Friday, April 10, 2015

Sit Like a Soup Sandwich

At least my hair was tucked up in a hairnet and I had a belt on.
  I've always been told to not ride like a sack of potatoes, to be long and tall, to hold my body up and equitate. But sometimes sitting like a soup sandwich isn't a bad thing. I rode McKenna for the first time in over a week last night and my goal for the ride was for both of us to stay as relaxed as possible.

Thankfully my chiro was able to come out on Monday and adjust the mare.  I was at work, but from the note she left me McKenna was pretty sore on the whole left side of her body.  Her poll, neck, and hips were dropped left and out. Tuesday we got new sand in the indoor, so I just turned McKenna out to run around.  Wednesday I just lunged her because I had forgotten the western trainer was coming out to the barn to do lesson and ran out of time to ride.  So after having 9 days off I was worried I'd have an explosive pony to deal with.

Or possibly light my horse's ass on fire
We started with lots of circles, loops, figure 8s at the walk.  When we picked up the trot I would only do a circle or two, or just go down the long side, before coming back to the walk.  Just enough to let the mare stretch out, but not enough for her to build up some steam.  So we did lots of transitions, with some halts thrown in for good measure.  Eventually I started asking for more trot, more bend, more flexion.  It was here that she started to get tense and strong and I felt myself get tenser with my body.  Once I made the conscious decision to relax, so did she.
What "not" to do

As long as I pretended I couldn't ride, or rode like a soup sandwich, McKenna stayed relaxed and quiet.  But as soon as I tried to equitate, or got stiff and unfollowing with my body, her head would shoot up and she'd get stiff and strong.  It was weird to think about doing the opposite of what I "should" be doing, but we had a nice 25 minute walk-trot ride where she didn't get explosive or try to drag my arms out of their sockets.  We even had moments where she was stretching down and seeking the contact.  I think my problem is that I get so focused on getting her round, having my shoulders back, heels down, chin up, soft hands and elbows....I forget about actually riding my horse and doing what she needs. Sometimes both riders and horses just need a super relaxed, go with the flow ride. My plan for today is going to be the same and we'll see if we can continue this into our canter work.
McKenna's more interested in eating the phone than taking selfies


  1. I have gotten everyone in my grad program on board with Soup Sandwich, We regularly critique each others work with his. "I really love the action in this scene, but the background is a Soup Sandwich!"

  2. I can totally relate to getting worse the more I try to be better - what is with that btw?!
    Totally counter-intuitive/productive...silly body *sigh*

    Glad McKenna is feeling better and hope you've awesome rides over the weekend!

  3. interesting!! i definitely get tense when i try to sit more 'properly' - probably has to do with muscle memory and all that nonsense ugh... glad you got a good ride out of the 'soup sandwich' idea tho haha!