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Feeling the correct diagonals

This is a discussion on Feeling the correct diagonals within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Inside hip diagonal
  • Tips for picking correct diagonal on horse

 
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    06-19-2011, 09:29 AM
  #11
Weanling
For approximately the first 4 or 5 years of my riding, I could NOT pick up the right diagonal. They would say "follow the outside leg!" and I would try to, but it simply wasn't working. When I went to new barns they would put me with beginners who couldn't canter when I was already jumping just because of the stupid diagonal! Lo and behold, one day while once again frustrated by the diagonal...I checked the inside leg instead of the outside leg. I saw myself moving against the leg in the opposite pattern of motion to the horse's shoulder, and suddenly I got it. Now (2 or 3 years later) I really just have to check really quickly on either shoulder if I'm unsure
I am starting to be able to pick up diagonals without looking, and I can still tell when it feels "off." I can't really work on it much anymore because my lease really likes counterbending on straight sides so he can look around at what's going on around him (not around circles and turns thank god) and it makes it difficult to feel. You'll get it eventually!
     
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    07-24-2011, 11:52 AM
  #12
Foal
Hmm think it's about time I practiced mine again after so long I'm at the point of perfecting my sitting trot to expressive trots now which is a huge accomplishment in self two years ago I didn't even know how to sit trot properly so have hated it up untill two years ago lol! And fromwhen I finally clicked onto it till now is even a HUGE improvement. As I am only just getting into showing now that my tb is show ready after rescuing and muscle toning and adding weight and definition to him among all the training I have done with him in the two years I've mow had him for :)
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    07-24-2011, 12:20 PM
  #13
Super Moderator
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.
     
    07-24-2011, 03:19 PM
  #14
Weanling
It definitely gets easier and more automatic the more you ride.

My trainer drills on picking up the correct diagonal from the second the horse picks up the trot, so you don't even have to change at all.

She made me spend a long time doing a sitting trot, and feeling the horses hip drop, and ride according to each diagonal, then practice rising when I feel the opposite hip drop. Make sense? It really helped me.
     

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