Dragon and I have been working on the ridden WWYLM game for the past three weeks, and the exercise has really opened up our “discussion” while riding as well as pointing out to me the flaws in my riding. The exercise is simple enough: ride your horse forward on the buckle while steering him only with your weight and your core. If he deviates from the frame/guide provided from your body, pick up the rein with your buckle hand, slide your rein hand down the rein so it is taut between the two hands and anchor your hand to the saddle. When your horse offers a smooth turn, picking up your seatbones, click/reward and release.
Before this exercise, let’s just say Dragon wasn’t the most intuitive or sensitive horse when it came to my core/weight. But to be fair, I de-sensitized him A LOT by not being precise enough in my riding in the last 4 months before I re-started him using the clicker. However, I can confidently say, he is now more tuned in under saddle then he has ever been in the past. He expects a constant conversation and is consistently relaxed with soft muscles and a long topline. For the first time he feels like the same thinking horse under saddle that he is on the ground.
As for me, this exercise has allowed me to practice engaging my core every time I treat my horse. I click, lean down to treat him, and think about “kneeling” – a great image from Mary Wanless to help riders sit correctly and open up their hip joints. As I sit back up I make sure to engage my core and “bear down”. Consequently I feel much much stronger in my seat and very connected to my horse. The repetition of the clicking and treating gives me a chance to check my physical sensation of whether or not my core is engaged over and over in a session, and at the walk where I have time to think about it. I love how this lesson serves both the horse and rider so completely. It also makes me completely aware of the moment he chooses to push through one of my legs with his barrel or loses track of my seatbones or , the opposite, when he is perfectly in tune with me. Click/reward.
Below is a short video of our progress: