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Posts Tagged ‘riding instruction’

The rider’s trunk and extremities interact and depend on each other. For example, hands and arms depend on shoulder position, which depends on the shoulder girdle, which depends on the position of the spinal column (in particular, the thoracic spine). All of this interconnectedness means that the common instruction heard in riding rings round the world, “Shoulders back!” is detrimental to correct and supple rider position—in fact, it leads to stiffness and tension.

“If you simply take the shoulders back without changing the position of the trunk,” explains Susanne von Dietze in her classic bestseller BALANCE IN MOVEMENT, “you exert a lot of energy and become cramped up in the process. It is a position you would not endure for long on a voluntary basis. Instead, start to straighten from the pelvis. The thorax is lifted automatically upward and forward; it is like pushing the thorax under the shoulder girdle. The building blocks of the upper body are then aligned once more and the shoulder girdle can be carried without any muscular effort.”

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“There are a few very beneficial stretching exercise for the shoulder girdle,” von Dietze goes on. “One of the ailments of our civilized society—poor posture—especially when sitting, often causes the shoulder girdle to slide forward. In the long term this means severe tension in the area of the back of the neck, since the shoulder girdle is suspended there on the muscles of the neck instead of resting on the thorax. As a result the muscles in the front chest area shorten.”

Here is one exercise von Dietze recommends to stretch the often shortened musculature in the front of the body and open the thorax for better and more effective riding position:

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1  Stand with your back close to your horse’s side.

2  Bend your arms at the elbows and try to open them to the sides, touching your horse’s body with your lower arms.

3  Then try to stretch your arms out to full length, and if your horse allows it, lean your back gently against his side. This stretches your thoracic spine, expands your front chest muscles, and opens your thoracic cavity and breathing.

 

You can begin to understand more common riding mistakes and find ways to fix them in BALANCE IN MOVEMENT, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Horsepower…it’s what revs that Ferrari’s engine and makes the chainsaw growl. The term is said to have been invented by the engineer James Watt who was famous for his work to improve the performance of steam engines. He determined that mine ponies could move a certain amount of coal in a minute and used this to come up with an arbitrary unit of measure (the rate at which “work” is done) that has made its way down through the centuries.

Those of us who ride know the true meaning of “horsepower.” The energy generated by our horses is what propels us over a jump, after that cow, or down the centerline with pizzazz. We learn how to “energize” our horses (ask them to work harder) and “quiet” them (calm them, relax them). Of course, some horses seem to need to be influenced more one way or the other. And it can take time and experience for us to learn how to figure all that out.

“Imagine the energy scale like the flame of a gas stove,” writes dressage trainer Beth Baumert in her bestselling book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS. “You can regulate the energy by turning it up or down. Your seat, leg, and hand regulate the horse’s energy: The lower leg and seat, together with a following torso and hand, ask for more energy. The seat that pushes against the fixed hand in a half-halt asks for less. Brilliance comes from increasing the power, but too much energy, or misdirected energy, makes tension and lack of feeling.”

So how do you know when your horse has the right amount of energy?

energy1

Flame too low: not enough energy.

3 Signs There’s Not Enough Energy

• The contact might feel inconsistent like lights that are flickering or sometimes even going out.
• Half-halts don’t work because his energy doesn’t reach your hands.
• Instead of feeling that the walk, trot, and canter are self-perpetuating, your horse feels like a wind-up toy that winds down too easily. Whereas some “reminding aids” are always necessary, you shouldn’t need to remind your horse constantly.

If your horse doesn’t have enough energy, focus on upward transitions that add horsepower. Do exercises that include lengthenings and medium paces. Combine them with suppling exercises—circles, lateral work, half-halts, and downward transitions that help close your horse’s frame and recycle the energy so he’s in a better position to do the forward, energy-producing exercises. Use of cavalletti can achieve the right amount of energy without losing relaxation.

energy2

Flame too high: too much energy.

