The past week I’ve been soaking/ wrapping my daughter’s foot (infected from a splinter), caring for seven foster kittens and spending a lot of time in the office. When I finally found a few hours to make it out to the barn, I didn’t have the energy to try any of the training tips or exercises in this month’s issue, usually one of my favorite things to do.
Trotting around on my horse, though, I recalled something grand prix rider Callan Solem told riders in a clinic (page 42). She shared with them a four-point list she reviews every time she rides. One point is to check her position. Overall, I think my position is pretty good, but as I rode, I realized an old habit of letting my shoulders creep forward had set in again. I brought them back and felt the ripple effect—my seat became more anchored and I sunk the weight farther into my heels. A bonus—I’ve been able to practice bringing my shoulders back even when not on my horse—at the computer, in the car, (though admittedly not when I’ve been searching under the bed for a misplaced kitten!).
The experience with my position made me think about the other articles in this issue—they are filled with simple tips and exercises. But don’t let the idea that something is simple fool you—if you focus on the exercises and advice our experts give, your riding will improve.
In addition to Callan’s article, Canadian grand prix jumper rider Elizabeth Gingras shares an exercise to help you develop the right canter on course: riding two cavalletti or ground poles in a line and adding and subtracting strides in each pass (page 28). Though simple, the exercise “mentally and physically engages both horse and rider by continually challenging you to adjust the canter in different ways,” Elizabeth says.
In his column, Jim Wofford offers four tips to improve your timing to a jump (page 16). Three of them are pretty straightforward: look at the jump, ride a steady rhythm and use gymnastics. (Interestingly he and Callan have a slightly different approach to help you feel a steady rhythm. Let us know which one works for you.)
So if you’re like me and find that life keeps you out of the saddle more than you’d like, focus on simple—commit to checking your position, cantering two cavalletti or looking at the jump. In other words, celebrate simple.