Tag Archives: lesson

Lesson: Mobilising the jaw, poll and neck

Lesson day! Both my trusty photographer and videographer were unavailable this morning, one of them is sunning herself somewhere hot! Therefore you’ll have to do with a dodgy selfie and Raven’s first attempt at a photobomb!

Today we discussed how Saf’s default setting is a rather immobile jaw, poll and neck. This has a knock on effect down her body, giving a general stiff, stilted feel in the walk. I now need to do something about her stiffness and not be afraid to pick up my reins. As with everything riding, it’s a matter of co-ordination and timing. I need to use my outside rein to check her neck is straight, then my inside rein with an ‘opening’ feel to ask her to mobilise her jaw.

This sounds so simple when written down but I can assure that it took the whole lesson for me to combine these two simple tasks. I mustn’t give away the outside rein at the same time that my inside rein is asking for jaw mobility, but then I need to reward her when I feel her relaxing her jaw. Of course, never ever get her into a position and just hold on! ๐Ÿ˜€ As always the proof is in the pudding, and Saf felt looser and more springy when we achieved this elusive mobile jaw. Remind me again why the fashion is to strap the jaws shut with a tight noseband? I don’t get it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Another fascinating lesson, thanks Max. Can’t wait to get schooling next week and get working on this.



Lesson – Relax those hips!

Scorchio lesson on Saturday morning. Spent today working on keeping my upper legs and hips loose and ‘off’. I need to allow Saf room to lift her back and she can’t do this if I’m squeezing her! I think I got a good feel for this so will try be aware of what’s going on there. We did a bit of work in canter as well, which felt lovely, I’m really learning to love Saf’s canter, which I never thought I’d do. Concentrating on keeping my hips and thighs relaxed is particularly important at this point, especially given that I tend to squeeze her if I feel she’s slowing down as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

I need to just ask Saf to do something, and then let her do the work. I’m too much of a ‘doer’ and end up doing more work than her and stifling her.


Lesson: Rising trot & canter position

Another great lesson last weekend! Worked on a few different things, starting with getting my legs more under by centre of gravity. I still have the annoying chair seat which keeps cropping up, so more revision required. You can see how it’s supposed to look in the first photo. I also had a ‘thing’ where my foot and hand on the same side, seem to get attracted to each other, so concentrating on trying to push them apart. This sorted, I got some much needed help with my rising trot.

We’ve done a lot of work sitting, but I have been frustrated by my rising trot for a while. I always had the feeling that my rise was wrong, and when I sat I was unbalanced and behind. As such, I felt like I was constantly fighting to keep up with Saf. Max had me keeping my heels further back, rising from my knees and coming further forward over the pommel. This helped tremendously and I’ve never felt a rising trot like it.

We then went on to canter. I used to get quite hunched forward in the canter, then found my core and sat back. In doing this I went too far the other way and tended to get left behind (you can see this in the first canter photos). So, more adjustment keeping my legs under my centre of gravity again, which puts me in a more balanced position. 20m circles, half trot, half canter, repeat, repeat, repeat ๐Ÿ™‚

Finished with a little trot maintaining softness and inside bend. I was shattered! Saf seems totally fine haha! Lots to take in and digest ๐Ÿ™‚

‘On the aids’ lesson

Super lesson with Max on Saturday and look, I think Spring has arrived!

Today we did a few adjustments to my position, working on sitting on my backside a bit more as I’m still a bit prone to tipping forwards (better than before though!) and also need to make sure I don’t stretch my front line and arch my back.

These niggles rectified, we focused today on getting Saf to soften over her topline and become more ‘on the aids’. As you will have seen over the years, Saf tends to fix her neck, poll and jaw. Now is the time to ask her to release, something I must ask from my elbows and shoulders, whilst ensuring my wrists stay soft. As you can see we got there in the end ๐Ÿ™‚ย Lots of 10m circles with changes of direction up the arena. I need to keep moving myself and not staying still, as Saf gets basically ‘rusty’ so it’s a contant process asking her to stay soft. As ever, the mantra ‘every step you ride is a step you train’ is ringing in my ears! From now on we either have ‘Saf’s rein’ i.e on the buckle, or ‘my rein’ when I pick them up and she needs to be on the aids.

“She doesn’t look like an ‘old lady’ now does she?” Haha, err, no! Must stop worrying about Saf’s age!

