When your instructor rides in a Mary Wanless clinic expect to become the guinea pig. Especially if the guinea pig audited the same clinic.

Arm cuffs

Let me refresh your memory of me. I’m short. As in 5′ 1.5″. Kind of ridiculous to mention the half but I need all the height I can get. Now tell me the truth. You immediately thought about short legs, huh? Did you think about my arms at all? They’re short too.

I’ve been trying my hardest to establish good contact with the bit and to ride with a short rein. That in turn has caused me to straighten my arms. Why? Because the horse hasn’t submitted to the pressure. But I have. (Score: Horse 1, Rider 0) Call it a misguided belief that I’m being kind. Uh, I did say misguided. Of course by doing this I’ve totally compromised my position. All the better for my horse to pull me out of the saddle. Just call me the human necklace.

Anyway, my instructor thinks I straighten my arms because they’re, well, short. I probably need to ride with a longer rein in order to have the proper contact and bend in my elbow. Be patient, this all circles back to the clinic and arm cuffs. You heard me right. Arm cuffs. Took me long enough, huh?

Mary says that our elbows should be slightly in front of the side seam in our pants. Then imagine arm cuffs encircling our upper arms with a few links attached to allow slight movements. These are body pierced to the pecs and deltoids. Ow! We’re not done yet. Engage your lats. (Are you breathing? Breathe!) Push your elbows down toward the ground. Your hands should feel as though they’re making contact with a wall. Always!

You know what? It worked for me. I stopped fiddling with reins and my elbows remained bent. My horse even thanked me by rounding. So cool but only a piece of the puzzle.