I had a revelation last night while working Mocha and musing about both G and husband’s comments about our reining performance. G said that we had the best control at speed, and DH said we looked totally natural, a horse running because she wanted to run and the rider flowing with her, directing her. Plus there was the barn rat whose comment after our first run was “Day-UM. You two were smoking out there.”
I have no idea what it looked like, myself. No pictures, no video, at least to my knowledge. I know what it felt like to ride those runs, and we were going fast enough for my well-fitted felt cowboy hat to wobble (which takes some doing, it’s a very snug fit. Don’t usually have that problem with the show hat).
But I had to wonder–just how did I get to the point where I could ride fast with that degree of control? Even up to about six months ago, fast galloping was best done in two-point for my balance.
And then I figured it out. Skiing, in particular, developing the skill and confidence to take on challenging and steep runs, as well as skiing fast (relatively fast, for me). Before I skied, I had a fairly common problem with riding circles at speed–I’d lean in a little (a phenomenon known as motorcycling/motorbiking in the horse world and frowned upon). That puts both horse and rider off balance. When I started the baby schooling working Mocha at speed about six months ago, I started automatically and smoothly shifting my weight to my outside stirrup and my outside seatbone. It felt like second nature and it contributed to the ability to run faster with better balance. Mocha responded eagerly and I found I could direct and control her better.
So where did I learn that? Working my way down Palmer and some other steep slopes. Effective turning in those circumstances means weighting the outside ski and edge, then shifting quickly and smoothly to the opposing edge. My balance was more forward, more hunt seat than Western, but this past year I started working on skiing a bit more upright due to back issues, while still maintaining the correct balance. And, on the steeper slopes, leaning into the hill is a no-no because then the skis slide out from under you.
Interesting. Improving my ski balance also helped improve my riding work.
I love it when a plan comes together, even though this one really wasn’t planned.
And now, if it would only snow……