Archive for January, 2011

Book one and four elaborate on where to sit and bending

Do You Sit to the Inside or Outside of Your Horse?

 In response to numerous requests, I am going to break from my series on canter work to answer the question: Do you sit to the inside or the outside of your horse? (Just for clarification: the inside of your horse is always determined by the bend.)

Using your inside leg as a pole for your horse to bend around is promoted by USDF.  It has been written about by numerous equestrians referring to the subject of bend.  In order for the inside leg to create a pole for your horse to bend around you must be sitting to the inside of your horse.  If you are sitting to the outside of the saddle it is not possible for you to have a pole (leg) available for your horse to bend around.  In fact you will have trouble with your horse falling to the inside and falling out of balance.  When you are sitting to the outside of your horse your aids will constantly push him toward the inside shoulder. When you sit to the inside of your horse you will push him off the inside shoulder. With proper use of the outside rein you maintain the position of the outside shoulder and can, in turn, control the amount of bend you have.  If you never achieve the proper balance by lifting the horse off of the inside shoulder, he will never have a clear idea of how to use his shoulders.

 Have you ever had trouble keeping your horse on the rail? Have you ever had trouble maintaining the bend in lateral movements? Does your horse feel like he’s always wandering side-to-side? Do you feel yourself pulling him one way and then the other just to achieve the basic movements in dressage? Most likely you could fix all of these problems simply by sitting to the inside of your horse.

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Excerpts from Book One, “Balancing the Rider.”

Canter Series # 6

Why  unsightly  canter work, when the rider has more motion than the horse?

 In the canter the horse pulls you forward, sits you down and drops your leg as outlined in canter series # 1.   If that is what the horse does with your body, why do the riders find themselves on the back of the saddle so they have to push on the first beat of the canter to get back in balance with the horse?  The answer is, when the horse goes to sit the rider down and drop the leg on the second and third beat of the canter, the horse isn’t able to sit the rider down where he should and drop the leg because the rider is pinched in the knee or the thigh is too far forward.  As a result, the knee and/or thigh block the motion of sitting the rider straight down, and the  rider loses balance and ends up too far back in the saddle, and must push forward to catch up with the horse.  So, a loss of balance takes place in each stride of the canter.   The rider believes she is following the horse, when in fact the rider is catching up with the horse on the first beat of each canter stride.  This becomes unsightly or may even look like the rider is cantering more than the horse.  Of course there are varying degrees of loss of balance in the canter. When you see a rider that allows the horse to sit her down and drop her leg on the second and third beat of the canter, it is beautiful.  The horse and rider are in such harmony that they look like one, the picture is indeed classical. 

You may ask a question, make a comment or just look forward to the next canter post.

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Excerpts from Book Four “Training the Horse After Backing Through Training Level””
Canter Series # 5

More on Canter aids

 I always say, ” the canter comes out of the trot work”.   Make sure your trot work is working well.  Once in the canter, brush the hindquarters of the horse with the whip from time to time to keep the hind legs underneath him and kick with your legs to keep him forward in the canter.  If the horse loses his balance he may break to the trot or go racing around the ring to maintain the canter.  Keeping the hind legs under the horse with your seat and whip will enable him to canter calmly and with better balance.  If your horse breaks, do not push with your seat to keep your horse in the canter.  Use your lower legs and whip to maintain the canter.  Use the whip to bring your horse’s back up and head down and the leg to prevent the horse from breaking in the canter.  Keep your reins short enough so your horse won’t go looking for your hand and fall on the forehand in doing so.  A horse always wants to know where your hand is.  With your reins at a proper length you can easily  sponge or  jiggle

Tia Tondreau Schooling a young horse learning the canter.  The horse pictured in the first beat of the canter. Pushing off the outside hind.
the reins as you engage your seat  forward as part of your half halt,  and bring the hind legs up with your whip, using all the aids together.  Your canter will organize with ease and grace.

You may ask a question, make a comment or just look forward to the next canter post.

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