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sillyhorses 12-02-2012 02:06 AM

Exercises to Improve Independence of Aids
So, I just watched a video of myself riding from 2 years ago. I think I need an updated one, because what I just watched made me cringe. I feel like I ride better than that now... but I'm not sure. I feel bad for my horse - if I were a horse, I'd have said "Screw this..." and left me in the dust. He's so patient and tolerant!!! My trainer says I've improved vastly - I HOPE so! I feel so bad for my awesome, tolerant, forgiving, willing and patient horse... he is truly a rock star for me. We are definitely growing together, but I want to be better, to improve myself for my horse's sake.

I feel like I've gained independence in my aids - like my arms work better for myself and my horse now. However, I want them to work better!!!!! I want to better separate my legs, hands and seat. Does anybody know of any standard, useful exercises I can do while mounted? Even unmounted exercises are welcome!!!! I owe my horse HUGE.

I know what I'm supposed to be doing, it is just a matter of muscle memory and fitness, I guess. Practice, practice, practice... but, what should I add to my practices? :D


tinyliny 12-02-2012 02:40 AM

To me, that's just too vague of a question. I don't know which aids you wish to improve, nor what might be making them not as independent as you would wish them to be. Maybe you just need to post a video. Or, trust your trainer is she/he says you are improving, then you probably are.

Really, one of the best things you can do to become a better rider is ride more. Ride different hroses, too. Ride in different situations, like out on the trail if you usually ride in the arena, and vice/versa.

Chances are you ride better than you would give yourself credit for.

sillyhorses 12-02-2012 10:03 PM

Thanks, Tiny! Maybe when I don't have stage fright, I'll post a video ;)

I guess, primarily, I'd like to be able to separate my arms/hands better, and I'd also like more core control.

I absolutely trust my trainer, but I don't see her nearly enough (she comes quite a way to my barn to train my horse and I) :( She gives me great exercises, although sometimes, in between lessons, I'll realize I'm having a problem with something else...

Following my horse with the reins, for instance... I ride dressage, and we work on contact mostly. After watching my Anatomy in Motion videos, I realized there is a term for my "problem", haha - "stick arms". I tend to ride with my arms straight down to my horse's withers, no bend in my elbows :/ I looked sooooo tense and stiff, and I KNOW I still have a tendency to do that, and THAT is primarily what drove me batty when I watched my video from a few years ago. I've started trying to focus on my arm position... following, trying to not be inadvertently abusive to my horse...

That said - what are some specific exercises I can do to work on having better control of my arms?

tinyliny 12-02-2012 11:36 PM

Heres one to help with keeping bent arms and thumbs up:

Let your arms hang down by your side , like dead meat. Now, roll the lower arm so that the palm faces outward as far as you can without straining. Then, without changing the fall of the upper arm, or the position of your shoulder one iota, bring your lower arm up in front of you as if to hold imaginary reins.
You should still feel a slight pull across the front of your chest, under your collar bone and along the front of your shoulder socket. enhance that a tiny bit by dropping your elbow down toward your hip. I bet you can drop it at least half an inch.

Dont' be stiff, but try to remember this position. pick up the reins and walk on. Imagine that you have a million dollar bill under your armpit, sticking out toward the back. you need to keep that upper arm connected (not rigid) to your rib cage, or you'll lose that money!

Now here's a kicker! When you want to ask your horse to soften to the inside rein, instead of pulling or flaping with your wrist (not saying you do this, but a lot of riders do, including me ) , you literally squeeze that underarm place with a rythic pulse that mimics the very soft rythmic pulse in your finger. this will really encourage your horse to soften while at the same time keep you connect to YOUR core.. try this excersize in a dinner chair as you pretend to soften your horse for an inside bend, change the bend, ask for a half halt.

Keep your head hanging froma puppet string all through this, and BREATHE.

try this and tell me what it feels like.

and ask instructor for lunge line lessons, NO REINS.

Hope this helps,


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