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.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1816"You are connected with your seat to the horse’s back, connected with your legs to the horse’s body, and connection can only work if it goes through the whole horse and into the rider’s body, and from the rider’s body back to the whole horse." ~ Susanne MiesnerTip/Quote of the Day # 1815When you are looking down you will have even more of a tendency to ride from your hands. Looking up will help to remind you to ride from your seat. Tip/Quote of the Day # 1814
"Rhythm is more about balance than footfalls. Don't get obsessed with managing the footsteps, rather try to keep the horse bearing weight evenly in the hind end and the feet will fall into a steady rhythm." ~ Suzy Hettich
"Don’t let him trick you into too much contact. He is allowed to go into your hand, but not an ounce more. Never cover up in training, never one stride with too much in your hand. One ounce too much will build up too much tension; shorten the frame creating the reason to let go of the rein. Don’t accept that when you engage him, he becomes more rigid – bend him in, bend him out, test if the suppleness can match the engagement. Make him looser when you collect him. When I collect, can I keep him supple? If you don’t test him, he’ll test you. Expose him to a touch more suppleness in extension and collection – a little more throughness. If you don’t ask for throughness you won’t get it." ~ Steffen Peters
Question # 339: Kayla has another question about how to stay with her horse's motion over jumps. I feel like I land really heavily on the saddle on the back side of fences. Watching some of my videos (like the one I sent you a couple weeks ago), it doesn’t look like my leg is too far back, but I perpetually feel behind the motion when we land. I did shorten my stirrups and that has helped a little, but I feel like there’s a crucial piece that I’m missing in either my muscle tone or my position that would fix it, or at least help? (Kayla)
The rider's ability to smoothly stay with the horse's motion over jumps requires these 5 things: (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Tip/Quote of the Day # 1807
I love to look for an area in a field where I can do a big circle on the side of a hill, where on that circle the horse has to go down into a little dip in the ground and back up again. This can really help the horse to "let go" in their backs. The canter in particular usually feels loose and free when they come out of it.
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1806"I like to keep a little bit of a relaxed knee and thigh and close lower leg. I find if I have my calf close to the horse, I can really control how much pressure I’m putting on my seat. If I get locked in with my knee and my thigh, it’s very hard for me to control the seat, the seat’s putting more pressure than I want. Relax the knee and the thigh; keep the lower leg close, and then you can control very subtly the amount of pressure you’re putting in with your seat." ~ McLain Ward Question # 338: Nancy has a question about one of her legs, which tends to be too far back.One of my lower legs tends to be too far back. I have been told to get it forward by the girth, but I feel crooked when I place more weight in that heel even though I was told that corrected the problem. Not sure if muscle memory needs to be relearned... eventually it will feel normal? Or if the problem may be coming from up higher in my hip and seat. (Nancy)
This is a common problem! Very few humans are natually symmetrical to begin with. And many of the things that we do every day only serve to make us even more one sided! Think of how you... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full entry) Video # 314, and Question # 337: Lauren has a question (with video) about her new OTTB mare.I just got this ottb mare, who came off the track last year. She's hot but not out of control. But if I relax my seat and loosen my reins she is wanting to go into the next gait. She won't relax. She's very tense, but not in a scared way. No transitions or anything. Almost like she is still on the track. I did alot of circles, big and little. When she begins the circle she quiets down and gives her head but coming out of the circle (Or the other side of the circle) she speeds right back up. Do you have any advice on getting her to relax, and quiet down? I feel like our whole ride was half halts. Also during our circle she will fall to the outside, so i close my outside leg a little more and then she falls inside. Maybe im asking for the bend/turn the wrong way? (Lauren) (Click on Video or Question title above (in blue) to read the answer and the critique of this video)
I’d like to tell you about one of the most challenging exercises I was ever given in a jumping clinic. Before I describe the exercise to you, though, I want to set the scene.... (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)Tip/Quote of the Day # 1805
"When you do something too much, too long, it’s called drilling. That’s not a good word with horses. If it’s not perfect it's ok. We have tomorrow, we have next week. Don’t be excessive with the horse." ~ George Morris
"The more avenues of learning, the more rounded the trainer will be. The more variety of exercises, the more rounded the horse will be." ~ Andrea Benson
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1802"In between the fences, you should be doing everything to get the horse round, to influence the use of his body. On take off, soften those hands a bit more. You’ve done all you can – you can’t actually lift them off the ground with your hands. Quite often when riders go ‘Hup’ with the hands all they do is make the horse go more hollow. You have to soften your hands." ~ Matthew RyanQuestion # 336: Kelly has a question about an OTTB that she is trying.I’m looking at an ottb, and put him through some trot poles today. I believe it’s his first time over poles under saddle. He tripped over them and knocked them every. Single. Time. How do you feel about that in terms of jumping potential? I have lunged him over a couple of jumps, small only and he jumped ok. Other factors are super temperament and good looking, moves well, very active hind end. (Kelly)
This is actually pretty common... especially for highly strung TBs! Very often they have to learn how to slow their mind up to actually be able to think about what their feet are doing. Here are a few ideas to help him learn this. (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Tip/Quote of the Day # 1801
A tip for instructors... When a student has a lightbulb riding moment during a lesson, ask them to explain it you in their own words. This way it becomes even more cemented in their own mind, and you can more easily help them find it again if they lose it.
"Competitive toughness is an acquired skill and not an inherited gift." ~ Chris Evert
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1799Unless you are intentionally working on a specific weakness in a horse that has trouble making longer distances, it is best to school most gymnastic and gridwork with distances that are at least slightly snug for your horse. As the shorter distances will make your horse rock back more on his haunches on the takeoff, and will teach him to use his body more fully when jumping. Ruth's Blog post # 4: Questions to Ask Before Getting on a New HorseQuestions to Ask Before Getting on a New Horse
Last month we talked about the questions that I ask every owner of a new horse coming into my barn. Young or old, trained or untrained, it's essential to know as much about a new horse as possible. This month I will talk about the questions that I would ask BEFORE I (or one of my staff) would get ON a new horse. Horses come for training for lots of reasons. Whatever the reason however, you still need to collect as much information as possible to keep yourself, your kids, your staff safe. These questions are also very important when you are trying a horse for sale, or even riding a friend’s horse for the first time. (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)Tip/Quote of the Day # 1798
Always finish each ride on a good note. Do something your horse does well so he can feel good about himself.
It is possible to have contact without a real connection (in fact, it is quite common unfortunately), but a true connection always involves good contact. The connection involves the horse's entire body… with energy created in the horse's hind legs traveling through the horse's supple body, and into the rider's hands.
It can be a skill in itself to be able to pick up a quality canter or gallop in a straight line and jump a fence that is a short distance away (as you would coming out of the start box on cross country.) Like any skill, this one will only get better with practice. So this is something to practice at home.
Counter bend is a great tool when your horse tries to bulge against your outside aids. And following that up with a change of direction then further reinforces that aid, teaching your horse to have more respect for it.
"I think the rider's attitude in the ring is transposed to the horse's attitude... I think the difference between the good riders and good trips versus the outstanding trips are in large measure the positive attitude and inspiration that one shows to the judge and the way onetackles the problems of the course in riding the horse." ~ Michael Page
Tip/Quote of the Day # 1793"The relaxation of the mouth alone is not enough. It can be deceptive, because it does not necessarily lead to lightness. It has to be accompanied by the relaxation of the entire horse. When he relaxes the back, it will definitely have repercussions in the mouth." ~ Nuno Oliveira