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This is a discussion on Diagonals within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    06-24-2008, 07:38 PM

I'm a very new rider (two hours of lessons and counting ...) and having been introduced to the concept of diagonals, I'm told that in time I'll learn to feel which diagonal I'm on, rather than having to glance down at the horse's shoulder. Obviously the biggest help will be practice, practice, practice, but what should I be feeling for?

My seat isn't very good yet, and as I'm still learning the very basics of riding I'm not very good at communicating with the horse via my bum! In my last riding lesson, my friend who was watching informed me that while I was trotting 20m circles, my horse was ... manuring the arena, so to speak. But as I couldn't feel that, I was urging him forwards with my legs while he was trying to go to the loo xD
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    06-24-2008, 08:52 PM
You will learn to feel the horse through your seat. Even if you don't belive it at this stage. Trotting on a 20m circle, if you are rising on the incorrect diagonal, you will feel slightly off-balanced and you horse won't feel like it's on the circle properly.
It just takes a lot of time, it's not really something you can explain, you have to learn yourself, through feeling it
    06-24-2008, 08:54 PM
I agree with jeddah.

I also know which diagonal I'm on automatically because going to the left I go onto the right diagonal but going to the right i'm not so I can change after changing my rein from left to right =]

If you find which diagonal you automatically go on first the time you change your rein you can change it and not have to worry about feeling for it haha xD

Well that's what I taught myself anyway cause I used to not have lessons.
    06-24-2008, 09:01 PM
Yes, practice is definitely what I need the most of! Right now it's all unfamiliar enough for the unbalanced moments to be happening for all sorts of reasons, not just being on the wrong diagonal, but I know with time it'll come to me. I do latin and ballroom dancing at university, so I know how it feels when practice makes something click. I was never very co-ordinated until I started dancing, so I'm hoping that as I grew my dancing feet, I'll grow my riding seat and things will just become natural and instinctive.

I've already noticed, however, that I have a tendency to look at the horse's right shoulder every time, rather than his outside one. Must curb that before it becomes a habit and I'm on the wrong diagonal half the time!

I'm also having trouble with losing my stirrups a little sometimes, having my foot slide about in them. I know from my instructor that dropping my weight into my heels will stop this from happening, but right now I seem to be tensing my legs up quite a bit, stopping me from doing that! I know that practice, practice, practice is the key, and two lessons a week really doesn't feel like enough when I'm itching to get out and learn every day!
    06-24-2008, 09:08 PM
Green Broke
The easiest thing to remember is that you move with the outside or rail shoulder, when it moves forward so do you, even though you will move more up than forward :roll:

Another thing you can do is actually say "up, down, up, down, up, down" so that you don't lose your place.... I know it sounds dumb, but that's what I did when I learned to post
    06-24-2008, 09:21 PM
Glancing down for a sec is okay, I have to do that myself sometimes. But usually I just feel it. Keep practicing, you'll get it!
    06-24-2008, 10:01 PM
Green Broke
To feel a diagonal you need to first be able to feel where your horse's hind legs are (which is crucial for more advanced riding later on). At a trot your horse's footfalls will be going in what's called a diagonal pair. For example, the first beat would be your horse's outside front leg going forward at the same time as your horse's inside hind. Second beat your horse's inside front will go forward as his outside hind goes forward. So since you stand when his outside front goes forward, you also go forward when his inside hind goes forward.

I find the best way to learn where your horse's hind legs are is from a sitting trot without stirrups. Try to get the feel of his hind leg actually rising and swinging forward. Look down to begin, and then say to your self, now, now, now, now, every time it moves.
    06-25-2008, 07:27 AM
Originally Posted by mlkarel2010
another thing you can do is actually say "up, down, up, down, up, down" so that you don't lose your place.... I know it sounds dumb, but that's what I did when I learned to post
I did that a lot my first few times trotting - I get muddled quite easily, and in my dancing I'm always murmuring the rhythm under my breath too.

I'm pretty aware of the movement of the horse's hind legs when I'm in a walk, but when concentrating on trotting I don't have as much mental space to think about it all. I guess as more and more of trotting becomes natural and automatic, it'll all be able to come together.

My mum (total beginner), myself and my best friend (experienced rider, used to hunt, but out of practice) are hoping to ride here this weekend (my friend has been there lots of times before) and my own private plan is to work on feeling my diagonals during that ride. Just getting more aware of how it feels to be on the horse and what my bum can tell me.
    06-25-2008, 09:57 AM
Originally Posted by mlkarel2010
the easiest thing to remember is that you move with the outside or rail shoulder, when it moves forward so do you, even though you will move more up than forward :roll:

Another thing you can do is actually say "up, down, up, down, up, down" so that you don't lose your place.... I know it sounds dumb, but that's what I did when I learned to post
I learned it "rise and fall with your leg on the wall" same thing different words!!. I had a few people give me tips here and there but mostly I rode by myself. I would glance down every once and awhile to verify I was still in it. With more hours in the saddle you will start to learn your hroses stide and feel. Just keep practicing and asking questions. The best thing would be getting someone knowing what to look for assisting you and telling you when you bounced out of the wrong one (or hit the correct one) until you get a feel of it.
    06-25-2008, 11:25 AM
Green Broke
When I was teachng equitation lessons (gosh that's been a while now), I would always tell my students when looking at the horse's shoulder that it is easier to sit when the outside leg is back than it is to try to rise when it's forward...

Don't know if that made sense...haha

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