Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Sunday before last Chris was expecting visitors, her mother and her caregiver were coming over to visit.    I didn’t plan on riding Chief, so I groomed him in the normal fashion then proceed to the small arena for warm up.  After walking and trotting and jumping over some ground poles we were both bored.

A quick glance at Jack and Chris told me they weren’t going to be ready anytime soon and Chris’s mother had arrived.  I asked Chris if Jack could come with us for a walk.  She guided him by his cheek until he joined us and got the idea to follow along.  We walked around the trail with Jack nudging a faster pace from behind. At one point Jack could have gone around us, taking a lower path that circumvented a small hill. Instead he followed behind Chief until we returned to the barn.

Chris was mid visit and asked if I was going to ride.  I said OK, after saddling Chief up we went into the arena.  I some basic ground work before mounting Chief, on his back he felt sturdy as usually but a little like a tank without much steering fluid left.   After walking around the arena I decided to trot from the middle of the long side and the length of the short side.  My idea was to get him to trot through the corners.

On our first attempt as we neared the corner he blew out to the left, both of us becoming unbalanced as I continued straight.  After adjusting  my seat I asked him to walk which he did, anxiously.   We started over, around the arena then trot; once again he blew out despite my firm left leg and open reign to the right.  After deciding find the most pleasant way to end our ride I let him go at a free walk.

After sitting down with Chris and her guests, she asked me what I worked on.  She commented “I didn’t see any trotting”.  I explained what I was trying to accomplish and she mentioned that we needed to get our balance.  I hadn’t thought of Chief’s balance, or my balance for that matter. I focused on sitting straight and using the proper aids.  But as next week lessons proved just a slight tilt to the left or right can be a weight difference of twenty pounds or more.

This past Saturday I went for a run on the Olmstead Loop Trail in Auburn California.   The trail is just short of 9 miles and is a favorite trail for horse and rider.   During my run, in the distance I noticed a man on a Arabian who had pulled off the main trail to check his phone.  The horse was positioned  with his left side downhill and his right side up.  The man was no better and soon the horse began to side pass down the hill so he didn’t fall over.  The man picked up his reigns and guided the horse back to where he wanted him.  Again in the same position of nearly falling over the horse began to side pass down the hill.  It was clear to me that the owner thought his horse was just being disobedient , he didn’t get that he was putting the horse in a bad position then aggravating it by leaning to the downhill side as he looked at his phone.

Finally he turned the horse so his front was uphill and his back was downhill, I passed the two of them before I could see if the horse backed up or not.   After my run I sat on the damp grass that was covered with Lady Bugs to stretch.  A woman who by my estimate was around 225 pounds was sitting on Arabian.  As she approached I watched her horse fall of the open field and off the path.  She stopped him, then started again and he fell to the left with each stride.  As she approached I could tell her weight was on her left, when stopped to greet us she turned her body to the right and suddenly her horse was walking straight.   I realized that as she continued on she didn’t get it—she continued stop and start her horse—it was going to be a long 9 miles for both of them.

1 comment:

  1. Weight distribution is a common problem for riders. Many riders look elegant and balanced on the back of their horses. However, if they would pull out two bathroom scales and place a foot on each one they can easily see how one leg or the other may be carrying more weight. In fact, a slight bit of pressure on one foot can create twenty to fifty pounds of weight difference! Out-of-balance riders sometime complain that their horse wanders to the right or to the left and pull and push the horse the other direction to force straightness. The horse is only trying to equalize the rider’s weight! Most of us naturally carry our weight more on one leg than the other. It is up to us to learn how to keep our weight evenly distributed when we ride. Once we learn how to do this we can ask our horse to move this way and that simply by redistributing our weight.