Seriously Olivia: A Tale of Blame and Redemption

Mom get out of my ear this is not fun for me

STOP THE PRESSES. Last night’s lesson was just a series of “Seriously Olivia”s.

I, Olivia, do solemnly swear to stop implying that shortcomings in our ride are due to shortcomings in my horse. I’ve been proven wrong every time. This I do swear, so help me God. (Seriously Olivia you bought a nice horse stop pretending like he isn’t a super nice horse)

With that binding oath out of the way, lets talk about left legs. Because honestly, I don’t know any other group of people who willingly want to talk about left legs. But y’all are nuts and I love it. So back to my left leg.

Well, the left side of my body in general.

A little while ago I asked all of you for advice on how to get Francis to respect my left side more, and you gave me some FANTASTIC ideas, many of which I tried. And Frankie the Tankie was perfect with them. Like, weirdly perfect. Shouldn’t he be more resistant??

NEWSFLASH FOLKS THIS HAS BEEN ENTIRELY MY FAULT (Seriously Olivia how had you not picked up on this pattern yet it’s been quite apparent)

Turns out I’m like a super subtle Quasimodo on horseback. It would probably actually be better to be a true Quasimodo, because then it would be very obvious and we could clearly point to what was wrong. But this is a sneaky, insidious kind of crookedness. Where my left shoulder drops, my right seatbone twists back and down, my right leg shoves forward, and my weight drops unevenly into my right heel.

It’s hard to see when I’m going right, and it’s still pretty subtle when I’m in motion. But Trainer took a burst of still-shots at the canter and showed me and it was like wellllll….I’m not with my horse’s motion AT ALL. Like, even a little.

“My horse doesn’t like to bend left.” Except for he totally does when my weight is even and my left leg is legitimately on him and not just wiggling around.

“My horse hates to pick up his right lead.” Could it be because I’M TOTALLY BLOCKING HIS BODY FROM DOING THAT????

“My horse falls in around the corners.” Except he doesn’t do that when I’m not leaning to the outside.

Brain. Exploded.

We even had confirmation of this: when I landed off the jumps and very consciously stayed even and straight, he didn’t even try to fall in, and bent around the turns just fine.

Turns out that when you ride correctly, your horse goes better. NOVEL CONCEPT. (Seriously Olivia you’ve been on horseback for decades now how is this even a statement you have to write down)

Pretty much all the little things I’ve been trying to fix are stemming from this crookedness. We all know that he’s going to jump the jump no matter what I’m doing, and I’m getting better at asking for an energetic bouncy canter off the bat as we get used to each other more and more. What we need now are deliberate tracks so I can ask for my nice close jumper distance, and so I can set him up for the inside turn.

So overall? This was not one of those lessons where I walked away feeling like Beezie Madden. My trainer told me “we have things to work on” instead of “good job” when I left the ring. But MAN OH MAN I am excited that we’ve diagnosed the problem here so that we can now go about fixing it. We were trying to fix the symptoms before, but now we can go about curing the disease.

Yet again, I am calling on Blogland for your collective wisdom.

Have any of you dealt with this kind of crookedness, and how have you gone about addressing it?


18 thoughts on “Seriously Olivia: A Tale of Blame and Redemption

  1. SprinklerBandits 05/12/2016 / 10:04 am

    Heh it’s amazing how that works. I keep complaining to my trainer that it’s not fair for my horse to go better when I ride correctly because HOW THE HELL DOES HE KNOW WHAT CORRECT RIDING IS? I mean, I trained him. I certainly didn’t ride correctly the whole time.



    • hellomylivia 05/12/2016 / 10:08 am

      Absolute madness. Silly horses and their insistence on “balance” and “straightness.” Buncha turds.


  2. Stacie Seidman 05/12/2016 / 10:22 am

    Um yes. And I dunno. I’m still crooked. I think my horses just ignore me?


