Ever since the fiance’s first time in the saddle last week (an upcoming post, I promise) I have spent every spare moment reading and researching how best to begin teaching a new rider. Having started horseback riding lessons at the age of 8, after many trail ride adventures and trips to my aunt’s farm, it’s difficult to remember what exactly I was told when first learning how to ride. As far as I’m concerned, children have a much more willing attitude towards their interests, and far fewer questions. When my coach told me how to balance and stay on a horse and what methods to use as a child, I simply accepted them. Now as an adult, when receiving instruction, I have questions regarding the biomechanics, the history of the theory, and further context surrounding the lessons I’ve been given. I’m looking forward to the challenge of being an equestrian, who learned the basics of horseback riding as a child, and attempting to teach these basics to an adult. I know for a fact that many of the methods that I was taught and the rules I had to follow as a child were meant specifically for children, and their pint-sized safety. Hearing how I describe and inform G on horse care, stable management, and riding rules has been a blast from the past. I hear the voices of my first instructors, camp counselors, and early years of riding as I echo their first lessons to me. (Between you and me, I worry that I will provide a juvenile slant to such a serious, tough sport!)
Whether you’re eight or eighty, just starting out or have been riding all your life, you’ll never stop learning. Here are some of the fantastic articles I’ve come across this week. For anyone interested in the equestrian sports, or active living in general, many of these will be an intriguing read.
1. Ask The Experts (With George Morris): Why and How Should We Ride Without Stirrups?, Jennifer M. Keeler, via Chronicle of the Horse
In my feeble attempts to practice (forget “master”) the sitting trot, I am often advised by many sources to practice riding without stirrups. Though I had no difficulty riding bareback and jumping without stirrups as a child, in my adults years I’ve come to realize I’m not as confident, or perhaps not as balanced, as I once was. I feel as though working without stirrups is certainly important in overcoming these mental obstacles, but I don’t feel prepared to simply drop the irons. In this interview, renowned competitor, coach and author George Morris explains ways riders can wean themselves into stirrupless schooling, and the benefits of such practice.
2. You CAN Master Sitting Trot – Really!, Sandy Howard, via Practical Horseman
In my attempts to understand and practice the muscle-building sitting trot, I found this lengthy article explaining the dressage coach’s perspective on how to build yourself up to this difficult, but essential, position.
3. How to Ride Sitting Trot, Anna Ross Davies, via Dodson & Horrell (Video)
Dodson & Horrell have produced several succinct series with top level riders educating the internet at large on various disciplines. Dressage rider Anna Ross Davies instructs how to introduce your young or tense horse to the sitting trot comfortably and seamlessly. I’m definitely trying this method!
4. The Spirit of the Equestrian: Pippa Funnell, Directed by Cathy Jones (Video)
In the mid-2000s, Rolex sponsored a four-part series called The Spirit of the Equestrian. I recently watched the episode on Pippa Funnel, a highly regarded top-level Three Day Eventing rider. If you’re not convinced, or haven’t any idea what the intense and perilous “cross country” is: check out her 2011 Burghley course here.
5. Boyd Martin at MSEDA General Meeting: Part 2, Samantha L. Clark, via Eventing Nation
Boyd Martin, the Aussie-turned-American Olympic eventer, was recently interviewed at an MSEDA event. His Q&A has been parsed into two sections, and I found his take on what to look for in prospective mounts fascinating. For those of you who don’t remember, Boyd is the owner and rider of Neville Bardos, a competitive off-the-track Thoroughbred with a heartwarming underdog story.