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Beginning to go a bit sideways…

Been looking forward to another lesson with Max all week. Saf has been a sweetheart and worked really hard all week putting up with me experimenting with one thing or another. I really wanted to clarify in this lesson how my seat should be feeling in the saddle. I have gone from knowing very little about weight aids, to understanding (kind of) the feeling on sitting across the saddle, a feeling of being central. At the same time a ‘weight aid’ is not as simple as piling a load of weight onto my right seatbone to turn right, and vice versa for left. I cannot simply weight the desired seatbone and abandon the other one. My outside leg is now further behind the girth than I am used to, so that’s taking some thinking about. I can ask for inside flexion with the rein, but mustn’t be tempted to raise my hand and hold it there.

Excitingly, I am now at the stage where we can start getting a feel of lateral work. Max had me coordinating my legs, seat and rein aids and swapping from inside bend to shoulder-out (counter shoulder-in) on the left rein and shoulder-in and haunches in on the right rein. Non-horsey folk, I will try to explain these movements when I get a chance, but suffice to say they are effective suppling exercises designed to stretch out Saf’s contracted left side. I have to say that this part really was good fun, I’m itching to get back on board and have another play! Must be more aware of Saf’s posture though, and ensure she is standing straight and evenly before attempting to move off, plus watch out for her shoulders drifting left when on the right rein (that pesky right handedness!)

Loads more photosย hereย ๐Ÿ™‚

Emma & Saf x




Lesson time!

First lesson with Max in months! I very nearly cancelled it last week as I had the worst flu ever and could barely get out of bed for 3 days. Thankfully I started to feel better on Thursday and was rudely awoken this morning by my alarm. I still wasn’t 100% but Saf was a sweetheart and looked after me. She has only been schooled once since last year so it must have been a bit of a shock for her too.

We took it easy working in walk to start, it took a while for my brain to get into gear. Eventually I managed to grasp the concept of weight aids for circles, and how I need to use my seat first and foremost, then once the shoulders are aligned with the hindlegs, I am allowed to ask for neck bend by raising my inside hand slightly. Having sorted the lateral (left and right bending of the spine and neck) and topline (raising the head and hollowing her back) evasions, Saf’s next trick is the speed evasion, in this case slowing down when she finds something difficult. This was easily remedied was some taps with the leg. She was generally up for anything really, which surprised me as she has been practically untouched by human hand for over a week and thought she’d reverted to her wild status!

Hopefully I’ll be a bit more with it next time! Thanks Claire for the photos.


My unforgettable lesson with Sylvia Loch

Well, I don’t know where to start! We’ve both been fans of Sylvia Loch for a good few years now, have her books, DVD’s etc. At the time she was based on the Scottish Borders, so we couldn’t believe our luck when she moved to Suffolk!

Mum, Dad and Claire very kindly bought me a lesson on Sylvia’s Lusitano schoolmaster, Prazer, for my 30th which I can’t thank them all enough for! I’ve been fretting for the past week that I wouldn’t be good enough to ride such a fantastic horse but Sylvia was so welcoming and Prazer, a complete gentleman.

We started in walk while I got my bearings on some 20m(ish) circles. I can’t really describe the feeling of riding such a refined horse, the slightest incorrect aid, or my using too much leg, or not enough, and the circle would be an egg. Prazer, being the gentleman, took my amatuerishness (is that a word?!) with good grace, poor boy, and just responded with what he though I was asking him to do. We did a some turn-on-the-haunches, where I would put a little more weight in my inside stirrup and he turned as if by magic (that’s what he felt like!)

Up to trot, which Sylvia commented, was better than my walk, and we made some circles bigger and smaller with weight aids. I was even allowed a canter, in which the power was something I’ve never felt before. The moments before the canter depart felt like a spring coiling up and then off we went – heavenly! I could do that all day! I floated back down from cloud nine and we did a little work on shoulder-in in walk, then then in trot, and I’m happy to report that I think what I’d done with shoulder-in with Saf was on the right lines and it felt kind of similar.

Lastly we did some trot serpentines, which are incredibly difficult and we wobbled along a bit due to rider error but a good learning experience ๐Ÿ™‚ย And to finish we managed a few steps of passage, which was magical (I’m still grinning!)

I’m still in a dream-like state and keep saying to everyone that I can’t believe what just happened haha! Sylvia is an amazing teacher and explains everything so well. I will definitely be back for more! Oh and Claire now wants a Lusitano for her next horse!