Since a while ago I did a post about Casey's strengths, weaknesses, and goals I think that it is only fair that I put myself under that same evaluation.
I am personally a perfectionist and would love to be an amazing rider who had no faults, but that just isn't realistic. Plus, part of the fun of riding is that you can improve and learn new things. Perfection is a bit boring. At the same time, the huge gaps in my riding history have really not helped me as a rider and I am frustrated at times by my riding level. I am as good as I know how to be on my own, so I really just need regular lessons (as in multiple per week) to improve from here, but that is a financial burden that I cannot bear right now.
My plan of action right now is to ride 5 days a week (Casey plus occasionally other horses) and have a lesson with my trainer every other week. When I ride on my own I plan on recording myself as much as possible so that I can study my form and try to make improvements on my own.
Things I am awesome at:
- I have pretty good balance.
- I have training experience on my side, so I know how to get a horse to do what I want.
- I know my trotting diagonals and catch when I am on the wrong diagonal so I can correct it.
- I know my canter leads and when my horse is on the wrong lead and I can correct it.
- I have very little fear. That means that I am willing to ride just about any horse and go over just about any jump.
- Even though I have very little fear I am not a dangerous rider. I think before I act and try to not hurt myself or my horse.
- I am very calm and patient and will work with a horse to get them to do what I want, rather than forcing them into it.
- I end rides on good notes, which makes for a happy horsie.
- My half-halts have improved a lot in the past 6 months so now I would say that I am efficient at using them.
- Most of the time I keep my eyes up and heels down. I'm not perfect, but I'd say I have this down 95% of the time.
Things I need to improve on:
- My position is all over the place. So many issues... Part of the problem is that I rotate between a whole bunch of lesson saddles and so am constantly having to figure out stirrup length & which saddle pads I need for that saddle. It's exhausting. I do know that I am riding with stirrups that are too long (so have shortened them a hole) and I also know that I have really bad chair-seat (shortening the stirrups should help and I am also going to use a riser pad under my saddle).
- At a canter, I push my inside leg too far forward. I need to work on keeping my legs beneath me, wrapped around the horse.
- I also tend to try to help the horse circle at the canter by leaning with my body. I need to work on sitting up straight with shoulders back.
- Position over jumps - I am too far out of the saddle and my legs aren't beneath me. Again, shortening my stirrups should help, but I really just need more practice over jumps (I basically didn't jump at all this last year and it definitely is showing).
- I need to work on my release over jumps. I have no idea what I am currently doing (something between a short release and an auto release?) but it's pretty bad and definitely needs improvement. Also, I sometimes ride with my reins wayyyyy too long over jumps.
- I am not the best at judging distances to jumps. I probably need to work on gymnastics lines to work on this.
- Although I know of a lot of exercises to do with my horse, there are so many that I don't know that I want to know.
My goals for myself as a rider (to accomplish in this next year):
- Get my leg underneath me!
- Have a good jumping position.
- Learn auto-release.
- Get better at judging distances.
- Sit up straight with shoulders back at all times.
- Learn more exercises to work on with Casey.
Hopefully, I will get better at all of these things (so that I can stop cringing at my photos). At times I feel defeated by some of these things (especially my position errors), but I think that it is important to remember that we have to be bad at something to get better and that even the best riders had to learn when they started.
Do you have any riding goals for yourself? What are they? Do you have any tips for correcting my riding position?