Centaur Biomechanics : in which Drifter shows the good, the bad and the beautiful

The day after Drifter’s shower we were booked to have a rider analysis session with Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics. He comes to our yard a few times a year, and I had one session with him last year on a school horse, so I had some idea of what to expect.

Our session was at 9 in the morning (a Sunday) and I turned up just after 8 to groom and tack up. Unfortunately the stable was bare. He’d been turned out. Usually, even for horses who are only used by their owners, if it’s on the system that a horse is needed imminently for a lesson then they’re not turned out. But on this occasion they’d all been turned out just before 8. So I got him in from the field, although he’d only been out a few minutes. It’s actually the first time I’ve bought him in from the field myself as I usually avoid doing anything with him in his limited turnout time. I knew he was reasonably good to catch but even so I didn’t wave the headcollar around or walk directly at him, just in case he felt like messing around. I was utterly charmed when he chose to approach me. I held the headcollar out and he put his nose in. It was a really nice moment and I could not have been more touched by my lovely horse.

After grooming and tacking up we headed into the indoor school to begin the session. We began with me introducing Drifter and saying how long I’d had him and where I felt we were with riding. Drifter was fidgety and called to his friends in the field outside. I mounted and began walking round as we continued to talk and Russell got his computer and camera ready. Suddenly Drifter bucked. And bucked again. And again. I told him off and stayed on, explaining to Russell that this was the first time this had happened and he bucked a couple more times. Eventually Drifter consented to walking forward again. This was not the start to the session that I had envisaged! I’m not sure if it was fortunate or unfortunate that Russell didn’t have the video on me at that point, but I was very glad for his calm support during the incident. I was also glad I hadn’t pulled Drifter’s mane too short to have anything to hold on to! This was the first real bucking I’d had on any horse, so I was very glad I hadn’t been alone when it happened.

The session got much better as we went on. Drifter got the message that he wasn’t going to get out of work and eventually started concentrating. Russell is a very talented teacher and the videoing is a wonderful tool. We ended up spending a while working on the canter. I’d been struggling to canter round corners. Drifter is very unbalanced and I’d not been sure if it was that he breaks back to trot for corners because he doesn’t feel he can go round them safely in canter or just because he doesn’t want to. Russell was clear that it was “won’t”, not “can’t” which gave me more confidence in pushing him to stay in canter. We’ve still got a lot of progress to make here but it was really useful and built my canter-confidence a lot. The main message that came out of the session was that I need to use (a lot) more leg, especially in canter but that my position is quite good now. This was particularly pleasing because I used to have so much difficulty in sitting straight and central on the horse. Later in the day I watched my videos from this session and compared them to the one last year on the school horse. The difference in my straightness was quite marked – no more leaning to the left!

I think (hope?) the bucking was probably triggered by his having been turned out and brought in so quickly and so he was naughtily saying no to working. The day before he’d not been ridden but had been turned out and then showered, so it’s not like he’d stood in all day or hadn’t been ridden for days. I’m very pleased that I stayed on him and so he didn’t “win” the encounter. I’ve ridden him three times since then with no issues so I hope it is not going to be repeated. If it is repeated I’ll look into checking back, saddle & teeth in case it is a pain issue, but to me and my admittedly limited experience it felt like naughtiness. The morning was a micro version of the rollercoaster of horse-owning: the beautiful moment when he came to me in the field, the bucking, and by the end of the session, some of the best cantering we’d ever done. Exhausting!

The videos are a valuable training tool, but beyond that they’re just beautiful (well I think so!). I’ve not put a video on my blog before, so getting this to work (assuming I’ve actually managed it!) was a challenge. (Credit also to Mr Sparrowgrass who helped with file formats when I’d got to the limit of my will to live patience.)

Extract from a video made by Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics.


8 thoughts on “Centaur Biomechanics : in which Drifter shows the good, the bad and the beautiful

  1. Liz at Libro says:

    How LOVELY to see you riding him – that brought a little tear to my eye! And well done for getting through such a rollercoaster setting. I recognise that arena as the one we went in on your hen do when I had that sweet pony who didn’t like her reflection and had a tiny buck (but I really liked her).

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Thanks. I’m so glad I was able to manage to get the video up for you all to see. Drifter is curious about the horse in the mirror, but doesn’t worry. But I suppose his reflection is quite a non threatening, modest sized horse, not like Little Ted seeing his 18 hand reflection and panicking about the giant horse coming towards him!

  2. thecasualrider says:

    I thought “awwww” when you said Drifter put his nose through the halter.

    When they call to their friends, it’s always entertaining, and sometimes ear-splitting. Good for you for sticking tight during Drifter’s bucking. Eek. What a start, as you said. Great job on the rollercoaster! 😉

    LOVELY cantering, Sparrowgrass! I was smiling as I watched. You two look beautiful together.

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Thank you so much 🙂 We’re definitely making progress in canter although I have a lot of work to do on keeping him in canter, especially round the corners. I couldn’t stop smiling when I first watched the videos myself. It’s a real treat for me to see him move – you just don’t get the view from on top!

  3. onahorse says:

    I loved this! It was really lovely to see the video footage, too – your ‘woolly boy’ looks lovely and elegant in motion. It’s such a rare treat to actually get to see someone in action on their horse!

    I was also touched by your account of him coming to you in the paddock and being good about having his head collar put on – reading about it reminded me of watching Damian and Saxon in the paddock together when we did the Own a Pony Day. Sadly, Saxon has now been sold, so we won’t see him again 😦

    Well done for staying on when Drifter bucked, too!

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Thank you very much 🙂 It worked quite well I think that this was the day after he had a shower – clean feathers and a trimmed tail add to the elegance, but also a slo-mo canter video shows off horses nicely 🙂

  4. […] why he’s suddenly decided he can’t do that. In fact I’ve just checked back to my Centaur Biomechanics videos – he was on the correct leg that day, apart from one brief time when Russell pointed […]

  5. […] a school horse). If you’d like to read/re-read the post about our previous session it’s here. I was concerned that Drifter wouldn’t be up to it – that I wouldn’t be able to […]

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