North American Equitation
   

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North American Equitation

This is a discussion on North American Equitation within the Jumping forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Functional equitation
  • Form fits function equine

 
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    07-01-2009, 05:03 PM
  #1
Trained
North American Equitation

I posted this on the thread titled "Jumping Pictures" - but got no response, so I thought I'd make a thread of it's own:

~~~

I find it funny, how form aka Equitation changes per country.

Here in North America - that includes the U.S.A and Canada - Equitation is very strict. Very precise and "classical" - I find that most cannot comprehend how to do it accurately and end up perching moreso than being functional.

Now you go to Europe, Equitation is not highly stressed, but remaining functional and out of your horses way is taught.

I have to say, after talking to a friend from New Zealand who is a PHENOMINAL eventer - she showed me how remaining out of your horses way, and remaining functional is far more important than looking pretty.

Since I grew up riding in Pony Club and equitation was stressed over and over and over "must be over horses center of gravity, legs solid, seat centered, proper release" I grew up believing that you being balanced keeps your horse balanced - but after seeing how riders ride in Great Britain and New Zealand, how their form is out the window, but their functionallity is spot on.......I've come to realize that there has to be a happy medium.

So where's the fine line - from being supportive, aiding, and functional - from bring "pretty" and perching to the point of abandoning your horse to do the fence, while you do what you can to look pretty while doing it?

I for one, would far wrather be functional - I highly admire those top level New Zealand Eventers, and Great Britain Riders, man they don't look pretty, but they sure do get the job done, and done well!

I was drilled and made to believe that if you are out, so is your horse and how important it is for you to be solid for your horse to be - but after having long discussions with my friends in New Zealand about this - I don't know anymore.

What are your thoughts?
     
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    07-01-2009, 05:12 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Your leg should be at the girth, to support the horse over the jump. Your back should be flat so the you are able to hold your shoulders up so that you can hold your head up so that you can see your next jump. Your seat should be centered over the saddle so that you keep the horse off of it's fore. You should be releaseing properly to help your horse use it's head properly. So EQ is VERY important. I have seen Advanced Level rider's ride and his EQ was spot on perfect.
     
    07-01-2009, 05:16 PM
  #3
Trained
Your seat being over the center of your saddle, has nothing to do with keeping your horse off of his forehand - please explain - I'm curious.

~~~

I see many GP level riders with form that isn't something to be bragged about - but yet they do phenominal jobs out in the Jumper Ring, and out on the CC course - Riders from all countries.

There are a minimal handful of GP level riders with spot on form, Beezie Madden being one of them.

I'm starting to think that to truely be a good rider you need to be effective and to be effective your position HAS to adapt - not be picture perfect over every fence.
     
    07-01-2009, 05:36 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Interesting topic! I'd have to agree with you on the happy medium. The thing is, FORM FITS FUNCTION. You don't put your heels down to be pretty, you put them down because it allows your leg to be the most stable and secure it can be. But, I've seen GP riders go around a course on their toes and have a very functional ride. But very few people can do that so we shouldn't mimic that. I think when people start off it's important to teach proper position (and in theory continue to insist on proper position) in the same way that it's important to learn on a made horse. Are people who are riding push button horses really "riding"? Well, not really, but they're learning so they need something that will do it's job. When people start learning are they just posing in an attempt to be in a pretty position? Well, yeah. Because that's all they can do at the beginning. When they can handle something more, they can learn to actually "ride" and that's when they should use that position to be truly effective. The problem arises when the ultimate goal is not to be effective, but to have the correct position. That's when you just have a bunch of "pretty" people who just pose on their horses.

Another thought is, just because you can get the job done, and even do it well, how much BETTER could you be if you had the proper position? I consider myself to be a pretty effective and properly positioned rider. One of my weaknesses is that I tend to close my hip angle too much and 'lay' on my horse's neck over the fences. I'm not jumping ahead, I'm very balanced, I stay over the center of them, my horses jump quite well. I worked with this incredible trainer at a show one week where we focused on being more still over the fences, and by the end of the week? My horse's progress was amazing! He was doing great before, but amazing when I fixed my position. Form fits function! It must go hand in hand!
     
