Sack of Potatos

My Post on Chronicles of the Horse.

You know you’ve heard the expression “riding like a sack of potatos.”  I fall into that category.  Above is the link to my Chronicles of the Horse post, and the thread that is now at 6 pages and over 100 posts.  It is all so informative it’s amazing. I’ve learned more about my riding flaws in the last 24 hours than I have in 5 years of one on one instruction with my trainer.

What really bugs me, now the more that I think about it, is that I discussed the issues I’ve had with all my past horses, my trainer helped me out with the gray mare and the buckskin, she was aware of how I feel it is my riding, but yet she NEVER POINTED OUT ANY FLAWS IN MY RIDING.

Sure, she corrected minor issues, helped me learn to balance the horse (ironic since as a rider, I’m out of balance).  I guess we did a lot of work with the horse, but little with me.  So here I am riding around, slamming too hard in the saddle and sitting crooked and ruining my horses and it never got corrected.  Even back when I had the grey mare working with a dressage trainer, my riding flaws never got corrected.

The saddle fitter is actually coming out this afternoon.  I so wound up in knots over all this, the saddle fitting almost seems pointless.  My riding is just so poor and it’s never been touched on by my instructor, how can I possibly correct it?

What, she didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings?  Imply that I’m fat and having a hard time controlling the new oversized me?

So… instead of correcting a problem, I’ve just been allowed to ride poorly, think I’m doing well, and happily fork over the money, is that it?

This has been a real eye opener for me.  I *knew* it was my riding back when Spyder started her issues.  It *had* to be me because other people could ride Spyder and Tate and not have issues – in the same tack I was using.  So again, with Chewbacca, it’s not the tack (well, maybe the saddle isn’t fitting properly) – it’s my poor riding.

And here I was paying hundreds a month for instruction to learn to be a better rider, and I actually got worse.

This is just so upsetting – the past, the present, the future.  Maybe I could have actually gotten Spyder to be the competitive Dressage horse I wanted her to be if I just had correction from instructor then.  Maybe I wouldn’t have ruined her so badly.

Maybe I never would have gotten another horse. (Although I now I should not have).

Maybe I’ll never ride again, and believe I am really thinking hard core about that.  I’ll miss riding terribly, but I can still drive, and I’ll always love horses and be around them.

I need to lose weight, I need to fit myself up to get better at controlling my body on a horse, but mostly, I need to find the confidence to trust myself on a horse again, and I’m not sure I’m capable of that.

In other news, Chewbacca’s harness arrived yesterday – making that what I think was the fastest eBay shipping EVER.  It’s a cheap harness, but just for ground driving, it should be OK.  It’ll do fine if I do get a cart for him, too.  It’s pretty, and the leather isn’t half bad.  (not half-good, either, but I wasn’t about to crack out $1,200 on a good harness).  I’ll fit all that on him tonight after the saddle fitting is done.  I have a concern that the girth for the harness is too short, so I may need to replace a few parts!!  I measured, but it still looks to me like it won’t fit.

Oh, and speaking of harnesses that don’t fit… oh man does Luke ever need a new schooling harness!!!  He has a good quality $800 show harness, but his piece o’crap schooling harness that I think I paid a hundred bucks for is barely getting around his girth anymore!  LOL!  Luke weighs almost 750 pounds, and when I bought him he was 600.

Well, anyway, I’ll update about the saddle fitting.  Finding new instruction for me may be a mute point because I don’t have the money to pay for more lessons or the faith that I can find an instructor capable of correcting my problems.


About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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12 Responses to Sack of Potatos

  1. Dom says:

    I was wondering if you had the same trainer through all of this. I’d be so mad at her…

    • kshai1715 says:

      I dont know if being ‘so mad at her’ really quantifies the exact emotional range I’m experiencing right now. I feel like a fool. A big fat,dumb, incompetent fool. I feel like I’m on the verge of a nervous meltdown, and last time I checked, riding shouldn’t bring you to that point. Riding is/ was/should be FUN and enjoyable. It’s a huge stress point for me now, and the worst part of it is how much time, effort, money, and work I’ve put into getting the issues I have resolved and they’ve actually gotten worse. WORSE!

      I had NO idea I was riding so badly, and yes, my instructor, whom I asked for HELP should have said something to me. But it isn’t just one instructor, either.
      If I follow back to 2006 when I bought my gray mare, I worked with 5 instructors. I had one for the gray mare, 2 hunter trainers, 1 dressage trainer for a horse I was leasing and another dressage trainer for a different horse I was leasing. So 5 instructors, all expensive — we’re talking $50 per half hour expensive– all with credentials and show records– and never once was I corrected about my flaws.
      And now those flaws have taken a toll on another horse and my confidence, if I ever really had it, is totally gone.

