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View Full Version : Equitation critique *update; post 29*



theroanypony
Apr. 17, 2009, 11:39 PM
Everyone complements me on my pretty eq, I just don't see it. I'm not being modest. I'm a big kid on a little pony that requires to be pushed around the ring. I worry about making lines and getting changes, so I rarely think about what I actually look like. My pony is finally getting things together, so I guess it's time to work on getting myself cleaned up. I know I have a strong leg, I just use it in strange ways sometimes :lol:. I would love to hear a critique from you guys, I have a link to the proofs from the last show we attended. Please ignore the flat and face photos (I asked nicely if they would stop taking head shots of me, but they weren't cooperative). Normally we show higher than this, and my pony has a nicer front end, but this show is famous for lower everything.

http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/orderpage.aspx?pi=03HV00IZ3C0000&po=0
'554 Just Morgan'

(photo 28 & 29 was an eq-ish turn diagonal type thing, which is the reason for my open hand in the first part of it. And, I have no idea what's going on in 35, my pony has never done that before.)

Thanks! :D

Kenike
Apr. 18, 2009, 02:27 AM
Yeah, he does look like he's just stepping over them, but sometimes that happens.
As for you? You're just awful! Go back to step 1 and start over!! :winkgrin: No, seriously, you look like a beautiful rider! Congratulations on being someone we can all be jealous of! Don't be so hard on yourself and know that you DO have wonderful eq!

KayPink
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:34 AM
I don't really critique, but I have to say I think you look fabulous! It looks like you have a really great foundation and will go on to great things! Keep up the good work! Oh, and you're pony is such a cutie :)

Strictly Classical
Apr. 18, 2009, 08:32 AM
I am a dressage rider who has never ridden hunters, but I am quite an "equitation" fanatic - you know, dressage riders are typically quite "focused" on riding position. For whatever it is worth let me tell you what I see - and I see quite a lot that I like!

The first thing that really stood out to me is how nicely you are balanced over the pony's center of gravity. SO many times you see people - even people who call themselves professionals - who are ahead of their horse in the jump. You are not. You may feel small on the pony, but I think you are quite a nice pair and do not look out of place on him/her at all. I absolutely LOVE your leg position. I think you realize that you have a very good, very strong leg position. Your leg appears to be very relaxed, with knee pointed forward, aligned over your toe, with the inside of your calf against your horse where it can be effective. [Hence - strong leg] So many people, especially in your discipline, seems to want to roll the back of their calf against the horse which leaves their knee/toe alignment also rolled toward the "outside". You can not use the leg nearly as effectively in this manner.

Lets note some other things. You have a nice flat back; not hollowed out in the lower back with your bum stuck up in the air. I have seen that positional flaw a lot. Shoulders seems nice and square. One correction I would make if you were my student - keeping in mind I am a dressage riders and we tend to use our seat a little differently than h/j riders [although I'm not sure why this is - to my eye there shouldn't be much difference except that unless we are riding a very young horse or very green one we ride fully seated in the three point pelvic bone alignment]. I would have you site upright with a erect, "tall" torso, fully seated up to the jump. When you lean forward you are simply putting the horse on its forehand, which allows it to escape really having to take more weight on its haunches and "collect" up a bit more for you. Really good jumper riders do this, and many, many times you can tell right away which ones work from a strong basis of true dressage [not just "flatwork"].

One other thing that you could work on is your hand position. I really, really like your nice rein alignment - straight from the horse's bit to your elbow. Think of your hands not ending in your hands but in your elbow. You want to maintain that nice straight alignment. In many of the photos you seem to stray away from the classical hand where the thumb is on top of your closed hand. Your hands appear to roll slightly inward and become more "puppy dog hands". Look at photos of really top, classically trained dressage riders and you will see what I mean. when we roll the hands even slightly inward we are changing the effect of the bit in the horse's mouth. It becomes more of a harsher effect because the bit becomes rolled down on the sensitive bars of the horse's mouth. In the "thumbs on top" hand position, the bit is gently brought more against the corners of the horse's mouth/lips where a finer level of communication is possible and the bit effect is not on the bars. Hard hands as you know can cause all kinds of resistances. I'm not saying that you have hard hands - you do not appear to have that going on at all - but in several of the flat photos your pony has backed off the bit, is a bit hollow, and not exhibiting the throughness to give you the best ride possible.

Overall, I was simply struck by the lovliness of your photos. :D There is much you should be proud of. You deserve a pat on the back for all your hard work. If its any consolation, we all - not matter how good a rider we are - have areas that will need attention & correction. I would love to see you go to a really good dressage instructor with some basic positional help, and the occasional tune-up. It would do wonders for your confidence and ability, not to mention help you rack up a lot more wins in the ring!

Edited to Add: Equitation is not just a "pretty" from. Equitation is the be-all-end-all in riding sport. Think of it as beautiful form [for the rider] which produces a beautiful and effective form in the horse. I hedge to say this because I don't want it to come off sounding snobby - but - sloppy riders produce sloppy going horses, no matter how beautiful nor talented they may be. Without functional, correct equitation the riders can not bring out the best in their horses. I just watched the videos from World Cup 2009 - check out the Steffan Peters ride as well as the Meredith Michael Beerbaum rides. Both exhibit beautiful equitation and get rewarded with stellar rides!

