When I was learning to ride with feel and tact at Brampton to form those quick bonds with school horses that are necessary to pass the BHS stages exam and to help riders communicate with every new horse they meet I found that its a real achievement to bond with a horse to the point where you almost use no aids at all.
Recently Jack and I have been having communication issues and although at a subtle level I was feeling it hard to maintain my position statement in the saddle. This uncertainty was not about feeling like the saddle was way off or that I could not ask Jack to do things it was more a sense of something is missing- am I trying to hard? Is Jack feeling some sub clinical imbalance? Is my mind playing tricks on me?
I have worked a lot with Phil on how making 100 small changes can lead to 100% improvement in performance and with my test sheets in the last few outings showing that Jack and I were missing something, that polish, accuracy, harmony that I would say we established some time ago I was spending a lot of downtime questioning whether I had lost my feel.
I spoke to Ted Boggis at www.rbequestrian.co.uk about my concerns feeling a little sheepish that I haven't been posting the results that reflected well. Ted came out again yesterday and I think we have cracked it. We are using a Korrector pad and Ted spent a great deal of time tallking to me and watching me ride making adjustments to the saddle balance and by the end of the session I felt like I had my balance back. We made very subtle adjustments but balance and symetry are crucial factors. To give an example the day before I had been cantering straight lines and the whole thing had felt as though I was constantly changing my position in the saddle as though I could not keep still as though I had to overcorrect. A few changes to the Korrector pad and there the saddle was a stable platform and Jack was dancing again, I was able to go where I chose in the arena with no loss of connection or suppleness and so much more comfort in the saddle.
I see the magic that can occur for horse and rider combinations I teach when the saddle is well fitting and the rider is in the correct position and I have felt this magic myself, the lesson I have learnt is that riding everyday and working with a horse I know very well it is easy to miss the tell tale signs that the saddle is not quite in balance. So many things can effect performance but it all comes down as a rider to position, feel and communication with your horse and it shouldn't feel like mission impossible.
Fall in love with your saddle and keep checking it is fitting perfectly to help you stay in balance with your horse. A good working relationship with your local qualified saddle fitter is essential because when they watch you ride they focus on how your saddle is performing and affecting the communication between horse and rider- essential feedback .
Yesterday I had a golden moment when I asked Jack to half pass to the centre line and change leads it was effortless and a feeling I am going to hold on to!