  3. Allison Stitzinger 05/12/2016 / 10:45 am

    LOLz! I am so, so crooked. I’ll get really annoyed that my pony isn’t bending or doing a shoulder-in or whatever and then I realize that my body is so contorted that he physically cannot. I do a lot of riding at the walk without stirrups to feel out where I’m crooked and correct it, taking it slow to make sure I’m asking for the bend (or whatever) in a straight and appropriate way.

    WHY DOES RIDING CORRECTLY WORK SO WELL?! I feel like I come to this miraculous conclusion like, once a month. You’re not alone.


    • hellomylivia 05/12/2016 / 10:45 am

      OMG RIGHT??? I exclaim this at my trainer on the reg and every time she looks at me like I have three heads.


  4. carey 05/12/2016 / 11:45 am

    I get excited when we figure out what the root problem is, too. I look forward to fixing it. But man, it’s so hard to fix it when it’s something you don’t realize you are doing.


    • hellomylivia 05/12/2016 / 6:52 pm

      Yeah it’s frustrating that I have this going on, but SUCH a relief to know what it is. Now I just have to remember not to do it. It’s that easy, right?!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Heather 05/12/2016 / 1:52 pm

    It would be so nice if I could just be like “ok horse, I’m going to do things, and you’re going to just do a shoulder-in regardless of what happens. kthanks.” But alas, not how it works. I’m with Ali though. Sometimes dropping your stirrups kind of forces you to “fall” in the right place. I’m by no means the straightest rider thanks to a pelvis that’s perpetually out of alignment, but dropping my stirrups for a few minutes to let myself drape around my horse helps me to get a feel when I’m really struggling.

    The other thing that helps is stopping to consciously get every part where it should be. And I mean every single piece from bottom to top. Being aware of what everything is doing and where all of your parts are is a great start on the road to straightness.


    • hellomylivia 05/12/2016 / 6:56 pm

      Agreed- dropping my stirrups seems to help force me into staying more even. And yes to the awareness!!! Gotta figure out the problem before we can fix it.


  6. Amanda Lee 05/12/2016 / 7:27 pm

    I have minor scoliosis so I am VERY FAMILIAR with the crookedness! And I’m still fighting it. I feel like sometimes I need to put a sign on my horse’s neck that says “LEFT SHOULDER BACK”. It’s not perfect but being constantly aware of it helps – even off the horse when I’m just sitting at my desk or watching tv I’m always telling myself to sit up straight and put my shoulder back. Think of it as just constantly doing scapula retractions.

    Stretching helps a lot! A lot of times crookedness is exacerbated by tightness on one side of the body. Everybody has some naturally but you will notice pretty easily that there are some stretches/yoga positions/whatever that you can hold for much longer in one direction than the other. DO THE HARD SIDE. Even if it hurts. I also use a foam roller to work out muscle stiffness. I literally noticed a difference in less than a week when I started!


    • hellomylivia 05/13/2016 / 9:41 am

      Thank you for this advice!!!! I’m definitely trying to be more conscious as I’m at my desk/in the car/doing other things. Will be adding more stretches and foam rolling to my routine 🙂


  7. heartofhope10 05/13/2016 / 10:18 am

    So I am a chronic lean to the right rider! Since I’m so crooked I actually wear out my stirrup leathers differently and it only makes the issue worse! While your saddle is new, maybe just something to keep note of going forward. 🙂


  8. Centered in the Saddle 05/16/2016 / 11:19 am

    Yes! I have recently discovered the reason why I tend to collapse my right rib cage and shorten/clamp my right leg – I’m letting the horse put me off center! A lovely way to help correct this: Imagine you are straight in relation to the GROUND, not the saddle. The saddle might not actually be in the center. It’s amazing how it helps me straighten out – which of course then helps my horse straighten out.


  9. Erin 05/19/2016 / 11:23 am

    I love figuring out stuff like that. Only I’m no help to you on this one. Crooked for life!


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