    07-01-2009, 05:39 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIEventer    
I'm starting to think that to truely be a good rider you need to be effective and to be effective your position HAS to adapt - not be picture perfect over every fence.
Yes, I'd agree with this as well. GM even said in a critique somewhere that once a rider hits about 4 ft, it's expected to see their leg slide back over the fence. Not correct, and not ideal, but expected.
     
    07-01-2009, 05:49 PM
  #6
Trained
Thanks for your very well put post upnover! I appreciate it.
Quote:

The thing is, FORM FITS FUNCTION. You don't put your heels down to be pretty, you put them down because it allows your leg to be the most stable and secure it can be. But, I've seen GP riders go around a course on their toes and have a very functional ride. But very few people can do that so we shouldn't mimic that.
Well said, I totally understand what you are saying. I think it is because GP Level riders are so accomplished, they know how to manipulate their body parts seperately from other body parts - independant aids - to get the job done, whereas us at lower levels - are no where near where they are in abillity.

Good point you make.

Quote:
The problem arises when the ultimate goal is not to be effective, but to have the correct position. That's when you just have a bunch of "pretty" people who just pose on their horses.

Good point, I think what we are seeing - are riders at our levels more concerned about how they look over a fence, instead of thinking about how more important it is on how they got to the fence.

Make sense?
Quote:

One of my weaknesses is that I tend to close my hip angle too much and 'lay' on my horse's neck over the fences. I'm not jumping ahead, I'm very balanced, I stay over the center of them, my horses jump quite well.
Understandable, my issue is my lack of release...literally. I've been drilled over and over and over about solid lower leg and heels and why and how - and seat low to tack and over center of saddle...but was never ever shown how to leave my horse alone, and remain out of his way to allow him to do his.

But what I am staring to see, since my friends from Europe opened my mind to other aspects of jumping - is that staying out of your horses way is more important than "looking pretty" over a fence. As long as they allow the horse to do its' job by remaining out of their horses way - staying off the back over the fence and staying out of their horses mouth, riding balanced enough that they don't interefere with the movement - is far more important than "oh my back is arched" or etc, etc, etc.....get what I mean?
     
    07-01-2009, 05:53 PM
  #7
Weanling
What about Nicole Shahinian Simpson or Ray Texel? Both very good eq riders now GP riders, and I have to say I always liked the way horses go for them.
     
    07-02-2009, 01:06 PM
  #8
Trained
I wanted to bump this back up.
     
    07-02-2009, 03:59 PM
  #9
Weanling
I think once you start really concentrating on how perfect you look, that's when your position totally goes to hell. When I was first starting with my current trainer my eq. Was fantastic and it's because I was learning and trying to establish my base over fences and on the flat. I wasn't concerned about Looking good and I guess as a result my position and "look" just came naturally. Now, my trainer has been drilling the look aspect into us and I am constantly thinking about how perfect my back is, where exactly are my toes pointing, wait....what about my hands, etc. As a result of my over thinking, I can feel my position shifting towards the worse. I just need to be functional and my form will follow, just as it did before. I have really had to recondition myself to just feel my horse when I'm riding instead of trying to picture how perfect I need to look on top of her. I need to ride with her, not just on her.
     
    07-02-2009, 04:09 PM
  #10
Trained
Great post Irish - I appreciate your input. That's what I am trying to get at, but you put it into better words.

I find, that when riders focus moreso on how they look, they forget how to ride functionally. It isn't about how you look, it is about how well you ride.

Believe me, I used to be so closed minded about equitation and it has to be this way regardless - but I appreciate the information that's been shown to me from my European Friends.
     

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