Sur le Mors - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 21 Old 01-28-2012, 04:51 PM
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‘Sur le mors’ (fr) = ‘on the bit’ (eng).

Many of the British ideas on horse and rider training originate from publications by the British Horse Society especially the BHS Manual of Equitation (ISBN 0-872119-33-6)

Page 88 Quote :

The horse is on the bit if:
The hocks are correctly placed

The neck is more or less raised and arched, according to the stage of training and the extension and collection of the pace

He (the horse) accepts the bit without resistance with a light and soft contact, a relaxed jaw and submission throughout his body

The head remains steady and, as a rule, slightly in front of the verticle

A supple poll is the highest point of the neck
Whether or not this clarification of the term ‘on the bit’ is in accordance with that laid down by a French or Austrian horsemaster from a byegone era or indeed a modern German horsemaster, would, for cultural reasons, be irrelevant to the BHS which usually follows its own British traditions. That a mature horse rider active since the mid 1970s would not understand nor be able to visualize from the BHS description whether a horse is truly ‘on the bit’ once would have been irrelevant in polite English horsey company.

Now it does matter as Dressage grows as a sport in England. The Brits are coming.

In the era of the mid ‘70s in which I learned to ride, the pertinent factors when judging a horse rider would be whether the horse for the day could be asked to jump off a sloping grassy bank and over a four foot high and four foot wide field hedge in pursuance of a galloping Hunt Master whose hounds were chasing a wily fox.
Nowadays one of the key issues to be considered is whether the horse carries itself in a rounded outline around a quiet and level sandy arena. Times have changed.

Horses mean all things to all (wo)men . It comes as no surprise that equestrian terminology when used internationally is open to misinterpretation, especially by riders new to the sport or those who keep their horses purely as pets.

Nowadays attitudes in Britain are changing. The seat currently adopted is different from that which once was taught. The styles of riding which the German, the Dutch and the French riders adopt are very relevant otherwise the English riders will be marked down in international competition for reasons of non compliance to fashion. Concepts about how to ride must be adapted in order to bring success and to win.

However the riding fashions of the old Parisian circuses are less relevant. It is the future styles of the competitive sport of international dressage which now matter. For the time being, classically trained riding horses have a secure role in the displays given to tourists by the cavalry schools in Jerez, Saumur and Vienna.

Undoubtedly more has to be done in English riding schools to teach the theories behind horse riding and in accordance with classical ideas. The technology to explain better the principles is readily available. Perhaps being able to survive a lively day of fox hunting is no longer enough.

But I suspect we shall leave it with the Germans to translate accurately the writings of the old masters into English.
xxBarry Godden is offline  
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post #12 of 21 Old 06-13-2012, 10:51 PM
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Thank you so much for this. It's so inspiring

Juliane Dykiel
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post #13 of 21 Old 08-19-2012, 10:07 AM
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Sur le mors = on the bit

I found this article I had written some time ago and this subject is important in today's world of riding. So here it is :

Attached is a photo of myself and DiDi doing our stuff in the arena .Notice that she had a rounded outline, was on the bit and that everything, including my feet, looked ‘kosher‘. This state of affairs, this turning away from a lifetime’s riding with my weight pushed firmly down into the stirrups, had come about because of a local lady trainer. It turned out she was not only an excellent trainer but also a well known dressage judge. However, it would be unlikely that I should enter any competitions.

During a lesson, after half an hour or so at the walk going round and round in circles, we would break into trot. My right calf would be pressed against the horse’s side, just like a piece of wet rag draped around a glass. My left calf was to hang slightly back preventing the horse’s butt from breaking left and so encouraging the horse to bend. The undersides of my thighs were to stop the horse from rushing; I was to sit upright (it seemed to me that I was leaning back) at the same time I was to push down to keep the horse moving. My hands were to hold the reins in such a way that eventually the horse gave way and bent its neck at the poll at which time, the pressure on my hands would significantly reduce. I was to encourage the horse to bend by an occasional light movement of the fingers. When turning right I was to look upwards and over to the right so that my shoulders would turn; at the same time there was to be slightly more weight down on the right side of the saddle. My heels must “fall” down so that my toes pointed upwards. All this effort was necessary to go round a corner in an arena.

Of course, the horse must keep a steady rhythmic pace without speeding up or slowing down. I had to change the diagonals at the corner and on the long stretches I was to encourage the horse to lengthen its stride and step out whilst on the short sides it was to slow the horse down and to shorten its paces. When doing all this I should not tense up - neither was I to tilt off to the right or to the left.
Needless to say, when I eventually dismounted from the horse I felt like a wet rag.

DiDi amazingly did it all. I could not believe that if I “flexed” my under thigh, she would slow down. She would mostly, but not always, come down onto the bit and bend at the poll. She would slow down and speed up on command. However towards the end of the session, sometimes there was a slight “droop” as she gets tired and she started to sweat up. This schooling did make her tired. It made me exhausted.

What all this had to do with riding a horse at speed along a woodland track, I simply did not know. It felt like I had gone over to the other side. But I had to confess that some of my confidence was coming back. If DiDi expected to be treated like this, and if I could learn to ride like this without too much effort, then maybe it might all be worthwhile.

