I think Cinny and I had an "A-Ha" day today..opinions please - Page 2
   

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I think Cinny and I had an "A-Ha" day today..opinions please

This is a discussion on I think Cinny and I had an "A-Ha" day today..opinions please within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Low hands and tension dressage
  • Gait is very * some

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    09-18-2012, 06:09 PM
  #11
Green Broke
Okay, we got video today. Sigh... we didn't have a really GREAT moment like yesterday my entire ride. He was mad at me for putting his boots on, which I did so it's easier to see what his feet should do, AND if I am going to be working on more laterals he should probably wear them anyway as his has cut and scraped himself in the past. But he HATES wearing boots. I also think he was sore from yesterday as it was the first real work in about 2 months...we have only played since then. Needless to say, he didn't blow up like a balloon for me today or push into the bridle for more than 1 or 2 strides at a time.

And, for some reason whenever I know someone turns on a video camera, or I go into a test....I automatically do something, I can't tell what, but it causes a LOT of tension. I think I tense up or something. I did notice today that I tense my lower body and forget to relax and move WITH the horse instead of being some stationary object he has to fight with...I kept trying to remind myself, but....

And now that I can SEE what we are doing, he is decidedly NOT staying straight on the yields. It's more like he is moving his shoulders and letting his butt get dragged behind the movement. I kept trying to go until we got a really great one like yesterday, but alas it never happened and poor pony got warn out.... Towards the end of the video you see what he does when he is getting really tired.

Anyway I promised a vid so, for better or for worse here it is.

     
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    09-18-2012, 06:24 PM
  #12
Weanling
I definitely see the tension in your arms. Your hands look too wide and low to me. I know what you mean about the tension though. Whenever I go in a dressage ring, I forget I'm a rider, not a passenger. I do the pattern, but I don't ride as well as I know I can- then I just get mad at the videos :)
Look at her arms/position.


Also, what helped me was to walk a 20 meter circle. Take the horses nose bending to the outside and work on pushing their shoulders around the circle. From the ground, you should see the front legs crossing. When you get this then push the shoulders around the circle with no bend. Finally, push the shoulders with an inside bend (this is hard). Do this at the walk/trot. This really got my 4yo to relax her back and stretch down into the bridle. Remember to give when you get the right response. I have to ask my horse for an little bend inside and a little bend outside every step to keep her engaged. For you, I would say really make sure Cinny is forward, even if he is tense or has his head up. Then you can worry about closing the door once his step is more open or a little quicker.
     
    09-18-2012, 06:24 PM
  #13
Trained
I can definitely see some things that are better, and some things that still need work. By far my favorite thing in this video is how much LESS you are focusing on the head!

This being said, you are still pulling, and that is why Cinny is getting so mad at you and flailing his head. Your hands need to be side by side, resting on the withers. And then your reins will need to be a bit shorter. Where they are now, they are floating around in space and every time Cinny goes to take a bit of a contact or stretch into your hands he gets jerked in the face, pulled on or let go completely. It is because of this that he doesn't trust your hands at all and I wouldn't either! I cannot stress enough that if you are going to make any progress with Cinny that your hands need to be by the withers and quiet, and that your elbows need to be resting on your sides and not pulling back, ever. As you rest your hands and they become a source of stability for Cinny, he will start to trust the contact and stretch into your hands.

Otherwise - your body looks good, you are far more centered.

With the leg yield, if he is resisting, then take more than 2 steps, go the whole way across the arena. I wouldn't say that he isn't straight enough, at all. The forehand does need to be clearly leading, as it is in your leg yields. Just don't be afraid to ask for more sideways.

As far as the tension thing - that will go away as you focus more on your own riding and less on what Cinny is doing. You can only control your actions, and the more control you have over your own body, the more happy you will be to just be in the saddle and ride and not worry about what the horse is doing. The start of this is a more stable arm and hand, which will come when your hands are resting on the withers.
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    09-18-2012, 06:44 PM
  #14
Green Broke
Thank you do much,Anebel.

And your post brought to mind a sort of struggle I seem to have. Its regarding arms,etc. I don't know if it is because I have a long torso (when I was in ballet all my leos had to be custom made) or my arms are too short or what but, when I rest my hands on the withers,or near them or use a hand strap my elbows almost completely straighten. Then I have people tell me my elbows are too straight and to bend them more but if I do im told my hands are too high.

