Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts from the written journal

I have always kept a journal next to my bed where I write down thoughts and pictures after my lessons or exceptional rides.   Thought I would share some of them from a lesson I had on August 3, 2011.
* When we ride, we want our horses to "rise" in the front, using their hind legs as the engine that gets them there.   A visual you can use is of your horse climbing stairs.  They will have to sink back on the hind legs in order to push themselves to the next step.

* To get more forward movement you need to create space for them to come into.   I have a tendancy to shut my knees and upper legs which in effect closes the space and pushes the horse back.   In order to counteract this I imagined a bowlegged cowboy.   Your legs need to gently drape around the horses belly with the closest part at the bottom of the belly (near your ankle)  and the most open part at the top of your leg.

* How many times have you either felt or looked down to see the outside shoulder poking out, destroying the straightness of the horse?  When I first started dressage I thought the best way to get him straight would be to pull on that inside rein.  If he's going out, we want to pull him in, right?   Wrong!   Think about it this way... if the left side is bowing out like big C, you would push on the part of the C that is furthest to the left to get it straight or to turn it back into an I shape.  Use your leg to push the body back to straight and the rein on the same side should also receive more pressure.  This was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp but try it...  the horse will respond just the way he should and you will go aha!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tango and the fox trot...

So yesterday I had my lesson and most of it was focused on the sitting trot and using your seat to gain a "perfect circle" of various diameters.   My instructor asked me to deepen my outside hip to keep the roundness.  As I tried to comply by dropping my hip I realized that by dropping I was also making it more stationary and not moving with my horse.

In the sitting trot it became more obvious that was not the real intent of deepening the outside hip.  If you are stationary you aren't moving with the horse.

I think of dressage ... well "good dressage" as dancing with the horse.  You are partners, giving and receiving.  There is a leading partner (hopefully the rider) that determines the parameters of the space you will dance within but both partners give and receive and move together.

With that thought... a great aha moment occurred!

Both hips dance with the horse but the outside hip is doing the tango and the inside hip is doing the foxtrot.  Both dances can be danced at the same tempo, but the tango is a more sensuous, deeper feeling.  The foxtrot is a light and lively feel.

Once I started dancing the two dances with my two hips... my horse moved with me in partnership.  Aha!

Thought occurred to me yesterday that I always have these "ah ha" moments either during a lesson or a ride and I would love to be able to come back to them when I am struggling with my dressage journey.   I could write them down on paper but honestly my handwriting is so poor that I wouldn't be able to read it later so typing it makes lots more sense.  So this is my journal of my journey.  I can't promise that everything I write will make sense to everyone or even that its accurate information. Its a journey. What a believe is true today I may find six months from now is not true at all. Feel free to read along if you like.