      I picture myself getting on Chewbacca again, even just for a trail ride, and I literally want to vomit. Then I picture driving him, having him pull me in a cart down the road (ooo yay) and I think, that’s not at all what I wanted from him. If I wanted a driving horse, I would have bought a fjord (so cute!).

      The people on Chronicles have given me a ton of advice, and I’m doing my homework now. They suggested pilates, yoga, and exercise – all of which I will look into this week. They suggested going back to total basics, on a lunge line, working like a raw beginner. I’m not sure if I can ever bring myself to get on a horse again, but I would like to look for an instructor who maybe can handle dealing with me.

      So we’ll see.

      • Amanda Guest says:

        (I came over from COTH–alg0181).

        I think you should be mad. If that’s really how it went with your trainer/s, then they didn’t do their jobs. Don’t feel stupid. The whole idea of a trainer is that they know MORE than you–which makes you unqualified to judge their knowledge! You follow me? It’d be like a tutor telling a student their math was fine, but student fails the test because their math was actually not fine and needed work. How could the student know? Ultimately in both situations the student is not at fault, BUT the student has to pay the price.

        So be mad, not at yourself, at those trainers. Don’t let those experiences turn you off of horses. You have muscle memory, some good and some bad habits, but if you hook up with a great no-nonsense trainer who WANTS you to succeed and believes in you, you will see improvement in no time.

        I didn’t ride for several years and when I came back I rode like a sack of potatoes. I felt like a big slob up there. But goddamn it I love to ride so I rode until I was so sore I couldn’t move. 2pt exercises, longe lessons, etc. I have seen a dramatic improvement in 4 months and have had owners asking me to show their horses in local shows.

        If you really want it, you can do it.

  2. jo says:

    Hey, I followed your post from Coth over to here. I hope you don’t mind me replying here instead of over there but I didn’t want this to get lost in the crowd. I wanted to tell you that I’ve had EXACTLY the same type of problems. Seven years ago, your post could have been about me .. crooked, heavy driving seat, overly stiff in weird places, no core muscles and yes, sore backed horse who was starting to cow kick and buck. I wanted to let you know, it IS fixable.

    I’m crooked to the right and, due to past instructors drilling me on sitting perfectly still, I ride very heavy. I don’t have enough give in the right places and entirely too much in the wrong ones (think collapsing though my torso). My mare got sore, started star gazing instead of coming into the bit and just generally got grouchy. As it progressed, she started kicking and bucking during ring work but she was fine on the trails.

    I got rid of my (also expensive) hunt seat instructor who had been blowing smoke up my ass and got a GOOD dressage instructor, one who is willing to grab a body party and put it where she wants it and yell at me every time I don’t hold there. She ignored my ego completely and put me back at the walk for months until I could keep myself in the position she wanted me in with the fluidity she needed from me. Then we went to lunge work. And it felt WRONG! My riding habits were so deeply ingrained that it felt like was I trying to ride a bicycle with on leg tied to my ear. My balance was off, nothing felt right and it hurt as the muscles were retrained.

    But it worked. My mare (an opinionated little arab) is schooling second level now and is back to %100 sound and has been for the last five years. Its still a bit of a battle to force myself to ride straight and light but my mare lets me know when I screw up. As soon as the ears go back and the head comes up, I know I’m either a) grinding my seat, b) landing too heavy, c) leaning, or d) I’ve locked my arms and no longer have giving hands.

    It can be done and you haven’t ruined your horse forever. They forgive and, once you fix yourself, it does get better.

    • kshai1715 says:

      I’m glad you overcame your issues! That’s awesome! Not sure I’ll be able to find an instructor to help me, but I have so many other things to work on just about me first, that I’ll be preoccupied with myself for months anyway 🙂

  3. Gwen says:

    Ok, I went through and looked at your videos. Honestly, you’re not THAT bad of a rider. Yes, you sit a little heavy (but putting up a post like that, you must want some criticism, right? Don’t take it too hard). Something that made ME a lighter rider: doing two point/posting bareback. Tightens your thighs, too! And, you should do this on an old school master. Your confidence needs a steady eddy to build it back up.

