Hippoi Athanatoi

New Semester, New Goals

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new semester at the riding school. As usual, that meant a weigh-in, and to my surprise I found myself much lower than expected. At 59 kg (minus clothes, which I do usually wear when riding ;P), I was almost light enough to add a few more ponies to my list of allowed horses. I guess the limit is at 60 kg, whereas the limit I have been worrying about (aka the Murphy-riding limit) must be 65 kg. I had actually thought he was at max 60 kg and the other ponies at max 55 kg, so that’s a nice surprise. Of course, it makes me tempted to try and drop another kilo. That is starting to get a little lean, though.

Either way, what matters right now is that my lessons for this autumn got off to a great start on Murphy. Whom, btw, seemed very happy to see me and seemed to be in quite a good mood in general. So glad to see he was fine. This was in fact the first time they had had a summer when all horses stayed injury free. Hopefully that won’t lead to a mass of injuries now. :P They did have to put one horse down, Amadeus, but he had been lame for a long while now. Quite young, but also quite large, and he was clearly developing a chronic injury. They also sold one pony who didn’t like it much at the stables, and got another one to replace it.

What about our lesson, though? Well, we started off mildly for the first 10 minutes or so, and discussed what we wanted to do for this semester. We were told that because of the new schedule (we are now earlier again, and in fact the last regular class on Tuesdays), we would have a chance at riding the same horse a lot, if we wanted to. I expressed a certain interest in this. ;)

Then, we got started. We were told to work on keeping a supple inner side while doing transitions, first between walk and halt and then between walk and trot. I found Murphy quite willing to work almost right off, though fairly uneven. He was quite easy to ride with his right side as the inner side, but his left side was much stiffer.

Pretty early on, I put my stirrups up, to get myself down in the saddle better. This may have caused some issues with my leg placement, since I found myself becoming a bit too tense when I tried to keep my legs far back enough. Some stretching is in order following the summer, it seems. I think this may have accounted for one problem my instructor observed, which was that I kept tensing my lower back every other stride. That would fit well with me forcing my legs back more or less with each stride.

I tried to manage a more even support from my lower back (having done a lot of crunches over the summer certainly helped with that), but I also had a bit of a tension issue with my shoulders. She pointed out that whenever I try to sit up properly, I don’t just keep my back up, I also tense my shoulders. They, of course, should be lowered instead. She managed to illustrate what she wanted quite well (probably the first time I really understood what was desired), but that didn’t mean I could manage it right off. It felt really strange to work on pulling myself up to sit tall while still letting my shoulders be relaxed.

I think we can more or less establish that I have a pretty atrocious position and that it will take a lot of work for it to feel right when my body is positioned properly. But, at least I am finally getting around to identifying all these issues. And all in all, it was not a bad lesson. I got some very nice work at the trot from Murphy, and my instructor was very pleased with how calmly I was riding, without trying too hard all the time. Not so nice, however, was the soreness from riding without my stirrups. Lets just say I got down in the saddle a little too much. ;P

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