Q9 – Are You Pumping With Your Upper Body?

You have seen them haven’t you? Even at the highest level!!!!! Check out some of the Olympic riders!  In an attempt to follow the horse’s movement you see extravagant rocking back and forth of the upper body in the canter.

To a lesser extent at the lower levels you will also see this ‘pumping’ action of the upper body.  The efforts involved are actually putting the rider constantly behind the movement.

  • A tell-tale sign that the seat is not so secure.
  • It disrupts the balance of the canter
  • Makes both horse and rider’s back tense.

If you are guilty of this, because you are now behind the movement, your aids become delayed and less effective.

To correct a pumping upper body, revisit the development of your seat and leg position at the halt. Look in a mirror or ask a person on the ground to check to see that when you sit in the correct position in the saddle.  Check if you are in true alignment and are able to draw a line from your shoulder to your hip and straight down to the back of your heel.balanced position

Your leg needs to hang long and relaxed. Your seat must rest in the saddle in a relaxed manner, and you should feel both seat bones in the saddle.

Merry Go Round

Think about the motion of up and down and forward on a merry-go-round.  All very smooth and rhythmic due to the mechanical nature of the ride.  When your horse moves at the walk, trot or canter, your pelvis follows the movements smoothly while your upper body stays quiet, upright and balanced.

The secret is in the Core

  • To maintain a quiet upper body your abdominal muscles and those of the lower back, have to contract and relax rhythmically.
  • Try not to grip with your thighs because this will lift you out of the saddle.
  • Relax your leg muscles so that you can sit as deeply as possible in the saddle and go with your horse’s movements.
  • When your horse canters, allow his canter to ‘roll’ under you.
  • Keep checking that you are sitting upright.

As always with potential positional faults you should consider lunge lessons and work without stirrups.  This will help you to develop balance and really feel your horse’s movements in the canter.  By riding on the lunge whilst your instructor takes control of the horse you can focus on your seat and leg position.

Once you find and establish the balanced seat at the canter the pumping will stop.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

Q4 Is Your Horse Responsive?

  • How effective are your aids?
  • Does your horse immediately respond?
  • Are they crisp, clear and true?
  • Or are you having a numbing effect on your horse?

Dressage in its original form was developed as a test of the horse’s obedience.  Today your training should demonstrate that your horse is obedient to your aids.

I am a big believer in putting the leg on and then always immediately off – a squeeze and release.  This assumes that your legs are hanging gently at your horse’s side and only being used when needed and not clamped on for dear life.   In order to get your horse sensitive however, from this starting point you have to work towards the point where your horse actually will go from just a click of the tongue or the slightest pressure with the calf.

Which I explain in this post :  How to get, and keep, your horse sensitive to your aids.

responsive

 

“One of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple is harder than complex.  You have to work hard to get your thinking clear to make it simple.  But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

Find the heart of the matter and then halve it.

We all are guilty of not challenging ourselves when things are going well.  Goodness me, we spend enough time struggling to get it right without putting more pressure on once we have achieved something worthwhile.  But are we not seeking continual improvement?  My advice to you is that once your horse is established in his way of going and/or a particular movement, when you give the aids, half the applied pressure, quite simply to test if you can get the very same required result in a more subtle way.

If the answer is yes, next time half the pressure again, until you strip the aid back to its ‘essential state’ where in time you will ‘think’ trot, your body will automatically react by doing the absolute minimum required and you will lift effortlessly into the transition.

In dressage the aim is to seem to do as little as possible.  Clearly this is the ultimate goal but whilst you are en route you should continually work towards this goal in ‘baby steps’ by reducing pressure gradually.  By doing so you are teaching your horse sensitivity to the aids.  This may sound overly simplistic, but it works. Sometimes, just doing what you have always done or what someone else expects of you muddy’s the waters and overly complicates things.  Do what you do and see if you get the same results when you halve the pressure.  ResponsiveSee what kind of magic you can create.  Have a go, it will surprise you.

Have fun, as always!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

Shoot For The Moon

2017 is in full flow and now that the summer is here most of us will be turning our attention to what it is we want, nay need to do in 2017.

The end of 2016 was a very reflective time for me.  I lost my mum in November which was profoundly life changing.  Not just because she is no longer here and I have a big dark hole in my heart, but because she was so ill for so long that the anxiety I felt whilst looking after her has lifted.  I now seem to have so much time.

I got to thinking about my horsey goals and my competition dream which I  tinkered with in 2016 but couldn’t be pursued in earnest.  I got to thinking.

  • Is this still relevant?
  • Do I REALLY want to do this with my newly found and extremely valuable spare time?
  • Is the effort worth the reward?
  • Do I even have the energy?

Continue reading Shoot For The Moon

Q#3 Do You Employ A Following Seat?

Still with me?  Fantastic.  Third in the ’99 Questions’ series of blogs.

Self-Assessment Question #3 : Do you employ a following seat?

Do you move with the horse in walk or rely on the horse’s motion to move you?  Do you allow with your hips in the trot?  Do you do the circular backward hip rotation in canter?   If not, you need to understand that a little help from you goes a long way to helping your horse forward.

Is it me or is it my horse?

Your seat must follow the horse’s motion in a rhythmical way in order to allow the horse to move forward. If you say ‘go’ with your leg aids but your seat does not immediately follow the forward swing of the horse’s hips as he picks up a hind foot, you WILL restrict forward motion – guaranteed!

