Today is hot. Hot in the sun and in the shade, but we finished all the horses 30 minutes ago and now I can sit back and… well, do computer work.
Lovely lessons today with our working student and regular students. Everybody worked up a sweat, which is always good. In addition, they accomplished some really great things. All of which had to do with quality of leg, rather than quantity. As we learn to ride, there is certainly a physical curve in building the strength required to ride with good posture, effective legs and independent aids. But, is it always ‘MORE’ that you need?
The answer, in short, is ‘No’.
Imagine that you are sitting on a large beach ball or a large exercise ball. (Or try this if you have one). Keeping the ball between your legs, stand up without dropping it. Take note of the amount of leg you have applied to hold the ball. Now, squeeze the ball as hard as possible with your legs. What happened? Probably it squirted out from between your legs. Replace the ball. Now let your legs go noodle-like. What happens? Ball drops, yes? So, keeping the ball (or horse) between your legs requires just the right amount of leg.
Now, with the ball between your legs, try walking forward. Again, are you squeezing constantly with both legs? Probably not. You would not be able to move very well. Once you’ve mastered the walk, try a little ‘trot’. Again, how much leg was required? Or, more importantly, what TYPE of leg was required?
Your horses’ body, especially the rib cage, is like this ball. The faster you want to move forward, the more active and allowing your leg needs to be. So yes, you use your leg, but not in continuous, vice-grip fashion. Try this and the last exercise I wrote about to teach you control of your leg. Using your leg aids accurately will give you better, more precise results. Good luck!