Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Friend, The Inspiration....or Slave Driver.....

Ahh, yes - this blog must be opened with an introduction of praise (and perhaps mild resentment....) to my dear friend Robyn, who decided to set an ambitious goal for Lent this year.  She vowed to give up her stirrups for the next 40 days.  You can check out her blog post detailing her goal here.

I applauded her, meanwhile thinking that I was a lazy schlub for not committing to do something of a similar nature.  Well, lo and behold, she suckered me in.  We showed up at the barn last night, and sure enough, she tacked up and cast her stirrups aside. 

I watched her going around on her big warmblood gelding, working so hard to sit his HUGE trot, and shook my head in appreciation of her determined nature.  Finally, I said screw it - I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Now, my first problem with the entire affair is the fact that A) I am shorter; B) a tad bit chunkier; and C) FAR more uncoordinated.  The thought of mounting my mare without stirrups, even with a mounting block, is beyond me at this point.  So I did "cheat" and used my stirrups to get on and warmup before I decide to fully commit. 

Off came the stirrups.  Let's start the insanity.

Surprisingly, it went far better than I would have expected.  I had initially boycotted the entire idea, being worried that I might revert to old habits of rotating back on my butt which drives my mare extremely forward.  Amazingly enough, she was soft, supple, and beyond tolerant.  As a result, I was able to sit properly and absorb a fairly easy trot to sit, since she was using her back correctly, for the most part. 

I discovered several things throughout the ride.  A) My tendency to have what Robyn calls "linebacker arms" seemed to fade away while sitting the trot.  Ironically, everything becomes so much softer when I am not posting.  B) The only time I rolled off of my seatbones and onto my butt was towards the end of my ride, when I was tired, sloppy, and starting to fall apart.  Note to self: figure out what it is about posting that causes me to shift that around....I am going to do some experimenting with stirrup length.  So overall, I think there are many positives to be absorbed through this experiment of casting the stirrups aside.  So I am joining Robyn in her quest (or kamikaze mission, we'll see which....) to abandon the stirrups.

In other news, I rode Jonah again last night.  I am doing 15-20 minute rides on him for the first week or so, and we will start increasing it as he gets fit.  However, I couldn't resist hopping him over a tiny crossrail a time or two.  What a joy he is to jump!  He hops it like nothing, and canters off with the smoothest canter.  He has been the little sparkplug to getting me back into the swing of regular riding, and I am truly enjoying him.  I am thinking we might have to pick a show to take him to in March sometime if he keeps progressing this way.  He is going to be a little rockstar!!!