Yesterday, GunDiva, RCC and I spent the day at the Rocky Mt. Horse Expo at the Denver Stockyards. It was a beautiful day outside (and of course, we were inside!) and a lot of fun to be walking and talking horses with a couple of my 'kids'. We were sorely saddened to not find a lot of horse related 'gear' at the show; a lot of jewelry, clothes, lots of artwork, foods, etc.; but a good reason for me to go in the past was the fact you could get needed supplies for a reasonable cost. What? No wormer - non, nada; even asked! Nope. Well, how about sheets, blankets, whatever you want to call them? I wanted to do some comparison shopping between styles and brands; you know, get my hands on them before ordering something inappropriate. Nada again! We found a couple, literally, on consignment. Also wanted to pick up some mane and tail detangler. Well, guess not this year. Not sure what happened. I guess human products sell so much better at these things.
The good news: we sat through a couple of Julie Goodnight's talks (of Julie Goodnight, Horsemaster fame) and it was more eye-opening to me than I expected. As you may know, I have had both hips replaced, but before that I had continued riding, developing some not-so-good horse postures, which in turn created a lot of BAD muscle memory. I have been struggling to change that on the ground; now it's time to change than in the saddle. It was great watching her in the arena work with a couple of already good riders, teaching them a couple of tricks to make riding easier for them and their horses. What was really neat was seeing the difference in the way their horses moved with the difference in how they were balanced.
I think the one thing that I really took away from her first presentation, basically riding in better balance, was the simple technique of how to 'sit on your pockets' and how that gets your feet under you for better balance, rather than being forced into a leaning forward position. So easy; standing in your stirrups, scunch forward toward the pommel, then just sit down and let your pelvis 'roll' toward the cantle, so you end up 'sitting on your pockets'; essentially sitting on your seatbones instead of your pelvic bone. If your stirrups are the right length, it will drop your legs into the correct position. Also, apparently most of us ride with the wrong length stirrups for whatever discipline we ride; and yes, that changes with the discipline. Some of you probably already know this, but since I only ride wilderness trails, I thought you always used the same length (except jockeys, of course, who are just crazy, anyway!) I had already shortened my stirrups and found that better. Bless her heart, though, the best was when she said NOBODY rides in the perfect position all the time. We all fall into habits and create bad muscle memories, and what we need to do is have someone look at us or look at pictures of ourselves from time to time, then make our brain help us to over-ride those muscle memories to make new ones. She told a funny story of the horror she felt when she saw a picture of herself in a magazine and realized she had fallen into the very familiar 'cowboy slump', which tends to hit riders who spend many hours in the saddle. She is now more conscious of her posture.
Julie does such a good job of also entertaining at these events, that you pick up all kinds of tidbits from her anecdotes. I like her "HorseMaster" RFDTV series, but her personality just doesn't come through like when you see her in person. GunDiva is part of her Colorado horse crew when she films here, and had told me about this. I had just never noticed, but it was so obvious yesterday. We all decided to stay and watch the second half of her talk in the afternoon, where I picked up lots of 'tidbits' to use on the horses this summer. So, look out herd, here I come!