I just came across this wonderful post on Confident Horsemanship – The Blog: A Simple Exercise to Improve Your Riding Position, Balance and Confidence.
It talks about riders being soft and supple, which allows the horse to do the same. In the post, the author mentions that by correcting a rider’s position, horses that have been “high headed, braced, [and] short stepping” will become level, relax and lengthen their strides. I’ve been having this issue with Husky lately, just at the trot. He’s soft and supple at the walk and pretty good at the canter, but his trot has been short and stiff.
As per usual, it’s probably the rider (a.k.a. me) causing the issue without even being aware of it. I’m probably just as tense and stiff as Husky, which could be making him move that way. Tonight I’m going to pay close attention to what I might be doing to cause Husky’s hollow, stiff trot. Am I clenching my legs? Are my shoulders or elbows tense? How am I posting? What is my hip angle like? Is my lower back relaxed?
I think I will try a little half-seat as well as was recommended in the Confident Horsemanship post. It’s super hot today and we are supposed to be doing cross country jumping so we’ll see how much I’ll be able to work on this. I don’t want to work him too hard in the warm-up since it’s so hot and we’ll likely be working kind of hard anyway. But we’ll see if it starts making a difference, and I’ll certainly be keeping it in mind moving forward.
What strategies have you found works for helping your horse relax? Have you tried any rider-focused exercises to help you relax, and has that made a difference in your horse?