I am not meaning this as an excuse, its not....just what I am experiencing. Am I just completely misunderstanding what I should be doing from my shoulders down?? Are my straighter elbows but resting hands on withers okay for my current situation and when we get better,then change? Or is this too bad of a flaw in MY conformation? I think this is one of my biggest problems and I've been told 15 or more different ways to fix it depending on the person advising me.
     
    09-18-2012, 08:23 PM
  #15
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinnys Whinny    
Thank you do much,Anebel.

And your post brought to mind a sort of struggle I seem to have. Its regarding arms,etc. I don't know if it is because I have a long torso (when I was in ballet all my leos had to be custom made) or my arms are too short or what but, when I rest my hands on the withers,or near them or use a hand strap my elbows almost completely straighten. Then I have people tell me my elbows are too straight and to bend them more but if I do im told my hands are too high.

I am not meaning this as an excuse, its not....just what I am experiencing. Am I just completely misunderstanding what I should be doing from my shoulders down?? Are my straighter elbows but resting hands on withers okay for my current situation and when we get better,then change? Or is this too bad of a flaw in MY conformation? I think this is one of my biggest problems and I've been told 15 or more different ways to fix it depending on the person advising me.

I used to ride with a German coach about 10 years ago. By German, I mean German, but I also mean freakishly tall. One day in a lesson I was riding around and she was going on about something and then said to stop. So I did and she walked up to me and put my arm where she wanted it and then help up one hand at where my hands were, and the other at where she wanted me hands to be, held up her hands about 6" apart and said to me "Your arms are this much too short". So when I say I understand where you've been, believe me. I've been there.

The secret to getting your hands where you want them to be, with bend in the elbow (which IMO is less important then having the hands positioned correctly) is back strength. Your lats have to get strong enough that they can pull your shoulders so far down your back that your elbows actually touch your hips and you can rest your elbows on your hips. The other bonus with having really strong lats is that usually in the process of getting them, you're going to work out your core a lot too. It's that compression of the core with positive muscle tension that is what keeps the top riders so motionless in the tack when riding a huge extended trot.
Once your elbows are resting on your hips, it is relatively easy to get the hands low enough to rest on the withers. It should be really easy bareback as well. That's also another reason why I like wool flocked saddles, is that they will sit lower on the back and aid the rider's position better than an air saddle which raise the rider so far away from the horse.


Here is a picture of me on a horse and it is his 5th or 6th time being ridden with contact, ever. Not the best moment to illustrate how far, really the hands should be down but unfortunately as a factor of not being ridden outside of a round pen, ever, I was having to use my hands to steer a bit more than I would have liked!


You can see that were I to sit up the whole way, my elbows would be pretty well straight. Which, as long as they are not locked, is fine, IMO. It is more important to learn to have steady hands and a good independent seat than to have bent elbows. I'm all for functional equitation and sometimes to force to body to hold one body part still we have to sacrifice other things which are less important at the time. What is the most important thing to remember about elbows, is that they should be tucked into your side (no chicken wings!) at all time. If you feel the need to flap, then your reins are too long.

Good luck!!
     
    09-18-2012, 09:20 PM
  #16
Green Broke
Anebel, THANK YOU so so much. That explanation really made sense and made me feel a lot better (thumps self in head and says, see what happens when you ask an intelligent question instead of getting upset).

I have recently started working out at a gym, and I thought I had successfully pegged all the beneficial machines to concentrate on (not ignoring the others, just spending more time at abs/core machines and the thigh crunch one). Looks like I need to add all of the lat machines too.... I am really determined to reshape MY body into that of a real Dressage rider. Cinny isn't in this alone anymore....

Me: work core, abs, lats, inner and outer thighs.... and aerobics

Cinny: Topline work, aerobics.

We have a big winter ahead of us but I think by spring will will have greatly improved just by getting more fit and strengthening the areas that need it.
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    09-20-2012, 06:28 AM
  #17
Yearling
Agree with everything Anebel said. What struck me is how tight and braced you are in your whole upper body, back, arms, hands, everything. Your lower leg, however, is really nice. Cinny is really backing off the hand, not really bringing his hind end under him or pushing through, and looks behind the leg, but I think this could be sorted by releasing the brace in your upper body so he has a place to go.

