This was the final meeting before our first club level testing. Our members practiced basic balanced position, jumping position, bending, walking and trotting over ground poles, and some even did a simple course using cavaletti. Unfortunately, we had to quit riding early due to the weather. Luckily our Pony Club Parents are awesome. The parents took care of the horses and the members got some extra horse management practice in. We went over each section of the D-1 Checklist and I'm sure the girls are going to do great at the testing on Saturday.
The girls practiced more with 2-point position, basic balanced position, and bending. We also played a little relay game so they could get a taste of how the Mounted Games are played in Pony Club.
We split into 2 groups. The younger girls got to practice and test each other on some of the Horse Management material to help prepare for their D-1 testing. The older girls got go experience going through an actual jump course using cavalletti.
Homework was to continue to practice bending.
When a horse is traveling straight and balanced (like Horse B), we want our aids to remain even on both sides so that we, as riders, do not interfere and cause the horse to travel crooked. Bending is a term we use to ask a horse to be straight (balanced) when on a curve. This means that the horse's spine follows the curve. Sometime this is referred to as lateral flexion.
To ask your horse to bend to the left (just like Horse A) follow these tips.
Your hips should be inline with the horse's hips, and your shoulders and hands inline with the horse's shoulders.
Your inside leg (left leg) should be at the girth, and your outside leg (right leg) just a little bit behind the girth. Think of the inside leg as a pole that the horse is bending around. It controls the shoulders so that the horse doesn't become unbalanced and drop his shoulder to the inside. The outside leg controls the hauches. It doesn't allow the haunches to swing out and instead keeps them on the circle.
With your elbows at your side, twist your torso slightly to allow your shoulders to turn with the circle and allow you to see where you are going. This will position your hands so that the inside hand (left hand) is slightly behind the other. If you pull too much with the inside hand, then only the neck will bend and not the spine. When only the neck is bent, it is easy for the horse to evade your aids and not turn at all. Think about steering his withers instead of his nose. Notice how we are not pulling the horse's nose around, instead we are guiding his entire body.
Your seat moves in rhythm with the horses gate, whether at the walk, trot, or canter.
To ask your horse to bend to the right (just like Horse C) switch sides. Your right leg and hand are now the inside aids, and your left leg and hand are the outside aids.
Remember, carrying a rider is not something a horse automatically knows how to do. Whether in the show ring or on the trail, It is the rider's job to help him stay balanced. Once you and your horse are balanced and straight (actually traveling a straight line or an arc) you will be able to ask for more advanced movements and your horse will be prepared to perform them.
We had a great meeting. Five riders learned about using their inside leg to ask their horses to bend. We learned how to ride a small circle (10 meters) and use your inside leg to gradually push the horse to a larger and larger circle by spiraling back out to a 20 meter circle. We rode a pattern called a serpentine to work even more on bending. Then we set up the cavaletti for trot and canter work.
Homework was to ride patterns around cones, poles, or on the trail and ask your horse to bend. Working more on steering the horses with your legs than with your hands.