And now Morrie and I...
Morrie is a HUGE horse with a gigantic trot that throws you out of the saddle. My position suffered because I wasn't used to him (my first time riding him). I'm not trying to make excuses, though. He is 17.3hh tall and is only 9, so he doesn't seem to know quite what to do with those long legs and his long long neck!
Haha this is seriously what it takes to get Morrie's huge bulk to canter.
Haha he jumped this one from a stand still.
You really can't tell how big he is in photos... I walked into his stall to groom him and he was just looming up over me. He's crazily tall.
Some of the things that I noticed are that I really turn my toes out- I need to work on that. I also tend to lean forward too far. Also my feet come out from under me and I slip into a chair seat. Plus I need to work on my release.
You know, there's a lot here I like. You have a nice, stable position in the saddle, with your legs in a secure position. They tend to be a hair in front of you, but better that than the other way. Make sure you're not bracing against the stirrups, since that will tip your body back. Relaxed ankle, low heel. You're turning your toe out too much. Relax your hip and make sure your toe is pointing in the right direction. Your eyes are usually looking ahead, but no peeking down. The horse will not suddenly change colors, we promise.
You have this lovely little arch in your back, not exaggerated. Roll your shoulders back and open up your chest. Think of it as pulling your shoulder blades together more than arching your back.
Hands, hands, hands. Close your fingers, turn your thumbs up, and bend your elbows. You have such a nice, stable position, so no point in letting your hands go wandering. Open fingers do not equal soft feel, they equal ineffective. Feel comes from your arms.
I love what you're doing with your jumping. Stable, centered. For your crest release, actually get your hands on the crest, don't leave them floating. Make sure you're clearing the back enough, but it looks good here, especially for the size of the fences.
Yeah, my hands and legs are probably two of my biggest problems- I always tend to get 'piano hands' or when I'm jumping I never actually use a proper release. My instructor always is telling me "Close those fingers on the reins!" and "Where were your hands over that fence?!" Thanks for the critique- it really helps.
His break to calm down because he was going crazy (as in cantering with his head up around the arena)- it seems to help him out a bit
Lets stop and ask ourselves as to why he was running away, going stiff, braced and dropped his back - - - he was running away from his rider.
Our horses reflect 100% of what their rider do while in the saddle. So, if our horse is reaching short, stiffening up, dropping his back, throwing his head up in the air and speeding up, it is because he is running away from something, which is a moment where the rider should stop and say "woah...what am I doing incorrectly here?"
Soft, soft, soft, soft, soft. Soften yourself before you can soften your horse. I'm going to say this horse needs a lighter seat, softer aids from his rider, and quiet. You can lighten your seat by allowing your heels to absorb your bodies weight - without loosing the effectiveness of your seat. This is something your coach should be showing you.
You need your legs under you, so that you can aid his ribs to lift. With a lighter seat, he will be more inclined to round up into you. Your reins need to be shorter and softer.
When he is gone mentally to the point of the state he was in before you gave him the break, you need to change your riding instantly. Soften yourself, lighten yourself and give him a job to do.....
Circles, circles, circles, circles. Woah, woah, woah, woah. Quiet yourself. Star humming if you have to, breath and relax yourself. Do not brace, do not give him something to brace against. Soften, soften soften soften.
Slow, slow, slow - think slow. Soften your seat. Slow your seat, allow your seat to swoop with his motion, and slow it down. Slow your seat, your horse will come down to you -DO NOT follow his pace...make him follow yours.
Get out of his face, get out of his way. Fix yourself before you can fix him. He will reflect what you are doing in the saddle.
Do you know anything about the Training Scale? This is something highly emphasised by many Top Level Riders - it goes:
Lets take a look at what Jim Wofford has to say about this:
"Because I was born in a different century, I was raised on Gen. Decarpentry's advice - "Calm, Forward. Strait." I still prefer it because it emphasizes calmness before anything else. It is difficult to teach a horse anything when he is tense, and if you do teach him anything, chances are it will be the wrong thing.
Whichever way you think of it, you have to realize that your horse is not yet calm when he shows resistance in his mouth. If he is not yet calm, then any further demands on him will result in more tension and flawed results.
It is as simple as that. If you want flawed results, go ahead and ask for colection before your horse is relaxed. This is a pretty certain way to produce a horse who needs his mouth strapped shut. A tight noseband is a vain attempt to disguise the fact that your horse is not ready for the things you are asking him to do.
