So Tuesday I rode without stirrups for around 35 minutes. And that was not just walking. The majority of it was walking. But I did a surprising amount of posting trot, a tiny amount of sitting trot and a lot more canter. So yay me.
Scarlet was not as eager to deal with me this time. In previous times, he seemed annoyed at my sitting trot but was happy to just walk around while I moaned over my aching legs. This time, he had some gas in his tank and just wanted to go. This also resulted in an interesting occurrence while we were walking around. Someone had set a black longe line on the post next to the entry way. Scarlet noticed it when we passed it the first time and gave it a good side eye. I figured it would be easier to pass again if he was able to nudge it with his nose so I directed him toward it. Just as he reached out, the wind blew through the leaves and the combo spooked him. He planted and spun around. I laughed, remained balanced and pushed him back to the longe line. Definitely a shot of adrenaline. It was pretty cool to realize that yeah my seat (at the walk at least) is solid enough that I can handle a minor spook without stirrups.
I mostly trotted circles while I posted one or two circles and then sat one. I either sat one at the trot or walked one and stretched my hips out. It’s so hard to keep your legs up high enough to really support yourself without stirrups. That is at any speed. Even if I had just walked around for the whole ride, I’d still be sore. Sure you can let your legs hang but if you use no muscles, your pelvis ends up tilting forward and all your weight is on your hoo-ha. I’m riding a horse, not a bike thank-you-very-much. I will keep my weight on my padded rear, not my tender bits.
The trotting was okay. There was about one circle where I seemed to magically rock into a perfect position and the posting was super easy. But, like most magical things, it lasted only that circle and I couldn’t figure it out again. Oh well. It’s in there somewhere.
Our canter transitions haven’t been great lately and me being unbalanced didn’t help that. Scarlet wanted to just run into the canter and that was not okay. I had to actually ride from the walk/trot into the canter transition. I know that he needs me to set him up somewhat balanced in order for him to get that transition. However, when I’m doing these stirrupless rides, I really don’t have enough motor control left over to ride. I’m doing the best I can to stay in the saddle. This is the reason that I’m doing these rides (masochistic torture though they are). I need to improve so that if one part of my support system is taken away, I can still ride. I need to be able to ride and focus on my own position. I won’t ever be able to do that without forcing myself into situations that are hard for me.
We did okay this ride. I think overall, it is an improvement from last time but I really really really want to be able to do more trotting and actually be able to get Scarlet into some type of frame. If I can figure that out, then we can do more sitting and posting. Without the frame, Scarlet abhors when I sit the trot. I get that. I bounce. I’m better than I used to be and working on it but I bounce. And it totally isn’t comfortable to him. (side note: really interesting article I saw via fb the other day about how a horse’s back works via physics The Physics of Flexion in a Dressage HorseThe Physics of Flexion in a Dressage Horse) So, lots improvement and lots of things to improve on. We will get there someday.