Today I got to sit in briefly on a lesson at NRHA Open Futurity Reserve Champion Marcy Ver Meer’s barn, Bar Double C Ranch. In Ver Meer’s program, every part of the rider’s body is analyzed for its efficiency. From the rider’s rein hand, to the elbow, to the hips, knees, and lower leg: they all have a role to play in cueing the horse.
Ver Meer explains that being an effective rider means you only use the body parts you need to cue your horse, without overemphasizing too much with your body.
Horses can be amazingly light creatures, when the rider is very conscious of how he or she is sitting, or using their hips, or picking up on the reins, or applying the lower leg to the horse’s barrel.
“Ride deep in saddle and open up your pelvis wide through your belly, so you can sit deep. Always remember – sit deep and wide. That will enable you to ride with your hamstrings and not just your inner thighs,” she says. Ver Meer also elaborates that from the knee down, you want to concentrate on making your legs as long as possible so your heels can go down and get below the horse’s belly, keeping your spurs from hitting the horse unintentionally.
“Most of the time, I’ll cue with my achilles heel or lower calf because that’s all I need. I don’t cue with my spur unless I’m chastising or correcting the horse,” she says.
When sitting correctly, the rider should feel their butt bones or “pin” bones as they are often referred to, in constant contact with the saddle seat. And when you have to drive the horse up into the bridle, your pockets should end up rolling underneath you to make you stronger and more effective. One analogy Ver Meer uses with her students is to try and get the rider to lope around and hold their knees off of the saddle until the point at which “daylight can be seen between the legs and the saddle.” It should feel as though the rider is floating around on the horse’s back.
And just because it\’s Tuesday and I feel like it, the first 3 people who send in their comments to this post will win a lovely Ver Meer hat. Adorning Marcy\’s 230 score and her \”Ride Like A Girl\” motto, chapeaus like this are certain to turn heads.