The past two months have improved my abilities at an appropriately glacial pace. Winter came, snowed, thawed then froze, then snowed, then thawed and froze again, leaving a thick layer of ice covering everything. After the glacier subsided and the mud was something less than thick enough to suck the hooves off the horses, we have been continuing on with the task of subtle repositioning in the saddle, which is much harder than it sounds.
The best way to describe it is to stand up,…
We did a dressage competition at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy last Saturday. We were riding the 2019 USEF Training Level Test 2. For the first time, a test result that came back and I'm quite happy with everything on it. The judge, I was told afterwards, judges FEI competitions, and has a reputation for marking hard and being picky, so it…Continue
Despite all I've read about how to position oneself in the saddle, and despite my best effort to follow advice, it is still easy to mis-understand, and easier still to slip into poor posture.
So, re-reading the advice for beginners in the EC handbook, and re-reading Sally Swift's definitive work, and discussing it with my coach while doing my usual, strenuous riding without stirrups, we came to two observations, viz., that the stirrup bars and flaps of the standard European riding…Continue
It astounds me, as I comb through back issues of magazine articles, online articles, and books on equitation, the degree to which I now find myself adding a mental asterisk to almost every exercise and lesson, especially whenever it mentions "quiet seat" or "keep the hands/legs quiet" or some such: *if you have enough leg strength.
That little aspect rarely, if ever, get mentioned; it gets glossed over, in fact by almost everyone. Even Clinton Anderson, in his videos…Continue
As training went, March was pretty good.
I got some stuff cleaned up around the arena that has been bugging me for a while. There is still a massive amount more to do, but almost all of the broken jump stands are now either repaired or removed, all of the broken poles have had the jagged parts cut off so they can be used as ground lines, or likewise trashed.
The top bars on the jumps have been raised another hole, so that we are now jumping over obstacles about mid-thigh…Continue
It's been a rather strenuous month, for me. Oakley has had it easy. The weather has been giving 30 degree swings, from 10C to -20C and back, which, of course, leads to melting and flash freezing into ice that is treacherous to move over (I don't ride over to the arena, we walk). I did manage to cover the path with freshly-used bedding from the compost pile during one of the brief warmish spells, so the footing, while frozen, is not ice.
You see, I learned to work the tractor,…Continue
In our weekly lesson we are now jumping about 85cm (2'9") which probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but my desire is not to jump as high as possible in as short a time as possible, but rather to excel at going over jumps, raising the bar a bit at a time, and address whatever shortcomings become most obvious as the difficulty increases. My immediate goal, is to ride around in rhythm, to turn to the jump in rhythm, go over the jump in…Continue
" Aucun homme ne peut rien vous révéler sinon ce qui repose déja à demi endormi dans l'aube de votre connaissance." Kalil Gibran
My legs ache. All the muscles through my core ache. I can feel each and every one. That can only mean one thing: my riding must have improved.…Continue
Added by B. G. Hearns on October 1, 2017 at 5:35pm — No Comments
I spent April travelling in Europe. I worked out a tour of sites I've long wanted to visit, for a variety of reasons. Of course horse-history is a big part of that, so I thoroughly enjoyed going to museums full of horse-armour and getting a definitive answer to a question that has bugged me for a long while, about the size of horses in the middle ages. It turns…Continue
Very many seem to treat this year a something of a kidney stone, and in much of the world, according to the news, it was. But in my little corner of the world, it was awesome.
First, I spent most of the year's focus on learning to jump, and teaching Oakley to jump. To learn, I hiked up the road a ways to another barn, got on school horses that would reliably jump. One cannot…Continue
That is the phrase for the week, that I have heard from three different people: "He is not the same horse." It is a complement, and a vindication of all the careful work I've been doing for the past 5 years, and particularly the last one.
One friend who has not seen Oakley in over a year came up to watch me ride & do some simple figures. She doesn't know a lot about horses,…Continue
Added by B. G. Hearns on August 16, 2016 at 8:45am — No Comments
It's been a good month. We started May off with a dressage competition and did very well. We took home a nice, red 1st place ribbon, although that almost doesn't count because the other competitors in my class never showed, but what does count is our score, which is the highest he's ever got, and if we'd got that score at two previous competitions would have won then, and would have had at least 2nd or 3rd place…Continue
Added by B. G. Hearns on June 12, 2016 at 7:30am — No Comments
My dad used to say that anyone who cannot explain what they are doing so well that anyone can understand really doesn't know what they are doing.
No. That is wrong.
There are a great many people who know very well what they are about, yet who cannot explain anything very well at all. Knowing what you are…Continue
"To an optimist, taking a step backwards after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's more like a Cha-Cha."
Seems like a great way to describe our progress, two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes two steps back.…
I've written a bit about lightness before, but "lightness" seems to be a potent trigger word that creates great emotionally charged discussion all over the 'net. Everyone seems to agree it is a Good Thing (TM) but no one can explain exactly what is meant or how to achieve it.
So this short post covers a simple, specific exercise I've found…
Added by B. G. Hearns on May 27, 2015 at 2:30pm — No Comments
I finally found a couple of free evenings and finished a sword-holder and stirrup lance-bucket, so I can now strap my repro 1908 British Cavalry Sabre onto my repro 1912 UP saddle and re-introduced Oakley to the sport of tent-pegging.
Last time we did this was over 2 years ago, and he was... skittish. He got terribly upset at the sound of the sword drawn from the scabbard, he was nervous about the sight of a drawn sabre, tried to escape from the waving pennant on the lance, and did…Continue
Sometimes it just feels as if we're not getting anywhere. Another beautiful autumn, the last show of the year goes by and the difference between this month and last month is hard to discern. It seems as if we're just inching forward. We're fighting a World War I battle, a titanic struggle over a few yards, at great cost and effort with nothing to show.
And there is…Continue
Now we are in the refinement stage. Only scored 58.3% and placed 8th out of 8 at the dressage show last Sunday (17th Aug), so no decorations for the barn, but I am still deliriously happy because, in almost all other regards, everything went perfectly.
As anyone who has ever gone to any event can attest, there are always tasks to do, many must be in a certain order and by a…Continue
Added by B. G. Hearns on August 20, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments
We had a marvelously successful show a couple of weekends back, a dressage show at Fox Run, near Cambridge. It wasn't our first show, we tried that back in '11 with a disastrous attempt at a short course event, but it was our first successful show and we achieved all our objectives and then some.
The objective was simple: do all the necessary preparations the week before,…Continue