    I think the main thing I noticed was not you, but the horse. Beautiful! When you say other people “ride” your horse better than you, it’s not their position you should be worried about, rather how they handle the horse. You are overthinking position, when really, you should be thinking about how the horse goes. My dressage trainer actually tells me this all the time, “if your horse is going in a frame beautifully, no one notices your “bad” position.” So what you should work on is connection between your hands in the bit. I noticed you weren’t asking for connection with your grey horse or Chewie in the vids. Watch the horse’s nose in this video, NOT the rider: (If you really want to look at the rider, his heels are up, toes out, not “great” position. But look how good he gets the horse to go, he’s still effective) When the horse tries to throw his nose out and leave the connection, the rider “massages” the reins to get him back on the bit. This is how to get a horse in a frame. If you watch the horse’s mouth, the rider always has pressure on the bit. NOW. If your horse is going in a frame their back will feel so much better! I’m guessing here that maybe your horse’s back hurts because his/her head is up in the air, causing them to hollow out, causing their vertebrae to “U shape”, and with a person’s weight on that, can be ouchy. Now as a vet student, I will say that splints (and any leg injury for that matter) can cause back pain. That most likely wasn’t you.

    I think all these years you have been micro managing YOUR position, which will help you win equitation classes, but to be an effective rider, you need to micro manage your HORSE’S position.

    I hope you take me seriously when I say that you really are not a bad rider. I wish you were closer so that I could ride with you (you’re in WI, right?), because I sincerely doubt that you ruined any horse with your position. In the grey mare, I see a horse that you let get away with a few things: you gave her an inch and she took a mile. If you never had a mare before, they get a little crazy when they get hormonal, and if you give them that inch, man….

    A tip on being able to tell which lead you’re on, just look down to see which front leg goes farther forward.

    Have you ever heard of “self fulfilling prophecy”?

    • kshai1715 says:

      LOL. I think I qualify into self-fulfilling prophecy for sure.

      I owned mares prevoius to the gray. One I loved, I adored. She was my first horse. We never had riding related problems. Another damaged her hip minutes after I loaded her into the trailer after buying her, and she never was really rideable. Bummer. I hear what you are saying about building connection through the reins. It was something I always *tried* to do. (If not succeed). It’s a concept I understand, but clearly something I’ve never been able to demonstrate. The grey mare exploded on me because she was so sick and tired of my bullshit, and now that I understand so much more about the problems with my riding, I get that. I never blamed her, and I still don’t. She refused to let me touch her or ride her for years. She wouldn’t even work on the long lines very well for me, either. She wanted nothing to do with me asking her to do any work. She used to charge at me, attack me. It was awful. That horse hated me and I ruined her mentality. Once I got rid of her, sent her to a new home, with new people – she was fine. Never a problem.

      That’s something really hard to deal with and overcome. Especially as someone who’s invested thousands and thousands and thousands into lessons to make sure I was riding well. When Chewbacca’s back got sore, I felt sick to my stomach. I was riding him twice a week with my trainer to make sure that didn’t happen, and it did. I believe he popped the splint BECAUSE his back was sore. Because as a rider, I’ve been told I lean to the left, so the horse compensates to the left. His back got sore, causing him to compensate even harder on the left and he pops a left splint – at 11 years of age. That is NO coincidence.

      As far as looking for leads/diagonals, yes I know how to do that. But I can’t *feel* when I’m wrong or correct – and now I know that all is link to how poorly I sit and ride.

      My horses deserve way better than having me on their back. But I am hopeful for a turn of luck with driving! I am near Chicago, BTW.

      • Gwen says:

        I can’t “feel” diagonals or leads either, and I started riding when I was five.

        Maybe you should get a draft! I rode my friend’s percheron cross… omg! So much fun!

        I’ve recently (as in, past couple of years) gotten into trail rides: lots of galloping (and hence, two point= big thighs). It’s nice to let go of “goals” and just ride.

      • kshai1715 says:

        I was looking ideally for a draft cross. I’ve own one. Ridden several. I love them. But then I landed the score of a lifetime and got the world’s most perfect Quarter Horse and I couldn’t be happier! 🙂

        I think your sentiment about getting rid of goals is exactly right. All along, I’ve been pressing to get back into the showring. Years ago, when I *actually did show*, I never worked hard to get into the ring. I never fantasized about showing, or planned a show a month ahead and worked for it. It was just something that happened, that I did, that just came to be naturally. It’s the last 6-7 years since I stopped showing that things went down hill and I’ve been trying so hard to get back into the show ring and nothing has gone right.
        I’m still doing it even with Chewbacca now. I hope to show him driving some day, but for now, my only “goal” is to get him broke to drive.

      • Gwen says:

        OH and Chicago isn’t that far away. I’m west of St. Louis. Come down and do a week with my dressage trainer?

        She’s awesome, and totally focused on what you can get out of your horse, with position coming in second.

        Here’s her website:

      • kshai1715 says:

        Thanks for the invite ! That’s a good 6 hour haul. haha…

  4. Gwen says:

    You might like this:

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