Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
• Horses: 0
The funny thing about diagonals is that they are a BENDING tool. You see, when the horse is riding a circle, the muscles along the outside of the body need to lengthen so the body can create a bend. The muscles along the inside of the horse contract, so that the horse completes the bend.
When you rise in your post, you are exerting forward pressure on whichever leg you rise with. This pressure helps the horse lengthen the muscles on that side you are rising with. This help lengthening the muscles helps the horse bend.
If you rise with the inside leg going forward, you are putting lengthening pressure on the shortened muscles along the horse's inside. You will often feel like to post "comes up short" and is uncomfortable. This shows you that the horse DOES have the correct bend, after all.
Now, if you find your self more comfortable when you are on the incorrect diagonal, you have just pinpointed a problem with your horse's bend. This, by the way, will usually only be on one side of the horse, not both. You have just discovered your horse is leaning on the inside shoulder and, as a result, is counter bent. You will have to work on creating a true bend throughout the horse before the correct bend will be more comfortable.
In hunters, correct diagonals are the LAW! In dressage, they are a tool. Incorrect diagonals should never be penalized unless they wreck the horse's bend. Unfortunately some dressage judges have forgotten that.
I hope this has helped you understand WHY we do diagonals, instead of just doing it because your coach says to.
BTW, a good exercise to feel the diagonals is to get someone to lunge you with a blindfold on. Simply bounce and rise....does it feel good? Change it and feel how that one feels....then do it again. The correct SHOULD, if the horse is bent, feel better.
Last edited by Allison Finch; 07-24-2011 at 12:22 PM.