Continue reading Q#3 Do You Employ A Following Seat?

Q#2 Are You In Balance?

In BalanceHey horsey friends – Second post of the ’99 Questions’ series of blogs.  We have a long way to go to get all 99 in but stick with it, I’ve written 8 of them! lol

I’m trying to keep them quick fire and succinct with links to other blogs that might help you and to give you a quick nudge and provoke a thought before you ride.  I really think there will be something for everyone.

Self-Assessment Question #2 : Are you in balance?

Can you let go of the reins and ride without reliance on your hand? If you can’t you may need to go back to basics which means checking your riding position.

Find Your Centre of Gravity

To find if you are truly over the centre of gravity whilst the horse is moving, means verifying that your legs are in the correct position.  To do this lift your bottom out of the saddle and go into ‘half seat’ (at least).

However, iWarm upn order to check absolute alignment (and slightly more difficult to do) is the ability to stand up straight, with an upright back.  Do this from your seated position without gripping with your legs or using the reins to keep your balance.

If you find that you tip forwards or fall backwards, or if you find that you need to move your legs in order to stand up independently, then your legs were not in the correct position when you started.

Continue reading Q#2 Are You In Balance?

Q5 Are You Consistent With Your Aids?

Horses thrive on routine, doing the same thing repeatedly is how we train effectively, how they learn easily.  It is doing the SAME thing time and time again that gets us there.  So, if you try something different every time you train your horse will become confused.

  • How many of you have had the comment “needs a more consistent contact” from the judges?
  • Are you clear and do you fully understand and give consistent aids or
  • Could you, unwittingly, be creating creating confusion?

Developing a clear, non-verbal language with your horse means making a connection and is where your dressage journey begins.

consistentUnfortunately, expecting something to be difficult to achieve can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So, in order for you to begin the process of achieving a ‘usable contact’ with your horse you must decide for yourself that it can be done.  That is decide that yes, you may face obstacles that will be challenging for you; you may have to sort out a few issues; most likely with your riding but sometimes with the horse (teeth, back), sometimes tack issues (saddle, bit), but get your mindset right and choose to believe that you and your horse are not only willing, but more than capable (once all issues have been investigated and dealt with) of working in an outline; with a contact; on the aids; on the bit, on the vertical, call it what you will.

Contact

 

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

Q#1 Are You Relaxed?

When you sign up to The Crystal System Blog you get 3 valuable reports

  1. 5 Dressage Tips that could Revolutionise your Riding
  2. 10 MUST DO Dressage Test Tips that will Take your scores to GOOD or better
  3. 99 Questions to help you self-assess your Training Progress – (catchy title – does what it says on the tin!)

Report No. 3 is the ultimate, ridiculously long, ‘quick check’ guide and is essentially a whole heap of quick fire questions designed to help you self-assess your training progression.  Most riders print the report and put them it in their tack room, so that after riding they can pick it up and use it as a reference guide.

I thought it might be useful to delve a little deeper into each question so I am starting a new series of blogs to give you a little more information about each question and how it might help your riding goals.

Self-Assessment Question #1 : Are you relaxed?

Are there any muscle groups subconsciously tense? – gripping thigh, tension through shoulders, tense fingers, rigid jaw-line, rock hard arms, solid back? All of the above? Continue reading Q#1 Are You Relaxed?

Exercises to help with Collected Canter

Real Life Rider Lee asked me … ‘what advice would you give to help with collected canter’.  A really good question, the answer to which will help many.  Here’s what I think …

  1. Variations in Strides

First thing to do is to make sure you have properly established the working to medium so go for lots of variations in the stride, ‘on and back’ to get you and your horse used to the control of the variation in pace required, utilising paces you know you can do. 5-8 strides of each.  I am assuming you know how to do these on the basis that collection only comes into tests at Elementary/Medium level so working to medium trot will be well established.

  1. Walk to Canter / Canter to Walk

Secondly, one you are entirely happy that you have control over the variation and that means, you can control the number of strides, go for working canter to walk / walk to canter to get your horse absolutely on the seat and aids and encourage more hind leg.  Again walk to canter is in the Novice test, so you will  be accomplished with this.

Continue reading Exercises to help with Collected Canter

Haynet – Cream Of The Crop

How much do I love the blogging network Haynet?  I love living in the country, horse riding, farming, dog walking and all that outdoorsy stuff so I guess I am typical of Haynet’s target audience.  I also love reading stories from real people about their horsey and countryside antics.; finding out about the day-to-day lives and loves and making connections with like-minded folks.  If you have passion for any of the above you too will love Haynet and I think you should take a look round and join us!

I say US because I am now a fully fledged member of the team having recently been asked to become a member of the very exclusive “Cream of the Crop Club”. 

Continue reading Haynet – Cream Of The Crop

My Most Used Warm Up Routine

I am often asked the best way to warm up your horse for the training session ahead and this is something that I used to struggle with myself.  Exactly what is it I am trying to achieve, and how?

I have a number of routines that I use depending on the horse and what sort of work is planned but nine times out of ten I follow the same path, which not only helps me ensure that I am warming up my horse correctly but also helps to settle my horse if she is in a different environment.  Vertical 2Doing the same old warm up routine she does every session at home is familiar and well within her comfort zone (and mine!)

The other benefit is that when you are used to a specific routine you can become very proficient at it and can make adjustments to get you back on track if and when required in a strange environment, like at a competition.

Continue reading My Most Used Warm Up Routine

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