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Posts Tagged ‘riding lessons’

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Trafalgar Square Farm

When you are caught up in the never-ending must-dos of book publishing, you can find yourself tired, your creative and entrepreneurial energy tapped, your head spinning and your hands ready to unfurl themselves from the keyboard and (instead) curl themselves around the comforting curves of a glass of wine, fireside. But while the pressure is undeniable, there is always a steadying constant: how thankful we are to get to do what we do and learn more every day about horses, riding, and how to be better at both.

In recognition of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, here are five lessons we’re thankful to have learned this year from TSB’s amazing authors:

Lesson 1   As horse owners, we don’t have to turn control of our horses’ hoof health to our vets and farriers, and just write the checks whenever they tell us we need to do something. It is possible to gain a much more thorough understanding of the function of the hoof, which will not only help us better comprehend what is required in regular maintenance, it will also help us advocate intelligently on our horses’ behalf when they are injured or unsound. It likely never occurs to most that we can and should learn the ins and outs of the equine hoof beyond the general knowledge absorbed in early barn jobs and from 4-H and Pony Club. But Susan Kauffmann and Christina Cline’s THE ESSENTIAL HOOF BOOK is like a bright light going on in a room that has only been candlelit. It introduces a whole new world of responsible horse care.

Lesson 2  It is time to pay attention to fascia—ours and our horses. Fascia is the gossamer white tissue in the body that connects all the parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems. In IS YOUR HORSE 100%?, equine bodywork practitioner Margret Henkels teaches how the warmth of your hands can release accumulated tension and strain in the horse’s body, and in THE NEW ANATOMY OF RIDER CONNECTION, biomechanics pioneer Mary Wanless explains how working with the fascial lines of the body can drastically improve your riding.

Lesson 3  Even when you reach the very top, the truly great continue to question their techniques, educate themselves, and strive to find new ways to do better by the horse. In TRAINING HORSES THE INGRID KLIMKE WAY, gold-medal Olympian Ingrid Klimke writes: “I train further, question myself, consider the views of others, and remain open to all riding styles. Anyone who cares to be a good rider must first of all work on herself: on her inner bearing, her general attitude toward horses, her physical readiness (of course), and on giving aids clearly and ‘with feel’ for the horse.”

Lesson 4  Many factors contribute to successful performance, but the most vital is discipline. In his long-awaited autobiography HORSES CAME FIRST, SECOND, AND LAST, revered US eventing team coach Jack Le Goff discusses the discipline factor in its many renditions, from the self-discipline necessary to train your horse even when it’s cold or raining outside, to the discipline of organization and making sure you know the rules, to the discipline required to be part of a team, putting personal glory aside with the good of the group in mind. This lesson translates particularly well to every part of life.

Lesson 5  Becoming comfortable in our own skin helps us become more trustworthy and better able to soften physical and mental resistance in others—including our horses. In the singularly fascinating book OUR HORSES, OURSELVES, renowned dancer and choreographer Paula Josa-Jones shares new and unique ways of incorporating meditation and gentle exercises in our self-development as horse people, noting that conscious work to quiet our busy minds and familiarize ourselves with our bodies’ shape and movement can help us find true connection with our horses, on the ground and in the saddle.

Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of time for family, friends, and of course, your horses.

—The TSB Staff

 

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LetsDance

When the circles seem to never (ever…ever) end and your horse starts spooking at his own pile of manure just for something different to do, it’s time to liven up your schooling sessions. There are many ways to make training more engaging, including imaginative uses of lateral work, props like ground poles and cones, and incorporating trail obstacles and challenges, even when you’re practicing inside the arena.

This exercise from 50 BEST ARENA EXERCISES AND PATTERNS is great for both English and Western riders and combines the turn-on-the-forehand and turn-on-the-haunches. This combination increases the horse’s agility and attention, teaching him to better respond to different positions of the rider’s leg, which in turn develops willingness and cooperation in the horse. This exercise will also help your horse become more flexible in his spine (especially in his loin area).

Are you ready to dance? Here’s what to do:

1 Tracking left, ride 3–4 feet (1–1.3 m) from the track. Choose a random point.

2 Begin, for example, with two steps of a turn-on-the-haunches to the left (no. 1 in diagram below). As you do so, lightly position your horse to the left. Shift your weight to your left seat bone. Use your right leg to drive the horse’s forehand to the left.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.04.47 AM

Diagram from 50 BEST ARENA EXERCISES AND PATTERNS (www.horseandriderbooks.com).

