, but rather accurate. I know what to do, but I have that disconnect.
So what does Sally have to say about trotting? First she reminds us of position again. Take a plumb line from your ear down through your ankle. In fact if you remove your horse out from under you, you should still be standing straight and balanced. Keep your chest open, being a large chested woman, this one is a bit difficult for me. She talks a lot about the ankle. Keeping them soft, not shoved down as we are so often taught. Remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Push your heels down, you actually push yourself out of the saddle. Just relaxed, we have about 25 percent of our weight in our legs so just keeping your leg softly draped around the barrel of the horse and a soft ankle will allow your ankle to drop. Keep an equal amount of weight in both stirrups.
I love Sally Swift for all her visualizations. Your body filled with ice cream that melts out your heel. This helps you to sink into the saddle, and also draws your leg down. Another visualization is to imagine your legs are so long that they drag in the mud, to again draw your leg down around the horse's body. For the rising trot imagine a bungee cord attached to your belly button pulling you out of the saddle, up and forward for every stride.
Reading over these parts, is helping me to think about the trot. Remember how it feels. My muscles remember what to do and I know that after the first few steps it will just be a matter of quieting the negative self talk and allowing myself to enjoy the ride. I actually do like to remember the feel of the trot. It is rather a comforting gait, so steady and rhythmic.
So I am going to do this. . two more days!