Kathy made my day today! During a break in her lesson she told me she’s taken up walking at the mall. Today she walked two miles. More importantly, she confided, “I kept thinking about what we’ve been practicing in our riding lessons. I keep reminding myself to breathe, and put on my cloak!”
For people who are visual learners, I use a lot of imagery in my explanations. “Wearing the cloak” is one of my favorite and most effective visualizations to bring riders’ shoulders back into a supple but strong posture (exactly the opposite of how most of us march through our days!)
I ask the rider to picture the cloak clearly. What color is it? What kind of fabric is made out of? does it reach to your saddle or stream along your horse’s back and hindquarters? Now, as you ride forward, feel how it flows and billows behind you in the wind. The more senses you can involve in your visualization, the more effective the results. Go ahead! Try it Now!
Kathy realized that practicing good horsemanship doesn’t always require a horse. Good horsemanship requires acute body awareness and control. You can hone your awareness and improve that control while walking, driving, standing in line… where ever!
The habits that you carry on the ground carry over into the saddle. The silver lining in that cloud is that breakthroughs from the ground bring breakthroughs from the saddle.
As you walk the malls in search of the perfect gifts this season, I encourage you to seek your own breakthroughs!
Comment below and share your experiences–we love to hear from you!
The key to natural horsemanship and balanced seat riding is to be able to freely balance and control your various body parts. A saddle can make that easy… or downright impossible.
A saddler once measured my femurs and discovered they were 2 inches longer than they should be for a person of my height. That explains a lot of my personal riding challenges. It also makes it tough to find a saddle that actually fits me!
I’ve decided to clean out the tackroom and sell saddles I’ve accumulated trying to find ones that fit me or a particular horse. Each one is good for balanced seat riding in English disciplines. I know that they will be a a vital part of someone else’s harmony and success with their horses!
Are you looking for a new used saddle to take you and your horse to the next level? Read the following posts. I may have a saddle for sale that will fit your needs and your horse! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section. As always, I’m committed to win-win-win situations where you, me and the horse all come away happy!
Today’s horse training success story came in a trilogy. No small wonder, God kinda favors threes 🙂
Got the kind of call midday every trainer dreams of: “you probably don’t remember me but…” “Of COURSE I remember you, you’re Cassidy’s dad!” Cassidy was our first student when we incorporated KinderRide into our lesson program: offering horseback riding instruction to the 2-4 year olds as a preamble to our “big kid’s” program. Cassidy progressed on through the Big Kid program until we sold the farm and went our disparate ways. Cassidy’s dad tracked us down via Google. Turned out Cassidy had just won the National Junior Morgan Dressage Championship. And it turns out that my mom, who was Cassidy’s first leadline instructor, was visitiing and out on the tractor at that very moment. Congratulations Cassidy! All the best of luck at World’s this fall!
Part two: a typo in the Valley Trader had us calling on a 4 month old colt. Turns out he is the son of a mare I fell in love with while training many years ago on a Friesian farm in VA. I’m still under the spell of that electric shock. More to follow….
Last and most…. They say to find the answer you need to ask a question three times. Long after Mom and I should have gone to sleep I was pestering her with questions. We were talking about the Thoroughbred Rescue Foundation, a charity near and dear to both of our hearts. We’ve both volunteered time and skills. Mom was multi day a week regular for several years.
It came out that several years ago she had fallen in love with Lake, whom everyone claimed was incorrigable, yet he pressed his face deep against her belly for comfort in the face of vets and chiropracters and Things That Go Bump In The Night. Shortly after that, he had been returned to the prison sytem, because no-one wanted to adopt him. “Mom,” I told her, “if you love him, find him! We’ll bring him home”
She went to sleep, I hopped in the shower. A while later she showed up with the look of a kid at Christmas. “Did you mean it? I’m gonna look for him, I’m gonna find him!”
And when you do, he’s gonna have a happily ever after home in Almost Heaven….
Like any young horse in training, Wally the Warmblood has his good days. He has his not-so-good days and he has those frustrating, tear-out-your-hair days when he seems to forget how to put one foot in front of the other, much less do so with suppleness, impulsion and cheerful submission.
Today was like no other. It had been a knock-down drag-out day full of time-consuming roadblocks and way too many balls in the air. And that was just in the office! Wally was the last horse of the evening after working through a particularly tough trailer loading session with a two year-old.
Wally was matter-of-fact from the get-go. Quiet brilliance. Stood like a rock while I mounted. Warm-up. Focus. Turn on the forehand– rhythmic and accurate. Turn on the haunches–ditto. Up into a round, light trot, every step a lesson in newly-developed power controlled not by the rider’s seat or legs or bit but by the horse’s own understanding and desire. Canter balanced, regular, even on that troublesome lead. All the movements and principles we’ve been developing coming together in a moment almost outside time.
Nothing left but to ride out to join the sunset in the spring blooming woods with deep gratitude for the gifts our horses give us.
Spring has sprung, the daffodils tell us. The horses agree as they gaze out over the hayfields that are growing so fast you can hear it. Riders’ thoughts are turning to, well, riding, and the increased freedom encouraged by good footing, beautiful weather and woods exploding back into life.
Several of our boarders have new horses, and some of the horses have new riders. Saddle selection and fit is a hot topic of conversation. Natural horse trainers know that comfort and safety supersize performance. A saddle doesn’t need to be expensive, but a saddle that fits both horse and rider AND is built and balanced for the job or sport intended is key to success.
One boarder is looking at Big Horn synthetic saddles. She likes the light weight and the additional suede coverage on the seat and jockeys. The balanced design and extra “stick-um” are perfect for her kids that are new to horsemanship. The affordable price tag is also attractive, especially since The Horse Saddle Shop offers free shipping on top of their low prices and amazing customer service!
An invisible barrier seems to exist in people’s minds between competitive and natural horsemanship. Natural horse trainers shatter that myth with increasing frequency in the worlds of dressage, reining, eventing, hunter-jumpers, and others.
Natural horse trainer Stacy Westfall rocked the house with her winning bridleless freestyle run at Quarter Horse Congress in 2006. This video is an amazing testimony to the power of communication at the pinnacle of competition!
I bought this saddle this summer and after just a handful of rides realized the flaps are just too short for my looooong legs. Remember that post about femurs 2 inches too long? So this wonderful, lightly used dressage saddle is for sale.
I was really disappointed because the Wintec Isabell has some incredible features you just can’t find in most common, affordable saddles. My favorite features include:
The set back stirrup bar to allow your leg to go where it needs to be for an effortless effective seat (unfortunately for me my legs don’t fit it!)
The Y-girthing system to balance the saddle and distribute weight more evenly
The fLeXiBiLiTy offered by the interchangeable gullet system (vital when developing horses to their fullest potential)
Heads up all you natural hunter-jumper riders! This is a wonderful, classic style Crosby Prix des Nations close contact saddle. It is a 17 1/2 inch seat with a long flap and wide tree. I bought it used. It still has a nameplate from a previous owner on the back. You can easily remove it– replace it with your own!
This saddle has been well used and well cared for. It shows the wear and underside colorations typical of a used saddle. All marks are cosmetic and consistent with the saddle being used.
The leather is in good repair and the stitching is sound. The billets were replaced by the previous owner. The one exception is the right sweat flap has come away from the saddle flap, as shown in the photo. This is not a stress point and doesn’t affect the use of the saddle. This has happened with just about every Crosby I have come across.
The Crosby Pris des Nations is well balanced and gives an amazingly close feel of your horse, making it ideal for English natural horsemanship and jumping. It’s the next best thing to bareback…with the benefits of stirrups! It has set the standard in the show ring for decades.