I am finally starting to look the part of a real rider. This week I broke in my new purple half chaps (not the most professional or mature choice, I admit) and a sleek pair of black full seat winter riding breeches. I can’t recall ever riding in either before. In my heyday I wore full chaps to school and knee patch breeches to show. Lately it’s been jeans and paddock boots all the way, not an ideal combination since the jeans tend to ride up, leaving my calves completely exposed. The multicolored bruises were also getting to be a bit much. My legs were starting to resemble rainbows.
Let me tell you, I am in love with my new attire. Not only did the winter breeches keep me warm (ask me when it’s -30 degrees if I still feel that way), they also kept my butt glued to the saddle. Hurray! Who knew that a little extra suede could help my sitting trot feel effortless and help my position so much? There was of course one tiny issue. It sure is a lot harder to get off when your butt is that sticky. Poor Luc had to stand around patiently as I figured out the best way to launch myself off him. FYI, pushing away from the saddle as you get off does not look as graceful as just effortlessly sliding down the horse’s side.
The half chaps also played a huge part in my ride this week. They kept my calves covered, and seemed to lock them in place. My leg felt rock solid. My half seat also became a lot easier. My legs actually stayed engaged, which meant Luc actually continued to move forward while I worked on it. We did a whole series of canter poles and I was able to hold the half seat the entire time. The last time I rode I could barely keep myself in position for 10 seconds!
Sadly, dressing the part of a real rider, as opposed to just someone who occasionally gets on a horse and calls themselves a rider, does not magically solve all of one’s position problems. While working on my two point and half seat I caught myself practicing duck feet again – where my toes are turned completely outward at a 90 degree angle from my body. Now, you would think that would be pretty uncomfortable, but for me, it’s my natural position. I even walk with my feet turned out slightly.
It took a huge level of concentration on my part to bring my toes forward instead of out. Let me tell you, my knees did not like it one bit. I’ll have to keep working on it at the walk to help re-train my body that I am not a duck! The only comfort I can take in my duck feet is that for my entire riding career this has been an issue for me. I once had an instructor ask me if I had broken both ankles previously, since my feet stuck out so badly. I did manage to fix it (well mostly) once before, so I am hopeful I can do it again.
Now there are just a few more key pieces in my riding attire that need a little attention. Since I’ve successfully lost some weight (you’re welcome Luc!) most of my tops are now rather large on me. I didn’t really think it was a problem until it started to get cold. They’re so large that the air blows right up my shirt. This week I resorted to tucking my polar fleece pullover into my pants. Not a great look. Thankfully my big bulky vest (now also way too big) hid that little fashion faux pas in the photos. At least since the temperatures are dropping I can just pretend I’m wearing a lot of layers. And besides, it’s not like I have anyone to impress except for Luc. And let’s face it, his fashion sense is worse than mine. His style is manure chic all the time.