Reading BlkHrsRider today in her Daily Dairy, thinking about how she describes Bella and how Bella takes care of less skilled and more vulnerable riders.
Having laid off horses for 40 years, after a 20 intense career as a professional trainer, coach, instructor, barn manager, competitor, I was not the least surprised when I came back to horses 4 years ago, that I still had a fairly good seat on a horse.
On the other hand I noticed too there were changes.
At first as I attempted critical evaluation of my seat I assumed that had I been riding regularly in those 40 horseless years my seat would not have changed except possibly for the better.
Now, in the present after than long layoff, I noticed some of the obvious - that muscles and tendons needed to be stretched, flexed, rebuilt, and I had to be conscious of things going on with my body that I had long ago not needed to think about to do them correctly. 20 years on horseback almost daily, many horses a day, will do that to you.
The thing that stood out most prominently though was, I thought, a lack of core strength that made my upper body feel wobble. A video of me riding proved that to be true. I was, compared to my history, wobbling. I blushed when I saw it.
I also resolved to do something about it. Ride more, of course, and do some workout routines for core strength.
Nothing happened. I still wobbled.
Oh, a bit less, but I, who had observed and evaluated my students and teams I coached, could see the details and, damn it, I WOBBLED.
The horse I was working a the time, bomb-proofing under saddle, was something of a wobbler himself, and yet very quick.*
Saddling up one day I missed that my saddle shims had fallen away on this rather high withered horse, and when I mounted up, his first step was a leap sideways and a crowhop.
Yes, I stayed aboard.
Got me to thinking later that had I reacted as a new rider with lots of core strength (usually the case with the young athletic rider) I'd have probably gone bottom up off the horse. What saved me?
Flexibility. That I wobbled. That I did not lack core strength so much as that I could have more time to recover if I was relaxed, as I had learned 60 years earlier as a boy exercising TBs at a racing stable. The TBs and the head trainer sort of pounded the lesson into me.
At the moment the horse shied from the pain of the gullet coming down on his withers (my bad) I was quite relaxed, and I had a big wobble, but a secure wobble.
I recovered about like one sees a cutting horse rider come from behind a movement of his horse under him and then swing out the other way as the horses dodges back again to follow the steer or cow. They do not lean into the direction of the movement but rather allow themselves to be a little behind it.
This does not just save the rider the strain and stress of trying to, struggle to, remain upright on the horse, but allows for relaxed flexibility. It also allows the horse the same time for recovery as the rider gets.
How is that related to age?
Age beats you into submission. If you haven't learn to bend with the winds and forces of nature you are dead already.
Age makes you flexible if you are a horseman, or horsewoman.
And it shows when the horse shies and bolts.
Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake.
* An aside: I found over the years that black or brown (black body with brown points) horses tended to be more high strung, more reactive to objects of fear, and quick - very quick. More sensitive to cues, thus trainable to lightness to a very high degree. Always an adventure to ride.
Lighter Greys, duns, whites (both white on darker skin and albinos) all tended to be quieter less reactive horses. Chesnuts (sorrels), and bays, somewhere in between.
Anyone else had this experience with horse colors?