See v. Feel

This is actually a really practical post. I am not going to get into seeing distances or the even more elusive riding by feel. Best of luck to anyone interested in those.

This eerie light at dusk last night from the stormy weather in the area

Instead, I want to talk about how video lines up, or doesn’t, with what I think is going on underneath me when I am riding Eli. I try to get A LOT of video, but the majority of it is not to watch myself (although I do that some …. however, I am a slave to my bad habits and idiosyncrasies). No, I want to see how Eli is going, how he looks, how his gaits look, how his form is over fences, whether he is tracking up evenly, etc., etc., etc., … and I am hoping to get all this lined up with what I am feeling under saddle. How did this trot feel when it looks this way? How did this jump feel for this effort? If I know what I am looking for and I can connect that with how it felt, then I can learn how I want something to feel and can hopefully begin to produce it regularly.

Secondly, the reality is that Eli is a 14-year-old off-track thoroughbred. I video because I want to assess his soundness. Regularly. Okay, almost daily. He looks sound on video, what does that feel like? He feels weak behind, what does that look like?

Most recently, Eli’s shoeing changed up a bit. After this, for a few rides, for just a few steps of the left lead each ride, he felt “stabby” up front. What does this look like?

left lead from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Well, I don’t know yet. I rode last night with the hope of getting left lead canter on video, which I did (thanks, Brianna!). However, it did not feel stabby at all. His canter felt fluid, with some of his characteristic … we’ll call it playfulness. No hint of the previous feel of stabbiness, and the video lined up with that. My ride was also cut short because of the weather, so I didn’t get much canter work in at all.

Anyway, my conclusion is that the new shoe set up felt different to Eli and it took him a few days to adjust. Both the vet and farrier recommended I proceed with some caution for a while, because the angle had changed, putting soft tissue at greater risk for injury. I have been fairly cautious, I think. Eli had no work restrictions because of the change, but I don’t want to dismiss any changes to his gaits as inconsequential. I’ll be getting more video soon enough yet again, unless the hurricane blows in this way.

When you take video, what do you use it for? What are you watching for? Is it to improve yourself, your horse, both?

15 thoughts on “See v. Feel

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  1. I have a tough time with video, but love how thoughtful you are with it. I like to see how things look in reality versus what was going on in my head, but I am not nearly as thoughtful as you are. I have definite moments of, yikes that was bad, or wow, that wasn’t so bad. Which can be moderately helpful…


  2. Interesting thoughts from an angle I overlook so often. I love video to look at myself – when I can see something vs just hearing it, things ‘click’ much faster. (Like bend your freaking elbows HOLLY OMG) But super interesting to use it in conjunction with other data like changes in shoeing, training, bits, etc.


  3. I know enough about riding to know what my horse and I are supposed to look like. My body, however, fails to cooperate with my head 85% of the time. I love video because it helps me realize that no, I don’t look like Michael Jung on XC and maybe that was the wrong way to ride that bank. Also, I just love to see my horse go. When he puts on one of his good personalities, he’s super cool.


  4. I LOVE video. Not so much for soundness, but I so I can compare look versus feel. I k ow what I want thing to look like, but sometimes I can’t figure out what feel lines up with what look. Rio’s head/neck is super deceiving and it’s so easy for him to get BTV, I use video a lot yo get in my mind where his neck/head need to be so it’s in front of the vertical.


  5. I love having video to critique myself and see how the horse is going. Pace is a big thing for me right now. I can get a pretty decent show jumping canter but on cross country I feel like I’m going to fast (even when my trainer is telling me to go!). Watching video, I can see when we look like we’re crawling to a jump vs how a more forward, bold step carries us to a fence without Stryder actually running away with me (which is how it feels sometimes).


  6. I love getting video to see if what I think that I’m feeling matches what is actually going on.

    i also use it to try and see any lameness that is happening gradually enough that I may not feel it under saddle (8-year old OTTB with previous bilateral medial sesamoid fractures).


  7. I love going through video frame by frame with my trainer. My horse is so exceedingly straightforward that the way he feels and the way he looks is pretty much always the same, but getting to slow it way down and talk about the “why” and “how” of everything is SO fascinating and educational for me.


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