Diagonals while outside the arena. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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Diagonals while outside the arena.

Ok, I spent a lot of time in the arena in the last year or two bringing my skill levels up to the point where me and my daughter started leasing a few horses a few months back and are now enjoying the benefits of all the work. A lot of fun hacks here and there have ensued. It feels like graduating from drivers ed and finally getting behind the wheel. ;)

I'm still firmly an intermediate rider at best, but I'm confident, competent, and I've been told I'm actually pretty decent by others. I still can't jump worth a crap (I could use a lot more work on that) but I can do it passably enough if needed to get over an obstacle on a trail without me departing my horse, or my horse being in any danger because of a sloppy rider. It's just something I need more work on next summer.

That said, WTC, gallop, everything else I'm good with.

As were out hacking now though, I hear my coach in my head every now and then, and that's a good thing - it means I'm not getting sloppy. I still watch my hands, my shoulder position, ensure I'm not leaning forward, my legs are where they should be and still except for cues, etc etc etc.

But every now and then I find myself looking down and checking my diagnonal, and then realizing that it doesn't really matter a whole lot. I have noticed that I seem to naturally pickup the right diagnonal a lot, and while having swapped a few times I've found his left diagnonal harder to post to, so I switch back again - I'm sure that's why I seem to naturally pickup the right all the time, as well.

Just curious what others do outside the arena in this regard. Do you favour one vs the other? Change routinely? Pick one and stick with it? Do you even care, or just go with whatever seems to work best in tune with your horse?

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Last edited by PrivatePilot; 01-04-2014 at 07:38 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 08:45 AM
Join Date: May 2013
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There are a few different trails we go on- ones straight because it follows a pipeline and another is a big wide circle. If we're going straight I tend to naturally post up with the right leg of the horse, but the circle one curves to the left so I'm in left post. I definitely enjoy right post though as it just feels better for me and my horse. We do both on the straightaway though so that I'm mixing it up and sometimes and I'll do some lateral work on that one to keep him focused with me.

Great for you for 'graduating' but keeping your instructors tips in mind! I bet you're an excellent rider from all that try and practice :) pictures next time you are on a hack!

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post #3 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 10:25 AM
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Unless you're really trotting/cantering down a straight trail, I find that most places that I would ride have a natural "direction" to them. Most trails that I've been on have their own curves- the only exception is the levee where I ride. That's pretty much a straight line there and a straight line back! There, I'll alternate diagonals. Even if you're trotting through a large field, you're gonna have to turn around and come back sometime! I'll just pick a direction in it and trot on that diagonal, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter all that much. Just make sure that you balance it out between the two directions. Don't always trot on your "good" diagonal because it's easier, or your bad to work on it.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 10:44 AM
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By switching diagonals it changes the saddle pressure on the horse, offering a bit of relief. One side is usually easier to ride but we gotta do the rougher one too, even a little more.
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 11:24 AM
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People tend to be one-sided, just like we note our horses to be.

I make a conscious effort to change it up when out for reasons of muscle development/balance and pressure relief.
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 11:45 AM
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When trotting a long straight I tend to switch diagonals every telegraph pole, or every tree - any regular landmark. When on a curved path I change with the curves.

If your horse is throwing you onto the right diagonal then this is probably the one that he finds most comfortable. This is useful for you to know so you can work on achieving more even and balanced muscletone for him on both diagonals.

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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I'm right-handed, and when I'm not paying that much attention, I naturally tend to pick up the right-hand diagonal. But usually when I'm in an arena, I pay closer attention to feeling which shoulder goes forward.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 02:20 PM
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Depends on the distances you're doing. Endurance riders are strongly recommended to switch sides and try to keep it even in order to avoid fatigue, damage, and a one-sided horse. A simple pleasure ride shouldn't cause any problems, though my inclination is always to try to balance it out in order to better develop myself and the horse.
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