I signed up for the Ride-A-Test clinic for the BN A test and then a second round of BN A after the clinic session.
I initially got on at the same time as my husband because we were only two people apart, but I forgot about the whole 20 minutes each thing so I ended up being on an hour early. I took Levi back to the trailer to hang out while I watched my husband’s round and then returned to the warm up. Warm up was in the indoor and we were accompanied by a pair of owls.
Then it was time to go.
I thought it was an okay test. Not great, but certainly better than a lot of dressage tests we’ve done.
The judge asked what I thought was good and what was bad and I said I was happy about getting the correct leads even if the transitions weren’t pretty. She said the transitions weren’t that bad. When I relayed this to my husband later, he told me they really weren’t that bad and I need to stop being so hard on myself and on Levi. But the thing is, I have photographic proof of how bad our transitions are.
Seriously though, I never believe anyone when they say a ride went well. Kate and my husband constantly try to tell me a test wasn’t that bad and then I watch the video and I’m like, OMG what is this horror show?
Anyway… For the bad part, I said we were very wiggly and the judge agreed. Coming as a surprise to absolutely no one, that wiggliness is all my fault. The judge had me walk around for a bit while she directed me in how to change my position. I ride with my legs too far forward and with too much weight in the stirrups.
The chair seat thing is not at all a new revelation. I’ve been over this a few times with Kate, but it’s nearly impossible for me to get my knee and thigh on the saddle and have my lower leg on the horse as well. I need a saddle that actually fits me. As we went around in the circle with the judge constantly correcting me to move my right leg further back and lift it even more out of the stirrup, I could feel the change in Levi.
It’s almost like riding correctly influences the way your horse goes… Shocking. As we moved in to trot, one thing that really helped me was her advice to post like I was riding without stirrups. I was like, oh, I can do that. Of course, I kept reverting to weighting my stirrup, but the thought certainly helped.
While I could feel that Levi was moving better, I was really struggling to sit on the correct part of the saddle. Trying to push my lower leg back was tilting me forward and I was posting on the pommel of the saddle.
I stopped to talk to the judge about it and she recommended raising my right stirrup. Levi has wildly uneven shoulders and I struggle with feeling like my stirrups are uneven if they are even. After the clinic session I tried raising just the right stirrup and it was too uneven so I ended up raising both of them.
After the discussion about sitting on the front of the saddle, she had me go back out and work more on posting bigger. I forget her exact wording, but it was something about how Levi moves so well that I need to ride better. You can’t be a bad rider on such a good horse.
I returned to the ring in a few rides to redo the test. I tried to concentrate on keeping my right leg back and weighting my thighs instead of my stirrups. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was much straighter.
We didn’t improve as dramatically as my husband, but our score for the second test was three points higher. I need to work more on that whole right leg thing.
I really enjoyed this show format and would do it again. I think Kate really enjoyed having another person tell me to do the same thing she’s been telling me to do for a while now. Maybe one day I’ll actually improve.
I had that struggle for years with Irish. I thought I sucked at riding. Then a clinician told me that my saddle didn’t fit me and 8 bit the bullet and bought a new one. OMG the difference that it was made was miraculous. It was easy to put m6 legs where they belonged and I wasn’t fighting the saddle anymore.
Honestly- you should do it, it will be less frustrating for you both.
I’ve actually gone through about 8 different dressage saddle trials. I have yet to find anything that works for me. Now I am looking at custom saddles.
I kinda love biomechanics lessons – that’s definitely one of the areas where hearing the same thing said slightly differently can set off a light bulb moment. Sounds like a good time!
Exactly. It was really helpful.
Really love this format. Sounds like some helpful advice too! I think you’re fighting against your saddle quite a bit. Now that hubs has a fancy custom dressage saddle, your turn should be next!
I am actually work on the saddle issue. We’ll see if it helps.
Trust issues…I have them also. Because Husband doesn’t know what he’s looking at and always tells us we look great.
At least your husband has an excuse of not knowing. Mine is just trying to be nice to me. But I don’t want the nice comments.
I’ve had trouble with my leg being too far forward too. One tip that really helped me break through that was to think about kneeling. Odd, I know, but it worked for me & might be worth playing around with.
I’ve heard this advice before and it helps a bit, but I still tend to revert back to chair seat the second I have to think about anything else.
Saddle fit is such a PITA. Hoping you get it squared away.
Thanks. Me too.
Fighting against a saddle is seriously the worst. I’m 6 feet tall and have crammed my giant long body into so many tiny saddles that did not remotely fit me. I hope you have some luck with going custom! (I noticed above that you were going that route) I’ve been really happy with my Equipe, not sure which brands you are focusing on 🙂
I’m not that tall (5’8″) but the real problem is my thigh bone is much longer than my calf so even bigger saddles don’t help as I just end up in a chair seat. I need to find a forward flapped dressage saddle. Hopefully the one I’ve ordered will work.
Sounds like a great show/clinic thing! I wish I was still in the area because that would have been super fun, TC loves that facility.
It’s a great facility. The boys both really liked it and we got to watch Grand Prix and upper level western dressage after our tests so it was a good day all around.
Biomechanics stuff is the greatest and the worst all rolled into one. I hope you can find a saddle that fits you well in the near future – I can’t imagine how hard it must be fighting position in a saddle that fights you back.