Sometimes I find myself twisted up like a pretzel while riding. You’ve been there remember? No? Well let me jump start your memory. You’re trying to make yet another dreaded perfect 20-meter circle. On the open side instead of looping around your horse strolls on down the rail. Your perfect circle has just become a fish hook. OK possibly a keyhole if you were able to pull off a last minute save.

The twist In essence my rib cage has collapsed to the inside, my weight has shifted to the outside stirrup, the outside rein may’ve crossed the withers, my inside leg has turned out and drifting toward the horse’s shoulder and my eyes are looking maybe steps ahead of me.

In response the horse has bulged out or fallen in. When I collapse on the inside, my weight is in the outside stirrup causing the horse to step in that direction to balance himself (think of a leg yield).  My outside rein crosses the withers and no longer contains his outside shoulder and my outside leg isn’t there either. My inside leg has turned out and rotated my hip. I just opened the door and the horse strolled through it. Oh, yeah and my eyes pointed him there.

Now it’s time to shout. To fix my collapsed rib cage I need to remember to step into my inside stirrup. Not a lot. Just a little. Enough to elongate that side (and keep my bra strap up). Keep my weight centered over the saddle. Forget about the curve and ride straight. Then remember to keep my elbows near my hips. Think glued there. No better yet rubber cement. Then I’ll remember to keep them elastic not stiff. My inside leg should turn in to indicate the bend. Keep my eyes looking a half circle ahead of us. The horse will follow my eyes.

Eureka! I had a great lesson applying these techniques. I found that I had to think of leg yielding or maintaining straightness on the quarterline instead of thinking about circles. The more I think about circles the more stressed out I get. The more I over think them and become a contortion artist. I had great changes of bend on a figure eight too. My instructor didn’t really harp on touching points so something must’ve been right. Oh, and I had the ring to myself.