I have been riding River lately, practicing sitting, posting, and two-point at the trot. I’m trying to be fluid and balanced and to use my legs before my reins. I’ve never before managed to use leg cues while posting or in two-point, and now that I know what I know about riding, I understand why I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t know it was okay to use my thighs. I interpreted “don’t grip” and “don’t pinch with your knees” as “have your whole leg flop loosely down the horse’s side without any sort of holding while you balance entirely on your seat” and thus had jiggle-knees and you could see daylight between my legs and the saddle all the time.
Now, I’m practicing “heavy seat, light head” and “tailbone heavier than pubic bone” and “inner thighs are part of the core, so engage them, silly!”
And River is enjoying our time together. She is trotting around like a happy little metronome, teaching me as we go, as I figure out how to organize myself and signal her, to have a plan and a focus, and to keep my attitude playful and joyful and not like we’re working at a job we dislike. I’m able to feel now when our circles collapse because she hesitates in the turn, and practice addressing that sooner so that we make a wider sweep around. I’ve played with mixing it up, with follow the rail and figure 8s and interlocking figure 8s and spiraling figure 8s.
River is easy to ride because she is so rhythmic. It feels like cheating, compared to Rocky*; I don’t feel like I’m trying to learn a dance while also standing on a wobble board on the deck of a deep-sea fishing boat. In a storm.
So I was able to practice using my leg cues while posting, and to start learning how to create patterns, and how to motivate her, and how to feel the difference between awkwardly executing steps (ONE two three ONE two three) and actually dancing together.
*I am finally at a level where I can help Rocky use his body better, through the supporting rein/soft feel concepts of pre-Finesse. We’ve already had some positive strides — heh heh — in this direction, showing Rocky how to carry his body to become more comfortable for himself as well as for us. When Rocky carries himself well, his trot becomes rhythmic, balanced, beautiful. It’s the “bad banana” or “upside down” posture and braced jaw that creates that stabbing, random, awkward gait.