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Dr. Beth Glosten is the author of THE RIDING DOCTOR.

Dr. Beth Glosten is the author of THE RIDING DOCTOR.

Dr. Beth Glosten no longer practices medicine but has turned her attention and precise knowledge of anatomy to riding (she’s a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist) and teaching riders, both in the saddle and on the ground (she’s also a licensed Pilates instructor).

In her fabulous new book THE RIDING DOCTOR: A PRESCRIPTION FOR HEALTHY, BALANCED, BEAUTIFUL RIDING, NOW AND FOR YEARS TO COME, Dr. Glosten provides a remarkably clear look at what our bodies “do” on horseback. Here’s how she boils down the attainability of “feel” (it IS attainable!), beginning with what she describes as “what moves and what shouldn’t move much” when you are riding at each gait.

 

You CAN Develop “Feel”

Consideration of how the horse moves opens the door to riding in harmony. Without considering the character of the horse’s gaits, you have no basis from which to improve the horse’s way of going. The horse’s character of movement is his raw material for you to work with. You must understand how you interact with this material before expecting it to change.

The ability to move in harmonious communication with your horse is the same as riding with “feel.” Some say feel is a skill you either have or you don’t: If you are lucky to be a rider with feel, you are admired. If, however, you are told you lack this skill, it seems you are doomed to a riding career of struggles. I strongly disagree with this sentiment. While some riders do seem to have a knack for moving naturally with their horse, I wholeheartedly believe you can develop feel in your riding if your position and balance are solid as guided by the Rider Fundamentals.

A rider with feel predicts and interacts with the horse’s movements and behaviors as if she can read the horse’s mind and body. A rider with feel always appears with the horse despite challenges or evasions from the horse. This rider seems to always know just the right amount and timing of encouraging or correcting rein or leg aids, and seems to be sitting inside the horse, rather than on top. The resulting picture, to the uneducated eye, looks as if the rider is doing nothing (but we know otherwise!).

 

Dr. Glosten on her mare "DG" at sitting trot: She keeps spine stability with her "abdominal seat belt" while allowing her legs to swing at the hip joint with DG's back.

Dr. Glosten on her mare “DG” at sitting trot: She keeps spine stability with her “abdominal seat belt” while her hip joints allow her legs to swing with the side-to-side movement of DG’s barrel.

 

Young riders have a particular knack for feel. With relatively little guidance, a skilled young rider develops the ability to move with the horse and influence him in a positive way. This is not surprising, as learning new movement skills comes naturally at a young age. As we get older, it becomes harder and harder for the brain and body to learn new tasks and make logical choices for balance and coordination. It is not that we can’t learn something new; it just takes longer and requires a greater commitment. If you are an older rider and think you lack feel, don’t give up. I strongly believe it can be learned and developed.

Learning and understanding your horse’s rhythm and movement at each gait, and how you, the rider, should move with them, puts you and your horse on the same page, and the door is open to ride with feel.

 

Walk: What Moves and What Shouldn’t Move Much

• Your shoulder and elbow joints move to stay with your horse’s head and neck.

• Your legs alternately swing slightly in and out at the hip joint, staying with your horse’s rib cage as it rocks side to side with each step.

• Your pelvis and spine move somewhat forward and back (but this is often exaggerated). The amount of movement of your pelvis when you ride a walking horse is similar to the amount of movement of your pelvis when you walk.

 

Posting Trot: What Moves and What Shouldn’t Move Much

• Your hands stay in a stable position.                                                           

• Your legs stay stable underneath your body.                             

• Your torso is in stable alignment, slightly inclined forward, while it moves up and forward over the pommel of the saddle, and then back down. 

 

Sitting Trot: What Moves and What Shouldn’t Move Much

• Your hands stay in a stable position.

• Your legs stay stable underneath your body.

• Your torso is in stable alignment.

• Your hip joints allow the side-to-side swing of your legs with your horse’s barrel.

• Your ankle joints move to absorb the up-and-down motion.

 

Canter: What Moves and What Shouldn’t Move Much

• Your arms follow the motion of your horse’s head and neck.

• Your legs are stable.

• Your hip joints allow the rolling back-to-front motion of your horse’s body, especially your inside hip joint.

• Your torso stays in correct alignment, without excess rocking forward and back. The more collected the canter, the less your torso rocks; it adopts a more up-and-down motion with your horse.

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

 

Learn more from Dr. Beth Glosten, plus get over 50 step-by-step exercises geared toward developing the riding skills we need to be balanced, effective, healthy riders, now and for years to come in THE RIDING DOCTOR, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

 

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Did you know that every horse has to contend with centrifugal and shear forces?

Come on…admit it…these aren’t the usual terms we toss around in the riding ring or during a lesson. But the physics of the horse’s movement, in particular on the circle or curved path upon which we so commonly ride him, have an incredible impact on his ability to perform optimally and move in a way that promotes longevity and soundness.

In STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE by Gabriele Rachen-Schoneich and Klaus Schoneich, we begin to gain a familiarity with the kinds of real and perceived forces we experience when working with horses, and how those forces impact the horse’s body and thus the way he moves.

Very simply stated, an object or being traveling on a circle behaves as if it is experiencing an outward force (what we know as centrifugal force).

When the horse moves on a curved path to the left, for example, the perceived centrifugal force is evidenced by the horse’s right outside shoulder falling out, which makes the horse concave to the left. When the outside shoulder falls out, the rest of the body must follow.

 

The red arrow shows the horse falling out through his outside shoulder.

The red arrow shows the horse falling out through his outside shoulder.

 

A speed skater has the same problem when he comes to a bend on the track. To counteract what we know as centrifugal force and avoid being pulled outward off the track, he crosses one leg in front of the other. The horse on the circle behaves in a similar way, as shown by the way he puts down his front and hind feet. Ultimately, such “crookedness” during movement causes strain on the right forefoot, as well as on the tendons, navicular bone on that side, and spine.

Shear force in the horse is similar to a pair of scissors: one of the “blades” (sides of the horse) remains fixed while the other “shears away” diagonally (see illustration below). Since the horse’s joints are designed for carrying him forward rather than making this sort of movement, shear forces place enormous strain on the contact surfaces and ligaments associated with these joints. The most commonly encountered consequences are knee and hock problems and gait irregularities. Shear forces place considerable strain on the sacroiliac joint, as well.

 

You can begin to understand how shear forces affect the horse when you imagine the sides of the horse as the blades of a pair of scissors.

You can begin to understand how shear forces affect the horse when you imagine the sides of the horse as the blades of a pair of scissors.

 

The good news is, with correct training, these forces do not have to derail your horse’s straightness and soundness. For over 30 years, Rachen-Schoneich and Schoneich have worked with, and successfully “cured” through appropriate gymnastic training, more than 4,000 horses with straightness problems related to the forces they encounter when being worked or ridden, as well as incorrect or insufficient training; bad riding; veterinary misdiagnosis; and poorly fit tack and equipment. In STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE readers begin to see how, with sufficient attention to gymnastic training on the longe and in hand, horses can be ridden without ever sacrificing correct locomotion.

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Click image to order.

STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE has just been re-released in paperback, and is available now from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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