Think of your stirrups as snugly slippers, soft and warm and gently supporting your foot.
Then, forget about them!
Instead of driving your heel down and pressing on your stirrup, which will cause you to push off the stirrup when rising, (took me ages to stop putting too much weight in my stirrups!) try to imagine tightening the cords in back of your knee and/or achilles to RAISE YOUR TOE.
Try not to tip your ankle, keep it level, always with the toe forward. Think of your ankles as the soft and flexible antenna.
The stirrup has absolutely no use whatsoever other than somewhere to softly rest your foot!
As always, enjoy
• Breathe deeply and calmly in the canter. Expand your rib cage
• The upper body should not move back and forth in the canter. Instead, the lumbar back should become supple
• Don’t be content with just any canter depart. Improving the canter depart will improve the quality of the canter
• The less the rider moves, the better cadenced the horse is in the canter
• Maintain the seat in the canter – That’s all
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
Until I embarked on this journey I had a bit of a phobia of being out of control of a horse. Don’t we all?
So ensuring my young horse is forward thinking has taken some guts, even though I say so myself! It all felt fast and furious and she kept popping into canter. For me that short striding, slow gait I had been used to seemed much more in control.
But a short striding, stuffy horse is not what I want. So I plucked up the courage to send her forward and allow her to go what felt to me like “too fast”. If she cantered I allowed her to do this and then within half a circle, half halt and back to trot.
For a while she did a funny half trot, half canter – The Tranter! which unfortunately isn’t actually a pace, which is a shame because she was very good at it and I think we may have got a 9 in the arena.
She was never “out of control” – just happy to go forward, which is great.
I was missing out for so many years and what’s more it’s not scary any more – feeling that power is awesome!
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It’s snowing, my horse has an injury so no Dressage for me!
Actually, no, this is an opportunity for you to consider all the other element outside of the actual riding that you need to perfect. There are many things that you should work on out of the saddle – ground work, horse/rider relationship, mental strength and training reflection. The mental aspect of dressage is crucial. Spending time honing the ability to think about 100 different things at once is time well spent.
- Firstly try to replay your riding in your mind
- What was good about it?
- What was bad?
- What do you need to change?
- What do you need to practice more?
By doing this, when you are in the saddle it will teach you to focus on feeling what is happening so that you can analyse it later.
And I don’t mean whilst cooking dinner or fetching the kids from school, I mean take time out, sit down and replay the videos in your mind. You may look like you are sitting doing nothing, but these images are crucial to being able to visualise how it should be and that will help you get there.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
Belief: Be able to believe you will overcome any difficulties you might face. Picture your success. Be certain of your attainment of it.
Patience: Success doesn’t usually happen quickly. We should be grateful for this, success carries with it burden, and we need time to prepare for the responsibility. Don’t give up so easily and don’t expect instant gratification.
Readiness For Change: You must be ready and willing to change yourself. It is ridiculous to expect success when you refuse to make changes that will enable your success.
Everything I post has the word balance in it somewhere. Ensuring you are ‘in balance’ with the horse whilst he is constantly changing centre of gravity takes time to learn.
The trick is relaxation of the lower body, which includes those buttocks as mentioned in an earlier post. The upper body remains upright, supporting itself.
You should strive for the lower body to be completely independent of the upper body. Feel like you could unscrew yourself from the waist and separate the two parts. Aids with the legs should absolutely not affect the upper body.
You can achieve this by noticing whether you are collapsing in the upper body with the effort of the leg aids, if this is the case, re-establish your position and try again until your leg is able to go ‘on’ and ‘off’ independently of the rest of your body. Once again, you could be putting in too much effort!
It will take much practise, but just being aware of when you have achieved it and more importantly, when it is all going wrong will help you get there.