Honestly, both of your posts provide me with a lot to think on (and I’m enjoying this discussion, so seriously no apologies needed). It’s going to take a lot of time to really research, analyze, and think about the details of these things to really get an understanding of the actual mechanics. I can say that when riding I certainly can feel when Dragon has the ‘correct bend’ around the leg vs when she does not (whether or not I can generate it to the extent I want to on any given turn is another matter) - but if that bend is a literal ‘bend’ in the horse or if it more just the relation of the shoulder and leg movements… I hadn’t yet thought to really think about or analyze it in great detail.
And instead of trapping a horse between the driving and restraining aids, one is asking the horse to move forward and then divert the energy upwards in the front. Instead of squeezing the horse, you are diverting the horse.
Yeah, honestly I think I will need to try on a different horse to really understand what I’m doing. Collection is easy enough with Dragon that if you recall I started getting it somewhat accidentally
in early lessons. I will confess that how this is done is closer to ‘trap between the restraining aids’ but that description seems pretty wrong… it’s more ‘ask for slower speed without de-energizing horse, then cue for headset’. She starts collecting upwards and then
we work her head into place… so the visualization of ‘trap’ isn’t really a fit for it. I’d say in this way it’s closer to ‘divert’ but it’s not the front that I’m diverting - her whole suspension changes, both front and back, and the back actually changes more than the front in my opinion. It’s not a ‘hinge’ it’s more a ‘bounce’.
But how do we get there? Here’s the thing: if Dragon can figure out what I’m asking for, especially if she likes it, she will give it to me even if I don’t ask quite right. Collection is a very easy request. This is probably a completely and utterly different experience for a horse that is being trained in collection rather than knowing exactly what I want and who isn’t so eager to do it.
I have little doubt that as soon as I get some other things sorted Jill will show me this on another less-trained horse.
Her advice was to use the reins in a certain way with Trooper to help him move straighter. It kind of worked. Several years later, I found with Mia and now Bandit that MY balance is often what pulls my horse off. I was using reins and heels to put a band-aid on a problem my balance was causing.
When I ride balanced - or IF - determines most of my horse's issues.
My experience with this thus far has been pretty limited, since the only horse I’ve really ridden is pretty good with turns when I cue her properly and will happily go genuinely straight in a straightaway. I will say though that I know that most of the horses at our stable - being OTTBs usually a year or less off the track - I’ve been told tend to have a surprising amount of issues with turning right
and can have some balance/flexibility issues in that direction which need to be worked through. Some of that may be horse-psychological, but I’ve been told there’s also a physical component to it as well. This is obviously an extreme case.
I agree it is not wrong to ask horses to travel in ways that are less efficient, when we are training or asking for athleticism. As long as "less efficient" doesn't mean undue stress on the body - like athletes there are ways to exercise and lift weights that are using the body correctly and without causing harm, and there are ways that cause undue stress on parts that are not designed to handle that load.
This is an incredibly important and good point by the way. This is why I think the ‘horse ballet’ analogy is possibly even better than some of the people making it might realize - ballet can be brutal on the body
. It’s incredibly healthy when done recreationally - but when pushed and practiced daily (as it is in basically all professional companies) and the longevity of a ballet dancer’s health is often a sacrifice to the pursuit of art. Many
athletic disciplines when taken to high levels end up potentially resulting in health issues in the long run - and it’s even trickier in some ways, because some people go on to be just fine and are going to enjoy incredible fitness with virtually no downsides, whereas others are wrecked by the experiences and dealing with early onset arthritis and persistent strains. I know it’s tempting to want to say ‘X activity is OK but Y is not’ but unfortunately it’s rarely that clear-cut in practice. Sometimes there are better and worse (often the case with weightlifting for example) but even that isn’t always the case.
Because of this it’s easy to make an argument like ‘Well, athlete XYZ is perfectly healthy after 20 years in the sport. Obviously it’s OK!’ or ‘Athlete ABC was crippled after only 2 years, this sport is obviously too dangerous!’ And thus there’s lots and lots of room for everyone to have their opinions shaped by plenty of real-world experience on what is ‘ok’ vs what is ‘not ok’ based on what they’ve seen - even before people start looking for evidence to back up views they already have (as humans are always wont to do). It’s all about risk, and risk is an incredibly difficult thing to calculate objectively from the sample sizes a person sees only in their own lives.
So how much stress is ‘undue’? What methods/tools/techniques are ok vs those that are not ok? There’s so much room for very valid differences of opinion by rational actors working on the best information they have available.
Also called “intermittant fasting”, there is no question but that weight will be lost, but the more important benefits (especially as one ages, which is why I’m doing it over a year now) are all the other things that studies show go along with having significant breaks from eating.
So I wrote a post at rather long length
regarding my dieting methodology in another thread.
I’ve know IF works absolute wonders for some people and some people really love it. It helps people minimize their food intake without requiring calorie-counting at other times and the ‘on’ vs ‘off’ nature of eating makes it a lot easier for people to draw firm lines around when and what they’re eating. There are a lot of variants on it and yours sounds like one of the more reasonable ones I’ve seen.
Personally, I’ve also done quite a bit of work with fasting - mostly in a spiritual/meditative context. Usually these are 1-3 day fasts to varying degrees of strictness. I’m very familiar with how hunger can adjust to compensate for alternating periods of food-no food and actually am not even terribly prone to getting cranky when I don’t eat.
But IF doesn’t work for me for weight-loss. I’ve found I increase my food intake at other times to make up for the fast days - often even overcompensating. It also wrecks my athletic performance.
I’ve made the mistake of trying to do something like calorie counting and then adding in fast days twice
- once was going from dieting into a meditative fast (why this would be a problem just didn’t occur to me), and the other was an attempt to add IF to a general dieting/exercise routine. The first time I almost fainted and ended up having to break the meditative fast midway through due to health concerns. The second time I almost fell off a treadmill as my legs gave out kind of suddenly and I got very dizzy.
So basically: If I don’t add calorie counting with IF I don’t lose any weight. If I do add calorie counting with it, the extra strain it puts on my body can be just too much for it. I know it works wonders for a lot of people, but I’ve ruled it out for me personally due to some unfortunate experiences.