The one thing I would add to Anebel's advice is concentrating on developing what my friends (in book and video form as well) Buck and Mark call a "soft feel." It's hard to explain a soft feel over the internet. You take a contact with the horse's mouth, but maintain elasticity in your elbows and forearms and it feels like this soft and spongy connection. You know when you have a brace, because the horse feels stiff and heavy in the rein, and it's up to you to soften and release the brace.

Here's a video of me riding bareback as well -- my lower leg is pants and my reins could be shorter, whoops, but the connection is soft; my horse simply refuses to go forward if it isn't. It's not as collected as she can go, as this was taken during our warm-up (that's when I was able to grab another livery to video us). I have developed all sorts of weird, bracey bad habits on her because she's a big, bouncy mover, but gradually worked through some of them. Except for the lower leg thing. That's horrible, but nevermind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOH5E-i56U4
     
    09-20-2012, 09:37 AM
  #18
Green Broke
Thank you Silver Spur. Yes, my upper body needs so much work. I agree with a lot of what you said. I also think I need to get more "fit." I am currently on a fitness program at the gym and after a week I see a HUGE difference in the way Cinny responds to me and in the way I communicate with him.

I am also reading "A Gymnastic riding system using mind, body, spirit" by Betsy Steiner. Cinny and I are on building block 1, Rhythm. I have vowed to go through each building block and work on it until we get it right and not move on until we have significant results. I see us getting stuck at block 3, contact, which is where we have been stuck for a year. But maybe by fixing the first two blocks, we can get past it.

But to get back to Silver Spur, I think that a LOT of my tension is from being unfit. I have to exert so much just to do the basics. I think Betsy addresses this best in a phrase of her book "Body Strength is necessary for riding, but riding shouldn't feel like one Herculean muscular effort. Effective riders don't go around with muscles clenched; instead they have achieved sufficient overall strength and harmony in their bodies to maintain their positions and balance in the saddle with minimal exertion. Then, they "flex their muscles" only when they need to do something extra, like give an aid or stay with the horse's movement during a buck or spook. In other words, the higher your level of overall strength, the less effort you'll actually make while you ride. It will appear as if you do nothing in the saddle."

Well, I have been a big blob of jello-ish minimum muscle for a while now (poor Cinny). I have so little that it IS an effort to ride correctly and I do tense and strain. I am working very very hard to change this. If I am suitably fit, it will be much easier for me to ride around relaxed as well as be softer and more correct so that Cinny can start to be soft and correct too.

My other book that I am working through is "Feeling Dressage" by Ruth Sabine Schaefer . This is another really AWESOME book and it helped to lead me to the realization that my Kieffer wasn't quite right for me.

I love all of your suggestions, they are making me feel like I am on the right track with Working on ME ME ME and getting fit where I need to get fit so that I can then be soft, supple, and a much better partner for my horse who is so willing and has such a huge heart and want to please me.
     
    09-20-2012, 09:58 AM
  #19
Yearling
I guess as a bigger picture thing, your goal should be to get him moving forward, with rhythm and relaxation, and bringing his hocks under his body. In the video, it looks like he's barely moving his hind legs and the gait is very unsteady. Some of it will be dictated by the horse's natural movement. I used to own a short-strided quarter horse and it was much harder work to get her using her body than it was for my current horse, but eventually she would move as nice as she was physically capable of doing and she got okay scores at Training and First Level. The reason I sold her, in fairness, was I wanted something with bigger gaits that could do more dressage, but for what she was, she did fantastic and could be a lovely ride. As I said, since she didn't have that naturally rhythmic and powerful movement, say like my horse in the above video or a lot of warmbloods, it took a lot more effort and training to just achieve that. But worth it in the end.
     
    09-20-2012, 11:07 AM
  #20
Green Broke
I agree, he has always had an issue with forwardness...but I think 75% is me, 25% is him (He is a paint with 3/4 QH and 1/4TB) as his QH type confo holds him back a bit while his heart and need to please me carry him the rest of the way. Foward is part of the "Rhythm" block in Steiners book. This month will be a LOT of riding on the buckle getting him to trust and move with a nice rhythm and then pushing him forward. I need to learn to trust that he isn't going to run out from under me during this...which is my issue. I think going back to this very very basic building block and fixing our holes will be a good start. This month is dedicated to rebuilding rhythm and trust. For me it will also be upper body fitness too so that I don't have to "strain" to hold him where I want to, I can just relax and concentrate on my hands, elbows and seat.

I think I will need an empty arena for the first week or so ha ha.
     

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