Friday, March 4, 2011

11th Hour Breakthroughs

Delphi had her annual teeth float done yesterday by her veterinarian Dr. Michael Davis. Added to that, today was my fourth ride trying a new bit: a straight bar egg butt snaffle with natural rubber wrapped over the bar at each outside edge.

After the first 20 minutes of the lesson grinded by and I still had not managed to get my horse on the bit, I was beginning to feel frustrated. Karen, knowing that I've been working on raising Delphi's neck Jeff Moore style, noted that I am simply "posing" Delphi's neck and not really ever getting her back up or getting her through the aids. Karen asked me to abandon for the moment raising the neck and having only a tenuous on the bit connection and focus for the time on allowing Delphi to relax her neck by riding her deep and what would seem to me over-round or "behind the vertical."

My breakthrough moment finally arrived only after Karen got on Delphi for a show and tell session: Karen kept Delphi's neck lower and her frame rounder. When I got back on, it occurred to me that while my elbows are nicely down as they should be, my hands are too far up and far too busy. By keeping my elbows down and my wrists set in a straight line to the bit (to me it felt as though my elbows were straight though they certainly were not) with my hands low and quiet, I was able to keep Delphi's head lower and relaxed in a deeper, rounder frame (read reliably on the bit). To add more impulsion I simply spring quicker and higher, thus activating the back-as-sensory-organ thereby improving collection, suppleness, throughness, balance and self carriage: all prerequisites to second level.

The straight bar egg butt snaffle bit? Karen told me that while occasionally trying different bits can indeed be beneficial, for now go ahead and put the bit back in the ol' tack trunk and go back to riding in my reliable, if plain, loose ring snaffle.

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