One of my main goals for 2011 is to become an effective rider. This is something that I am finding to be very difficult. I have ridden for many years and have considered myself a "good" rider. But....I am now seeing so many things I do wrong. Riding well takes consistent effort, not zoning out or going on auto pilot. I am very blessed to have found an amazing instructor to help me to become better. I have been given the opportunity to ride some lovely horses and I am really looking forward to seeing where I end up at the end of the year. Hopefully I will be much more effective in my riding.
One of the main things I am learning (and being told :) is that your position is a HUGE part of your riding. Often I have felt like my horse just wasn't working with me but in reality I am in their way! How frustrating that must be to have someone asking you to do something you don't understand how to do anyway, and then having them get in your way or not being there to assist you. I had a really clear example of this last week when I was riding Pie. I have struggled to get his left lead and that night was no different. He picked up the incorrect one several times before I settled him back into the trot and tried to think about how I could "fix" it. One of the things I thought about was how in my lesson I needed to really be bringing my body around the circle to the left. I changed just a small part in my position, asked for the canter and guess what!?! He got the left lead! I only tried it once because I didn't want to get in a fight if he didn't get it again. The next day I was riding him, thought about my position, asked for the canter and again he got the left lead for me. All of this time we have been struggling and if I would have just been riding him better he would have been fine. Poor boy.
I am going to be down a riding horse with in the next week, and I really plan to use this time to ride some schooled horses who can help me become a better rider with a more effective position. I need to work on riding in a shoulder-in feel, asking the inside hind to be stepping underneath and riding into my outside rein. It's amazing how great things feel when I can get it all together. I am also hopeful this will pay off when I begin to ride Roxy again. She is VERY easily frustrated and can imagine she will go better when I give her fewer mixed signals. The good thing is that riding is really a journey and I have many years to improve my riding. I would say I am better now than I was a couple years ago, and better then than I was before that. I just need to keep moving in the forward direction. :)