Some horses like a contact with the reins all the way up until the point of takeoff at a jump, while others prefer to have soft or even loose reins in the last stride or so. Make sure you know which type of horse you have.
Any issues you have at the canter are usually there at the walk too, but just don't bother you as much because you're not going very fast. But it is easier to fix things at the walk! So don’t miss that opportunity.
Here is a trot pole exercise that will test your straightness and accuracy, while teaching your horse to more carefully think about the job in front of him, and what he has to do with his feet! (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
You don't really do yourself any favors when you cater to your weaknesses. For example, if you only like to ride with your whip in your right hand, and it feels odd and uncomfortable in your left - you need to make yourself ride with it in your left hand. And if you are uncomfortable riding amongst distractions or with people watching, you only better yourself by seeking out those conditions.
Problems can only truly be fixed by finding their root cause, and addressing that rather than merely addressing the symptoms. Address the symptoms alone, and they will keep coming back. Or new symptoms will develop.
In your Dressage seat, let your legs hang quietly down - close to your horse's sides for easy and intimate communication, but not tight, which would lessen your ability to communicate in a subtle manner.
When you give an aid, whether it is a half halt or an aid to canter - ask very lightly, and then wait a bit to give the horse time to process and respond. This takes the pressure off of the horse, which lets him think more clearly about what you are asking. This will allow him to respond in a more focused way.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how your driving habits might be affecting your riding?? Many of us spend quite a lot of time behind the wheel. And since we are such creatures of habit, many of the things that we habitually do while driving can easily become somewhat "normal" for us, showing up in other situations as well.
Since we have to be able to sit in a completely centered and balanced way when riding, with have equal awareness and control over both sides of our body to get the best out of our horses, we should look into every possible situation that might be developing the wrong "muscle memory" in our bodies. Here are some things to think about and practice when driving your car, that might help to improve your position and effectiveness on your horse! (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
Frequent quality transitions are the best way to confirm that your horse is listening equally to both the driving aids and the restraining aids.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1842"Every horse is different, but you learn to compare, what to do in this moment with this particular horse, and that takes time. Dressage doesn’t go fast, this is the difference between our young riders and our more experienced riders." ~ Reiner KlimkeTip/Quote of the Day # 1841
You have to think about how you can get into your horse's head, to win him over to your side, rather than trying to muscle him around. Horses usually seek where they are most comfortable. Always keep that in mind.
"Through the energy of impulsion mobilized from within himself, the horse is now prepared, in his physique and emotional attentiveness, to respond instantly to the slightest indications to change his tempo, posture, direction or gait." ~ Waldemar Seunig
"You are going to meet a fence one of three ways - short, right or long. Therefore you want to meet it on a stride that the horse can work from - a bouncy energetic canter - then he can add if he needs to and pat the ground, or say thanks for getting me here right." ~Jimmy Wofford
Typically, when a rider seeks out my assistance, they have a problem and are looking to get it fixed. Often their problem involves a strong emotional reaction to a specific situation that interferes with their riding, such as anxiety as they enter the show ring or panic as they approach a triple combination. Many are surprised, after they have described their problem, when I ask them to take a step back and look at the broader picture. Like most of us, my clients are highly focused on the problem and often believe that the solution lies in directly addressing that problem; changing some specific thing about themselves that causes the problem to vanish. (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)
The horse's lightness (or lack thereof) will be particularly evident in the downward transitions.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1830One sign of a well trained horse is that nearly anyone capable can hop on and get the horse to go well. It can be a good question to ask yourself now and then when you are training your horse.... Could other riders at my barn get on my horse and find him a pleasurable ride? Tip/Quote of the Day # 1829
A strong back is necessary for the horse to be able to achieve and maintain self carriage and collection for any length of time under a rider. Make sure you are not asking for too much too soon.
I would like to ask your opinion regarding a horses natural jumping technique and how much it can be improved. I can set fences at home to get him jumping with better technique but then we go to a show and he reverts to jumping like this. He had been having 4 to 5 rails every round. How much can a horses jumping technique be improved? My feeling has always been that you can improve what they naturally have to an extent but you're not going to turn a "3" into a "10". And right now I think he's a 3 or 4. (Kaley)(Click on Video or Question Title above (in blue) to read the answer and the critique of this video)
Tightly clamped thighs make you lose your nice deep seat, and can drive the horse's back down into a hollow position.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1826When strength is needed, such as when riding a strong horse, a rider needs to be able to find their strength in the center of their body - their core. Many times they attempt to find their strength in their arms or shoulders instead, and this is counter productive. As instead of being an anchor against the horse's strength, the horse thinks the rider is instigating a pulling match.Tip/Quote of the Day # 1825
"As a rider you always want to go on the good side. But you have to do a bit more on the bad side to make it as good as the good side. How many riders want to work the bad side? When I’m teaching, I see everyone wants to go on the easy side. But you don’t want to do so much on the bad side that you then upset your horse." ~ Charlotte Dujardin
Riders who get the best out of the sensitive type of horse are usually especially good at being tactful.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1821"There is one principle that should never be abandoned when training a horse, namely, that the rider must learn to control himself before he can control his horse. This is the basic, most important principle to be preserved in equitation." ~ Alois Podhajsky of the Spanish Riding SchoolTip/Quote of the Day # 1820
"Don't set the horse up when cantering over a pole - allow the horse to make mistakes and learn to adjust its own stride to negotiate the pole." ~ Eric Smiley
I recently participated in a training course on techniques and strategies to build core mindfulness skills. While there were many interesting strategies that will be helpful to my clients over time, I was struck by Sheri Van Dijk‘s presentation regarding states of mind. She focused her presentation on two specific states of mind, the Rational Mind and the Emotional Mind and talked about the distinction between them. I think the ideas she presented are directly relevant to what we desire as a performance state of mind. (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)
You need a short bouncy energetic canter in water. Not just to the jump in, but to any jump out or otherwise related to the water. Getting long and flat in the stride can be especially disastrous at a water jump.
Ellen asks…"My question: How do I go from being seriously anxious about lessons etc, to just being nervous but excited? I had a great time at Adult Camp, but it wasn't until almost the end of the 3rd day, I started to 'flow'. Thank you"
Thanks for the question Ellen. From my experience, dealing with anxiety in one form or another is the number one challenge that riders face. Whether it is anxiety about performing, anxiety about riding a specific horse, anxiety about a specific activity like jumping or cantering, or anxiety about lessons and/or riding in general; they all share the same basic challenge which is how do I regulate strong emotions. (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)
What you are used to doing will often feel right to you. That's why you should make sure that what you are doing is really correct, before you practice that way so many times that it becomes an ingrained habit - one that might be difficult to change.