Where was I berfore I started this rant? Oh yeah, classical equitation. I reread the "Object and General Princibles of Dressage" in the International Equestrain Federation dressage rule book the other day, and was pleased with how meaningful it is, and how clear.
For example, Article 401 of the rule book says, "By virtue of a lively impulsion and suplenes ofthe joints, free from the paralyzing effects of resistance, the horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally."
Think about that for a second: When horses stiffen and resist, their musculature becomes paralyzed for the duration of that resistance. If your horse is tense in his topline while jumping, he wil be slow with his knees and hang his legs. If you are an eventer, or want to become one, then you have to realize that dressage permeates everything we do with horses.
Article 401 aditionally states, "The object of dressage is the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the horse calm, suple, loose, and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider."
I give the FEI a lot of unsolicited constructive criticism in this column, most of it well deserved and desperately neeed. However, I would be the first to admit that this is a lovely description of what we are supposed to be looking for in the training of our horses."
Does any of that make sense? That break you gave him was a good idea, it gave you a moment to re-establish yourself and what you are doing in the tack.
Seat into Legs into Hands to Soften - LEARN THIS.
Discuss this with your coach, you need to learn to utalize your seat to slow down and soften your horse. You need to utalize your legs to lift and round your horse up into your seat. You need to utalize your hands to aid your horse to get off of that forehand, up into your aids and to recycle the energy you created.
When Nelson stiffens up, throws his head up in the air, drops his back and braces against me - it is because of what I am doing in the saddle. He is reacting to me 100%. So, I have to change what I am doing instantly.
I may not beable to figure out what I was doing incorrectly right away, but can do a process of ellimination to find out - so I don't repeat.
You bake a cake with a faulty recepie, you aren't going to do it again - you are going to change the receipe to get the right results in your cake - same with riding.
I'd love to get my hands on Morris. What a drop dead gorgeous boy!
Ok, question - are you really trying to get him to canter in this picture? Reins loose, he is flat, on the forehand, rump high, back low, no functional aiding what-so-ever from his rider?
No wonder why he wont transition up into a canter.
With a horse this size, you need ALLOT OF SEAT AND LEG. A horse this size, needs his rider to beable to utalize him - to engage that back end, to lift that back of his up, to lift him up off of his forehand, to recycle the energy through the outside rein, to lift him and support him.
A horse this size, is not compact like smaller horses, he needs a totally different ride.
A rider must beable to conform to the horses needs. You cannot ride one horse, the same way you ride another. It is up to you figure out what you must change in yourself, to aid each indavidual horse you are on.
Riding is about being functional right?!?! We want to be functional over pretty.
You can look good all you want while in the saddle, but if you aren' getting results from your horse - what's the point of riding "pretty".
See what I am saying?
The above posters can say "you have sturdy form in the tack" but you aren't getting the functional results out of the horses you are riding.
It is about improving yourself and what you are doing in the tack, to be that much more of a better rider, than what you were before.
1 critique isn't going to fix you, or change you. As David O'Connor says, it takes a 1,000 repetative times to correct 1 bad habit.
Start learning to read your horses behaviour when you ride. Start to learn to obtain a feel, you must learn to feel your horse and yourself. If you cannot feel your horse under you, you have no functionallity. You must learn to do this, to change what you are doing to get the right results from your horse
Am I making sense?
You're a capeable rider and you can do it - but you need guidance from the ground - getting help in person is far more valuable than words on a computer screen.
Thanks MIEventer- that really helps. About getting Morrie to canter- I didn't keep the reins that length; if I am remembering correctly (it was only Monday so I believe I am), my instructor told me to shorten my reins after that. And after I shortened my reins, he WAS a little easier to get moving, just like you said. And on Thumper, I do tend to brace. I guess I expect him to speed up when I ride him, so I brace and tense up. I'll try to relax, get my legs under me, and sit softer and lighter in the saddle. Yeah, the break most likely helped me more or as much as it helped Thumper! Thanks again for the critique MIEventer.
So I am riding Thumper tomorrow morning and I will keep in mind what everyone has suggested. Toes in more, relax, lighter seat, softer aids, reins shorter, legs under me, no piano hands, close my fingers on the reins, roll back my shoulders... the list goes on and on :)! Hey well at least I know what to improve, right? I think tomorrow I will focus on (other than things mentioned) relaxing, taking things slowly, and keeping myself loose but not like a sack of potatoes. And getting myself to keep a soft and steady contact, and letting him to stretch forwards and downwards.