I’ve discovered why I don’t ride as well as I wish, no matter how hard I try.
I’ve been told on a few occasions that I have the ‘ideal’ conformation for a rider. I have a relatively short torso and long, long legs. I’m blessed with a metabolism that allows me to eat what I want without gaining a lot of weight.
But, perhaps out of politeness, the folks who made these nice comments forgot to mention some parts that aren’t so ideal.
They neglect to mention my arms, except to say that I’m holding the reins in. I’m not. My arms are short. Oh, they reach, but they must appear as if my wrists come right out of my elbows. The Sister called me “Stubs” and “T. Rex”, so you can imagine what my arms look like. Whenever I try on a shirt or a blouse, the one that fits my shoulders and chest have sleeves that touch the floor.
(The Sister is called The Sister because she’s not really a sister. Biologically, I mean. She looks like the sister my parents produced but the resemblance is strictly superficial. My real sister was abducted by aliens when we were still puppies. In her place was left what the aliens hoped would pass as a human being. The Sister must be a rough draft, because she isn’t human. At all.)
My arms are to my torso what an Arabian’s head is to bridles: the browband needs to be horse sized, and the cheekpieces need to be short enough for a pony.
Then there’s my feet. They’re shaped like bowling pins, with narrow heels and front ends so wide that I may as well just discard the shoes and wear the box they came in. Oh, did I mention that one is two sizes larger than the other. Trying to buy footwear is like trying to use Microsoft Vista: it’s not cheap and it usually doesn’t fit correctly.
We must play the cards we were dealt. I can’t complain, really. I am in decent health and am fit, and I’ve had these arms and feet all my life. I’ve learned to live with them.
It’s when I get in a saddle that my previously harmonious body parts begin to fight against each other. And up until now, I’ve always assumed that the reason my horse doesn’t do what I ask and ask and ask is because I’ve not been asking correctly. So I’ve done a lot of study, research and reading to try and improve my riding.
There are many ways to learn to ride correctly. One of the best is watching the top riders of the world and try to emulate them.I was witness to the fabulous performance of Edward Gal riding the incomparable Moorlands Totilas at the World Equestrian Games.
I audited one of her clinics, met and conversed with that classy lady, Heather Blitz. I’ve seen her videos of her riding Paragon and Rambo.
I have a signed and autographed poster of Abdullah, the fabulous Trakhener stallion from 1984 Olympics, airborne over a jump. His rider, Conrad Holmfeld, was so good a rider that he’s not even in the saddle, not really. He’s aboard that gorgeous stallion but is fully concentrating on the jump ahead of him.
I’ve been reading Mary Wanless’s books and watching her videos.
All of these people can RIDE. They look like centaurs. They are truly wrapped around the horse, a part of the horse, without a seam showing. Watching and emulating the masters has led me to discover yet another part of my body that betrays me. It explains why I just don’t fit in a saddle like they do. I finally understand that there’s another part of my anatomy that I never thought would matter, and it will forever prevent me from truly achieving a solid seat.
The masters: Heather, Edward, Mary, Conrad, so many beautiful riders, all have thighs. Thin ones that are apparently made of steel. They keep their owner so solidly anchored to the animal’s back that Bodacious would have had a hard time budging them.
This, I’m learning, is the key to staying in the saddle. You must have your thigh flat on the saddle. Doing so makes it easy to sit a trot or rise to it. Thighs keep you balanced. Using your thighs to keep your weight off the horse’s back makes it easier for him to do his job, that of carrying himself.
I know from watching the truly great riders that I am supposed to have my thigh welded to the saddle flap, where it supports and stabilizes me.
Of course, being a card carrying bipedal human, I, too, have thighs. They do a great job of keeping my knees separated from my hips, but my thighs are not flat, nor thin.They are fat and round. My friends say oh, they’re merely fleshed out. My detractors call them ‘thunder thighs’. These things are my meat locker. I could survive another Ice Age with the fat stored in them. They make me look as though I’m wearing jodhpurs.
I can no more put the ‘flat of my thigh’ on my saddle than I can ‘fly up to the rooftop with my (short) forearms.”
Situps will carve your belly fat into six pack abs. Lifting weights will produce ripped biceps to die for. Running for years and walking daily, has given me the calves of a marathon runner.
There is no exercise that removes the meat specifically and solely from thighs. Oh, it can be done: fasting for six months will result in svelte thighs. The downside is all the bad stuff that comes with fasting: death from starvation, for instance.
Maybe that’s why the six foot tall, anorexic Top Models are always frowning as they stagger, knees locked, down the runway. They know they look like clowns and they’re dying for a pizza and a beer. But their thighs look fabulous.
There’s got to be a connection. There’s got to be a reason why my arms are short and my thighs are fat.
Writing about my sister regressed me to that day when the aliens took her. I think I’ve figured out why I have such an odd body.
When the Mother Ship hovered over us as we played in the backyard, the aliens first tried to transport me up into the ship.
But I was always the fidgety one, the kid who would never sit still. I’m still that way. I cannot sit still, which makes a visit to the dentist fraught with pain and difficulty.
When the aliens teleported me, I must have been jiggling or bouncing around, as I usually did. Now that I think of it, the folks on the “Enterprise” always stood very still while they were being beamed up or down.
But what did I know? I was five years old. I didn’t know a transporter from a transistor. They didn’t teach you how to be teleported in kindergarten. And to be bloody honest, the aliens didn’t so much as say, “Excuse me, but we want to examine you, so hold still.” I never even got a look at them. Maybe when I solidified on the Mother Ship I looked like something Picasso painted.
The beam operator took one look at me and realized that if his shift supervisor saw what a mess I’d arrived as, the supervisor would rip him a new one. So he reversed the beam and sent me back. Even in a sub-particle state, I was probably fidgeting, so that when I solidified, parts of me had been re-arranged. My feet were pinched and pulled, and parts of my arms got stuck onto my thighs. That would explain a lot.
That’s why I can’t ride like Heather or Edward. I was garbled in transmission.