The trainer said after the first lesson, that she would give me six weeks to improve and then she would review the situation to see if it made any sense to carry on. I had absolutely no doubt that she has eyes on DiDi, whom she firmly believed was too good for me.
She had muttered once or twice that: “DiDi is a nice pretty little mare“.
She had muttered that: “ it was not fair to take my money if there would be no long term improvement“.

And I was not allowed out into the lanes until she had given her permission.

It seemed that the fundamental mistake I had made when buying DiDi, was to buy a horse that had been well schooled by a classically trained rider. I had bought fillet steak when I should have bought mince meat. In fact, I had thought that by buying an Irish Draught X Connemara I would avoid the problems expected from owing some sort of fancy warm blood but apparently it did not work that way. Needless to say after meeting up with this instructor and by having a modicum of success in learning to ride like a poofter, I was beginning to have some fun out of owning this horse.

What now I could also understand was just why Joe got so pissed off with that other trainer who had tried to school my previous cob in the Classical Way of going. Whilst DiDi believed that this was the way to do things; Joe thought it was all a load of poppycock.

All I could think was that it had taken me 40 years to learn what exactly “on the bit” means - if indeed I do properly understand the expression: ‘Sur le mors’

xxBarry Godden is offline  
post #14 of 21 Old 08-19-2012, 10:54 AM
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Reading this kind of amazes me. If a trainer told me or implied that my horse was wasted on me and that I couldn't hack her out when and where I pleased, they wouldn't have been my trainer for very long.

I reserve the right to ride with terrible equitation.
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post #15 of 21 Old 08-19-2012, 11:45 AM
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Oh Silver - for we men to be advised by a woman wearing thigh high boots and
having a strident voice saying that we are not worthy of the horse we ride is not an uncommon experience. But we press on.

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post #16 of 21 Old 08-20-2012, 11:17 AM
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Perhaps. But I still had the reaction, "Who does that??" when I read your post.

In my view, the job of the trainer is to help the horse and rider improve together, within their capabilities and limitations, whatever they might be. Not to say, "If you haven't made any significant improvements and learned to ride dressage in six weeks, I'm taking your ride from you." Ridiculous.
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post #17 of 21 Old 08-20-2012, 04:07 PM
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Silver - no what she was saying that if I could not show that I had changed my style of riding from my historic way of riding forwards 'a la hunting style; to the modern way of 'rounded and 'on the bit', then it would be appropriate for me to continue to ride in the style which I had used for thirty five years. But if that was the outcome, then my horse would have to adjust to me , rather than me adjusting to it.

However, as it turned out it would have been wrong for me to confuse her my horse who was proving to be adept at modern dressage.

I had the choices ie
adapt to a different way of riding
or to continue in my own style
or to buy another horse
or to watch my horse win at dressage

As you know I chose the latter.

The sad thing about the tutor was that she had a rather brusque manner but she knew her stuff.

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post #18 of 21 Old 08-20-2012, 04:40 PM
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I'd avoid putting moral agency to it, like "wrong." Horses are pretty adaptable. I'm sure my horse would be a lot better than she is at "modern dressage" if it weren't for my crap riding, but hey ho. I'm still not giving the ride to someone else. It's my horse to ride as badly as I want.

Sorry, I'm just in a crabbit mood these days.
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post #19 of 21 Old 08-20-2012, 05:51 PM
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Silver, before DiDi I owned a cob named Joe. Look up my cp and you’ll find a few threads listed which tell his tale. He was an awkward horse but a lot of fun when he was being good. Surefooted bold horses, such as he, come to be an acquired taste even if, at times, he was lawless – but that’s another story. He was ridden ‘forward style’ just as I rode.
Joe was kept on a livery yard, amongst a group of modern female riders who were mostly dressage orientated. Joe and I stood out, we were the only cowboys on the yard. One summer I went to Spain on holiday and came back with the idea of putting Joe ‘on the bit’ like the vaqueros ride in rural Spain. We found a knowledgeable lady trainer and she managed within a couple of months to get my boy’s nose down. I even have a photo or two with him riding vaguely classical – that’s the Spanish version of: ‘in a rounded outline’. But Joe was no Andalucian horse. He didn’t really see a reason to point his nose to the ground, neither did he like riding on shortened reins. So he revolted and started to buck for the first time. I persisted in trying to look ‘classical’ and Joe reacted by making a habit of whirling and bolting, which eventually led to Joe tearing a check ligament when he bolted down a steep country lane laid with tarmac. It is a long story.
I decided then that I would not ever again chop and change with riding styles. So months later, when I watched DiDi drop her nose and go rounded whilst being ridden by The Countess, a very competent dressage rider, I decided that I would give the twenty first century a try and let my pretty mare find her own way. You know the rest of the story.
If ever I bought another horse, I might go looking for a quarter horse and buy a Western saddle. There’s a farmer up the road who breeds QHs. If my pleasure is trail riding and I have no real interest in jumping there is a lot to be said for riding Western – even if I would have to buy a cowboy’s hat.
~*~anebel~*~ and bsms like this.
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post #20 of 21 Old 08-20-2012, 06:57 PM
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Go for a big hat, and don't forget the vest:

Bob Hope - The Paleface - Part 6/9 - YouTube
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"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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