On stretching the horse ~ "My father always said, think of stretching the nose to the sand. Think that as a rider you can always give more and more, the horse will tell you how much he really needs to open up, from the tail, right through the vertebrae, through the neck, really stretched and round like a ball." ~ Ingrid Klimke
"For riders: It is hard work, takes more time than you have, and requires more money than you thought. You will learn more than you ever thought possible when you began in the sport, but you will never learn it all. You will never be as good as some, but you will probably not be as bad as others if you are willing to work. It is the best thing you could ever do, and even when you fail you learn, and even if you never get a ribbon it is still worth it. Stick it out." ~ Brian Sabo
The national weather service has issued an advisory complete with a mapped out cone of uncertainty for the “potential development of a tropical disturbance” which would be named Fred. Be clear: at the moment it does not exist, but there are indications that it might in the future.
This is a good model of how you should think about riding your horse. As you are preparing to perform a movement, don’t wait until the storm clouds are gathering on the horizon to think of packing a hurricane survival kit. (Click on Blog Title above to read full entry)
"Contact doesn't only refer to the hands, reins, and bit, but to the whole rider. A rider must give the horse contact through his entire seat. This means that his legs must lay gently against the horse's body, his seat must be balanced and supple, and his arms and hands must follow the horse's movement quietly and evenly. This create a smooth cycle of movement as the horse takes the rider with him. Only this then creates contact." ~ Klaus Balkenhol
If you feel like you need to wear spurs when you ride, it would be a good idea to go back to the basics in your training to re-visit the concept of your horse answering your feather light leg aids. EVERY horse can be taught this!
Ten or fifteen years ago the USDF proclaimed it the Year of Transitions. To emphasize that idea separate transition scores were introduced which bracketed lengthenings and mediums both in trot and canter.
Good enough. It’s better than just fading out or dribbling into false collection at the end of a diagonal. (Click on Blog Title above to read full entry)
"Since the criteria of a correct seat are the same as the criteria of good posture in general, being constantly attentive to one’s bearing when standing or walking is excellent training. A correct vertical posture of the head and the trunk on horseback is not a special posture applicable only to riding." ~ Kurt Albrecht
Secure your reins by keeping your bent thumbs pinched on top, but keep the rest of your fingers only lightly closed. Gripping the reins too firmly with all of your fingers will tend to tighten your forearms.
Throwing the reins away to the point that they are so loose that there are loops in them is not the answer to solving your problem of being too strong/tense/rigid in the hands and arms. You must be able to keep a connection, and learn how to be elastic within that connection. That is the only way to advance in your riding.
If your instructor is the type that teaches you the reasons WHY behind each aid or exercise used in each specific circumstance, you will become a more educated rider with a greater ability to be productive on your own time. So many instructors do not. And if you have the type of instructor who does not, you are much less likely to become an independent rider.
Many horses have a tendency to stiffen and hollow their backs when riders raise their hands up even slightly above that ideal position that involves having a straight line from the rider’s elbow to the bit.
Riding your lateral work in a forward rising trot can be a great way to add more reach and expression to the horse's gait. This is best attempted only after the horse is at least fairly solid in each of the exercises while ridden in a sitting trot. Shoulder fore, shoulder in, haunches in, renvers, and half pass can all benefit.
doing a shoulder in in a posting trot is a great way to add more expression and stride length.
If your trainer is not truly supportive.... find a better one! I am always baffled at how many riders stick with trainers who belittle them, and very often don't even really have their best interests at heart. Some trainers don't teach because they love teaching, but because they love to stroke their own ego!
By and large judges don’t like to give low scores. Most of us are equally unhappy at giving undeservedly and misleading high scores. We want to give the right score without running the dagger through our poor riders’ hearts. This situation arises more frequently and understandably at schooling shows where experimenting or dabbling in a new level can require a rider’s act of bravery with no certainty of success. (Click on Blog Title above to read full entry)
There are SO many parallels between riding and lunging a horse. If you don't ask for and expect things on the lunge like obedience, rhythm, good posture and carriage, and bending on round and accurate circles, you probably won't get them under saddle either.
When walking your cross country course, always take note of any markings on the ground that might distract your horse from the fence - such as patches of dead grass, or areas where artificial footing has been added. Some horses don't care about those kind of things at all, but many do! Be ready to ride a bit more strongly if necessary, with your own focus and intent clearly on the fence you are approaching.
When working on jumping gymnastic lines, don't always just set up the typical cross rail, one stride to a vertical, one stride to an oxer. That may be the ideal introductory grid for a greenie, but the more advanced horse needs to be challenged much more than that.
The horse's energy flowing through a turn is similar to water flowing through a tunnel. Just as the outside wall of the tunnel is paramount, a good connection on the outside rein is crucial to a successful turn.
Every single Dressage test requires the rider to change the horse's bend from one side to the other. At the lower levels, it may only be required a few times in each test. But as you move up the levels that number increases, with some tests having as many as 20 different opportunities to show the judge how good you are at changing your horse's bend. Or maybe how not so good you are at it!
Being able to change your horse's bend WELL will allow you to best maintain the quality of your horse's balance, carriage, rein connection, and overall harmony between horse and rider. This means improved Dressage scores! And most importantly, being able to make smooth, effortless changes of bend improves (and proves!) your horse's suppleness.
The ORDER of aids involved in changing the horse's bend is very important! It can make the difference between a horse that changes bend smoothly while maintaining the quality of the gait, versus one that stiffens and resists slightly every time the rider changes the bend.
MANY riders go to their new inside rein first... and that is definitely the worst thing that you can do! Read on to learn about the sequence of aids for changing the bend that will give you the best results! (Click on Article Title above to read full article)
"Dressage experts spend much time talking about the physical issues of correct riding: which of the rider’s legs goes where, how the horse’s back moves, what the horse’s hind leg does and so on. It’s true we need to know these details about the physical aspects of riding, but we must not forget that dressage is all about the horse understanding what the rider wants him to do. I think the quality of any performance is determined 50 percent by the horse’s fitness and 50 percent by the rider’s degree of success in helping his horse mentally understand what to do from a light physical aid." ~ Steffen Peters