 

3 Pause. Then, for several steps execute a turn-on-the-forehand to the right (no. 2). Using your left rein, position your horse to the left. Shift your weight to your left

4 Now, again ride a few steps of turn-on-the-haunches (no. 3) and a few steps of turn-on-the-forehand (no. 4). Conclude the exercise with a few steps of turn-on-the-haunches (no. 5).

Note: At first, pause in between each turn so that the horse stays motivated and doesn’t become overwhelmed. But, as the exercise progresses, make your pauses shorter so your movements begin to flow like dance steps.

Tip: Don’t use your rein to pull your horse in the desired direction. Guide his turn. Look in the applicable direction. As you do so, turn your head 90 degrees.

 

What is you horse learning?

  • Sensitivity to the rider’s aids (especially the leg aids).
  • Crossing with his legs.
  • Flexibility in positioning.

 

What are you learning?

  • Refinement of the aids.
  • A feel for the various turns.

 

What if your horse is losing his balance and straightness at times?

Ask yourself if your horse is overwhelmed, perhaps because the turns are coming too quickly in succession? If not, your inside leg can often be responsible for this problem. Be aware that you do not stretch your inside leg out in front of you or too far away from your horse. Your inside leg should just be a slight distance from the horse’s side.

What if your horse executes parts of the exercise, without you giving him the aids?

In order to avoid your horse anticipating the turns, include forward movement and rein-back in between them.

 

50 Best Arena Ex-REVISED LG

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

For more fun riding exercises that get results, check out 50 BEST ARENA EXERCISES AND PATTERNS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information 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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The Four-Leaf Clover Exercise from TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES.

The Four-Leaf Clover Exercise from TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES.

 

Incorporating simple traffic cones or ground poles in your daily training and riding lessons not only provides visual interest and physical guidelines for your horse as he moves around the ring, it also gives you a means of developing accuracy in your schooling figures and transitions. In TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, trainer Sigrid Schope provides over 40 exercises that will help improve your horse’s movement and response to our aids, as well as your own overall riding experience. This weekend, try this simple exercise:

The Four-Leaf Clover

You need four traffic cones, available from many supply or hardware stores. You can also use four empty buckets in place of cones—remove the handles and place them upside down.

The four-leaf clover is a great way to gymnasticize your horse and keep things interesting in the arena, using voltes (small circles of 6, 8, or 10 meters in diameter) in a simple pattern. The cones will serve as center-points, around which voltes will be ridden. This makes daily schooling of circles and changes of direction more fun, providing a point of reference to help you ride a more perfect figure and increasing the horse’s attention to your subtle aids.

1  In one half of your riding area or arena, place your four cones in a square shape, with equal distances between each. My recommended distance between the cones is between 20 and 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) or 8 to 12 giant steps.

2  Begin the exercise by riding from what would be the letter “C” on the short side of a dressage arena up to the centerline (see diagram). Focus on the first cone to your right, and ride a volte around it. A correct seat and position are important when riding this exercise. Use your inside rein (inside the circle) to position your horse on the bending line, and weight your inside seat bone. Bring your inside shoulder a little back and your outside shoulder a little forward. Encourage your horse forward with your inside leg at the girth. The outside leg “guards” just behind the girth, preventing the hindquarters from swinging out.

3  As soon as you are back on the centerline, change the bend and make a left volte around the first cone to your left.

4  Return to the centerline and ride a few strides straight ahead until you are across from the second cone to your right.

5  Repeat the pattern you just rode, completing a volte to the right, returning to the centerline to change the bend, and riding a volte around the final cone to your left.

6  Finish the four-leaf clover by walking or trotting straight ahead on the centerline at X in a straight line.

Begin by completing the four-leaf clover at the walk, move on to the trot when the walk seems easy, and try the exercise at the canter when you are very confident in your horse’s focus and your own riding ability.

It is important in this exercise to prepare your horse at the right time for a change of bend. Think about your weight and leg aids; stay erect in the saddle. Try to ensure that the horse doesn’t fall out over his shoulder or swing his haunches to the outside.

The four-leaf clover looks easier than it is! It takes a lot of concentration on the part of horse and rider to complete this exercise well. And as you increase speed or gait, you must be more precise about the timing of your aids.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Get more great exercises using cones and poles in TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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

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