Maybe I'm Going About Things The Wrong Way...
Today I had a rather large brain wave. What if I'm taking the wrong approach with Chinga's dressage training? All contributes to this are highly welcome and appreciated. Now, Chinga and I are both well know on the forum for both good and bad reasons. Anyway, his behavior and manners is amazing and his jumping is going really well. One thing that has come to my attention a while ago is that his dressage still lacks a lot. So I started working on his dressage a large amount and now I have made the choice to take all jumping out of his work until I can have his dressage more balanced, collected, ect.
So I've been working on making my position solid and giving single clear aids and everything like that. But I was watching a video of my coach riding him and noticed that unlike me she has her heels flat or not down and uses her heels to nudge him forward - I feel like I've explained this wrong and with her hands shes incredibly soft but at the same time shes firm. Where as when I ride him I've been going for a continuously soft rein contact. Basically what I've been trying to do is get my position nice but then I've realized I could ride around with a perfect position but I still need to guide and ask him? Where as she adjusts her position to nudge and guide him through. If this makes any sense?
So basically, maybe I'm trying to use my position to trick him into a frame where as she is using hers to guide him into one, pushing him forward with her legs,ect. I really don't know if this makes sense to anyone, but its just my thoughts and I'd really like to hear if this is just me going crazy or maybe I'm onto something..:/
I do understand that roundness is not something that comes from the bit and that it involves a horse working from the hind end, ect and I've attended many lectures on the matter. My coach is a well known and knowledgeable person in the area who works with both green horses and school masters.
I'm not a pro at dressage so anyone can correct me if I'm wrong but when your riding you definitely want contact on the reins. My coach has taught me using the number system. 0-4. 1 there is no contact at all you are holding the buckle, there's nothing. 1 you've picked up the reins a little but there's still no contact, huge loop in the reins. 2 you now have contact, very light you can't feel them pulling and your not pulling, the rein is straight now. 3 is more contact, you have a firm feel on the mouth, you may feel them pulling a tiny bit. 4 your practically hauling on the mouth. its like someone pulling very very hard on your ponytail. What she's taught me is that most of the time you want to ride in about a 3. A little more than light rein contact, you want to feel them on the bit and against your hands.
You most definitely have the right idea. Roundness does come from the hind end and you need to push your horse in to the bit. Push may be a bad word to use but its all I can think of. Take some flat lessons with your coach if you like how she rides Chinga and when you watch her take little snippets and tricks that she uses and try using them yourself. You might find improvement.
You are doing the right thing by trying to get your position right. Your position is the most important aid you have. What you are seeing your trainer do is also correct, but she has the body control to know how she is applying these 'whole body' aids. Until you have perfect control over your position and know what it is doing any given time, you should concentrate on keeping yourself still and in correct position.
Your post is a little hard to understand as clearly as it is to you, but I am sure you knew it would be hard for us to totally get what you mean. Here's my take.
I get the feeling that when you say your are concentrating on having a solid position, that you are looking for a static place to find, and to kind of just freeze there . What you see in her is a greater fluidity in her position or aids, as is appropriate for the situation.
You are at the place where you are trying to be the best passenger that you can be. You are trying to make yourself as easy to carry and as little intrusive to your horse's movement as you can.
She is a driver. She has already been the passenger and doesn't have to think so much about that, it comes natural. So now, she is able to keep the harmony with the horse and still "drive" him
When we first start to ride, we spend a long time becoming able to follow the horse, in our body, with our hands, and with our minds. Over time, we learn to get the horse so follow us. We bring the horse to our motion, not so much the other way around.
So, I guess that she is using the rein and changes in her seat to ask the hores to come to her.
If you don't have a good solid seat, you cannot be quiet enough to have you message get across, like through the rein. So, perhaps you are where you are supposed to be at this time. Does your teacher feel you are progressing on track?
Sorry its taken me so long to get back to this thread. But when I spoke to my coach she said pretty much the same thing, that she is a driver and I am a passenger. But she would like to start teaching me the very basics of achieving what she does with him so that when I do ride him I can get progress from the both of us.
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