Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hello!Time for more about riding the lazy horse....
As well as being tempted to kick every stride, most riders are also tempted to shove with their backside. The lazier the horse, the more riders tend to shove - and the terms 'use your seat' and 'drive him forward' imply that this is a good thing to do. But not so!
Think of riders from the Spanish Riding School, and how still they sit. It is the stillness of the world's best riders that sets them apart from the rest of us as we shove, wiggle, and generally flail around - especially on the lazy horse. The more you do this, the more you show the horse that you are a novice. Think of sitting more still - keeping your body firm, still and lined up, while delivering the message 'Me Tarzan, you horse!'
When you kick from the knee down nothing must move from the knee up. What happens to your thighs, seat bones and backside when you kick? Do you wobble, shove, or jerk? Keeping the same quiet contact with the saddle is not so easy as it sounds!
The movement of each seat bone just keeps it moulded on to the horse's back. It is a much smaller movement than many riders think, and must be controlled by the rider. It must be very reliable - no sudden surprises for the horse. When I look at a rider, I do not want to see movement in her breeches - her outsides (as it were) stay glued onto the same place on the saddle throughout the horse's stride, while her seat bones move over her flesh within her backside. This means that the movements are small and controlled - like those Spanish Riding School riders. Good luck!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Let's go back to speedy horses..... being able to slow down the speed of your seat bones and slow down the speed of the horse's legs is the key thing here. If the horse moves your seat bones at his speed, then 'he takes you', when you slow them down to the speed that you want and are in control of, then 'you take him'.
Another big factor is breathing. You may well find yourself holding your breath on a horse that speeds off with you - and of course, he may be holding his breath too! It works well to think of 'breathing for both of you' and 'breathing down into the pony'. This may sound like kids stuff, but I have helped one international Grand Prix Dressage rider make huge changes to her GP horse by breathing down into him! It totally changed his body quality, making him much softer and less brittle. Think of the breath as a colour that goes down through your body and into his.
Put your breathing into a rhythm with the horse's walk. Count his forelegs moving, and breathe in 2,3,4, out,2,3,4. Maybe you can do 6's. Make sure you think of the breath going down - many riders are upper chest breathers, who lift the front of their ribs with each inbreath. Try not to do this: your ribs can expand outward, but must not go upwards. That automatically brings the breath more down, and you can amplify this effect by imagining that the breath is drawn down into your pelvis.
Breathing hold the key to so much, and I will come back to it in future posts. If you are coming up to something scarey, deliberately breathe OUT - we tend to breathe in and then hold our breath. If you make yourself breathe out you can stop that from happening, and you automaticaly send a much more calming message to your horse.
All the best!