3 Signs There’s Too Much Energy 

• Your horse is lacking a clear rhythm: it feels hurried or hectic.
• He is too strong in the hand and stiff in downward transitions.
• You feel as if your horse is zooming out from underneath you—moving away from your seat rather than staying balanced under it.

If your horse’s energy is coming from the front-pulling engine, use exercises that will help your horse think about and use his hindquarters. Circles and voltes shape him in bend. Downward transitions, half-halts, corners, and turns make him softer and better balanced. Leg-yield, turn-on-the-forehand, shoulder-fore, turn-on-the-haunches, and lateral exercises encourage looseness and connection from behind. The turn-on-the-forehand reminds the horse that the leg aid influences the hindquarters, not his forehand.

energy-3

Flame just right: ideal energy.

3 Signs The Amount of Energy Is Ideal

• The energy and the rhythm are both self-perpetuating. Your horse doesn’t become slower or faster on his own, and he doesn’t gain or lose energy on his own. 
• You have control of the length of stride. Your horse doesn’t lengthen or shorten the stride on his own. As a result, you have control of the speed or ground coverage.
• Your horse is balanced enough so the “Whoa” and “Go” buttons work equally well. He should have the power and suppleness to go forward promptly and to slow down easily. You feel you’re being carried forward.

 

For more information on creating and containing the right amount of energy under saddle, check out WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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We like to think we have all the time in the world to spend with our horses...but the reality is, we have lists of things to do and an alarm waiting to tell us it's time to do them.

We like to think we have all the time in the world to spend with our horses…but the reality is, we have lists of things to do and an alarm waiting to tell us it’s time to do them.

 

TSB is THRILLED to introduce two new books that provide easy-to-do lessons that will improve your riding, your horsemanship, and your horse…and hold your horses, folks…all it takes is 3 to 5 minutes a day!

How can this be? If there is any “one thing” the great horsemanship mentors preach en masse it is to be patient, to give your horse time, to avoid rushing, ignore deadlines, and blow off dinner dates in order to ensure you end on a “positive note.” Okay, so that all reads like more than “one thing,” but in our technologically tick-tocking modern-day existence, it all boils down to the little alarm on our phones, and I’m willing to bet that when it comes to most of us, that alarm is reminding us that we don’t actually have all the time in the world to play with our horses.

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

Rest easy, folks! We can, in fact, still work with horses in a safe and conscientious manner, even when time sure ain’t on our side. And Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK, is back to tell us how with a whole new concept for achieving big changes in your horsemanship and your horse by starting very small.

In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP: 60 Amazingly Achievable Lessons to Improve Your Horse (and Yourself) When Time Is Short Vanessa shows how it really is possible to carry out good quality, progressive training with a horse in only three minutes a day. She gives readers groundwork and ridden exercises, with each lesson intended to need only three minutes to be effective. Then Vanessa links together her 3-Minute Exercises to demonstrate how all the “small lessons” come together when you need them to, so you and your horse are fully prepared to deal with all kinds of “real life scenarios” in a safe and sane way.

Intrigued? Check out the excerpt from 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP in the February issue of Equus Magazine to find out more, or CLICK HERE NOW to order.

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

And wait, there’s more! Wendy Murdoch’s 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES: Simple Solutions to Better Jumping Performance—In No Time is the follow-up to her wildly popular bestseller 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING. In her new book, Wendy provides more of her cleverly conceived and uniquely effective “Fixes” so that readers can achieve better balance in the saddle, improve their body control from head to toe, and increase their influence with their seat. These tips and tricks can make a difference for any rider, whether you simply trot cavalletti in the schooling ring and hop small logs on the trail, or train to compete in the hunter, jumper, or equitation ring.

You can read a featured lesson from 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES in the February issue of Practical Horseman Magazine, or CLICK HERE NOW to order.

Equus and Practical Horseman are available wherever quality equestrian magazines are sold.

 

Trafalgar Square Books is the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs. Visit our online bookstore www.HorseandRiderBooks.com where shipping in the US is FREE.

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