I Welcome My Home Horse
I apologize for my long absence. I had two rather boring lessons of the same old, same old, nothing new to discuss. During this time I learned about the Home Horse (http://www.homehorse.com/), I saved up enough money, and I bought one. It got here before the weather, either rain or COLD, interfered with my riding. My husband put it together, I rode it “bareback” four times for maybe a minute or two, swaying madly, then I got sick with RSV. Adding insult to injury when I recovered from RSV one of my teeth broke and the dentist had to dig the root out of my jaw. It was 2 ½ weeks before I even got to get up on my Home Horse again, much less a real live horse.
The Home Horse (HH) has helped keep me much more cheerful during our winter because now I have an alternative to getting up on a live horse. Not only that but I do not have to feed, water, trim hooves, groom or tack up a horse each time I ride, saving me energy. It did not matter this morning that it was 9º F, I could “ride” my Home Horse in comfort in my living room. Rain does not matter as much any more, while I greatly prefer riding a real horse when it is pouring rain now I can get into a saddle that moves under me in my warm, dry living room.
I got the “double bridle extension” for my HH and I have a 5/8” web “snaffle” rein with rainbow stops and a WB length 1/2” wide “curb” rein that has stops. I need help to keep my hands even on the reins! Looking at the HH with the extension and reins I noticed that the extra weight in front puts the HH on its “forehand” slightly. The bridle extension “feels” more sensitive in my hands than I thought it would, though of course it does not totally replicate the feel of a live horse's mouth.
I NEED help getting up and off of the HH. Some people can do this alone, using a solid table on one side and a wall on the other side, but Chris Cosma, the inventor of the HH, recommends having a spotter who can help.
At first I rode “bareback”. The HH's bottom platform is rounded like the bottom eighth of a sphere and is VERY sensitive to the “rider's” movements. Before I picked up my reins I experimented with how I held my head, starting with my face vertical I slanted my face maybe 5º looking downward and I could feel the HH shifting to its “forehand,” shifting back to center when my face went back to vertical. I do not feel this shift when the reins are in my hands but I am sure that a horse could still feel this. As an added note I have noticed when I followed the recommendations of the Masters of Equitation to direct my gaze between the horse's ears that I slant my face down. Could this be why so many ridden horses are on their forehands nowadays? Look forward not down, your horse will thank you probably by being more responsive to your driving aids.
By now I have tried 2 jumping saddles on my HH, both Crosby's, first with the “Prix de World” Lynn Palm jumping saddle, then with my 45 year old “Crosby Wide Front” Prix de Nations saddle. So far I prefer riding my HH in the older saddle, I feel like I have something between my calves instead of them just resting on thin air. My stirrups are the old Eldonian Prussian Sided regular stirrups and later on I plan to experiment with my Prussian Sided double offset stirrups with regular half-hole stirrup leathers.
Right now, with my feet flat on the platform and me trying to keep more weight in my heels and on the base of my big toe, I can find center. The first few times I rode my HH I could NOT find center at all so my sense of balance is already improving some, but it is still spotty from day to day and my improvement in side-to-side balance has yet to show up in my front-to-back balance. Still I my sense of balance, usually non-existent, is definitely improving a little bit.
When I pick up my stirrups it is a different story. What little front-to-back balance I have disappears completely as I sway uncontrollably front to back. If I try to 2-point using the stirrups my HH sways WAY forward, and when I do a 3-point crotch seat the HH sways forward too, just not as drastically. My lower legs feel like they have no support, not very surprising since the HH does not come with a horse's barrel, and the stirrups swing freely in the air. Trying to “post” is exciting, sort of like trying to keep one's balance on an ocean liner in heavy seas.
However when I keep my feet flat on the platform my balance is much better. I can “post” somewhat, not very high since a horse is not pushing me up. The platform still sways just not as much as when I use the stirrups. I can 3-point without stirrups pretty well by now, and my 2-point is improving as in the HH no longer sways all the way forward.
I started off riding my HH for maybe a minute. I gradually increased the time “riding” and yesterday and today I “rode” for 20 minutes. I get tired, most days I ride my HH I end up taking a nap because I am just too tired to stay awake. I mostly move my pelvis as if I am riding a horse at a walk, or I sit still trying to find center. Later on I will get more ambitious.
Chris Cosma, the HH inventor, has a series of exercises to do on the HH. I have not done any of them yet since it takes me a while to get used to any new type of movement. Maybe I will feel stable enough to start them in a week or two.
Right now my goals on my HH are to keep relatively stable in 2-point and 3-point, and while posting.
Riding the Home Horse is different than when I am riding a horse (like NO forward impulse), but if I can keep center on the wildly swaying platform of the HH I should end up irritating the lesson horses less when I ride them. This will be easier with my feet on the platform, when I get to being stable when I 2-point in stirrups then I will know that my sense of balance is much better than it has been for over 30 years.
I recommend buying a Home Horse, especially if you cannot ride a real horse everyday. It is not the same as riding a horse, but you will develop some muscles you did not know existed and probably end up being more stable on horseback. Plus you can ride during bad weather, after dark, real early in the morning when the real horses are eating their breakfasts, and you can just get on and ride (preferably with a spotter.) No commuting to the stable, no feed bills, no vet bills, no grooming or tacking up, getting ready to ride the HH is quick and easy and does not take much time at all.
Have a great ride!