2DaPoint
Apr. 18, 2009, 10:49 AM
So here's the deal from my angle.... Equitation is "Form To Function".
There are REASONS we do what we do in order to have "good equitation". And you're proving all the reasons in your extremely correct workmanlike position.
BAD equitation is usually the result of bad riding habits.... and the reason they are bad is because they either don't work, or they created bad responses in your horse.
I think the more difficult horses (and ponies) can sometimes create the best riding. When you ride a push-button horse, you don't really HAVE to keep your heels down, your fingers closed, your shoulders back...... But when you ride a brat..... well, you HAVE TO!
Your fabulous leg position is testament to the function it must perform.
Your straight wrist-to-forearm is because you need to keep correct contact.
Your lovely upper body and lower back are completely useful for keeping your pony energized, balanced, and straight.
THAT'S why people tell you have great Equitation!! It works.... like it's supposed to.
hooray for you
KD

theroanypony
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:19 AM
In my OP, I didn't mean to sound like someone begging for people to tell me that I have pretty eq. I know that's not what you guys did, but I just wanted to make sure I didn't sound like a loser. :yes: I also know eq is about getting your horse going well, not looking pretty. But I've always thought of my eq as workmanlike, and compared to everyone else, it just doesn't seem as soft and subtle.

Strictly Classical - My trainer is a fantastic dressage trainer! That used to be my barn's main function. Even now my trainer makes us do dressage whether we like it or not! :winkgrin: No matter what she does, she incorporates dressage into it. She's even told us to ride courses just like a dressage test. Different tack, different ring, same thing. I always feel like that gives me an advantage over most people I show against because learning dressage over the past year has made me balanced just that much. I don't understand why more people don't cross train in dressage, it's really hard but definitely worth learning.

Thanks again everyone, for the advice and critiques. :)

Strictly Classical
Apr. 18, 2009, 02:48 PM
Carry on then! Job well done! :) By the way, sounds like you have a great instructor - one who understands that good riding is good riding - regardless of discipline. Personally, I think there is no substitute for good equitation and also healthy doses of theory to support it. Too often there are instructors that tell you to do something, yet they don't seem to be able to explain how or why behind it. Those "hows" and "whys" are very important concepts.

IsolaBella09
Apr. 18, 2009, 05:36 PM
I like your equitation a lot! You look very secure but relaxed in the saddle. The only comments I can give are to close your hands a bit more, thumbs up, turn your toe out just a touch, release towards the bit, not along the crest, and look up. Your pony says, "Ma, this is way too easy for us." ;)

theroanypony
Apr. 18, 2009, 05:42 PM
Your pony says, "Ma, this is way too easy for us." ;)

It is! Normally the shows jack the jumps up higher than they're supposed to, its odd that this show would make them too low. We're point chasing this year though, so we went in and did the baby jumps. It was also a good opportunity to work on changes without worrying too much about the fences, it definitely paid off too! :) Thanks for the critique!

Lou-Lou
Apr. 18, 2009, 06:13 PM
You do have lovely equitation. And an adorable pony. :yes:

superpony123
Apr. 18, 2009, 06:22 PM
i really like your eq :) it's very solid.

you have a solid leg and release. your back is straight for the most part, though it does look like you have a tendancy to curl/hunch your back a little bit. you have a fairly straight line from hip to ankle. your leg is fine where it is, but it might look a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit better if it were just a teensy bit more forward, closer to the girth. (think as if it's almost on top of the girth, like it is when you're on the flat. when you're coming up to a jump, think about locking your leg right into place where it is, at the girth. this will be hard if your pony has a tendancy to rush to fences, so if he does, avoid that, but otherwise, it's a good technique to keep your leg in place over the fence)

overall, very nice :yes:

Petstorejunkie
Apr. 18, 2009, 08:41 PM
I'll start by saying i rarely say things "nice" when critiquing....

get rid of your crest release, you are ready to rid yourself of such rubbish ;)

if you're keen you'll take that as a compliment :)

theblondejumper
Apr. 18, 2009, 09:03 PM
Love the eq, love the pony, I'll go ahead and add your blog to my Google Reader, I always love seeing what other riders are up to! :)

theroanypony
Apr. 18, 2009, 09:29 PM
get rid of your crest release, you are ready to rid yourself of such rubbish ;)

Wait, what other releases are there? I can only think of an automatic release. You think I should be doing an automatic release? If so, I'll definitely take that as a complement! :yes: But...do people still do those? At local levels?

Wizard of Oz's
Apr. 18, 2009, 10:13 PM
You definately have good eq and it's very natural-looking and effective. The only thing I saw was that you had broken wrists in the the flat (even though you said ignore those;)) and that your release should be a couple inches lower, so your hands are resting on his crest, not the top of his mane. As someone else said, you could start doing an automatic if you and your trainer feel you are ready. And yes, people still do them at all levels, though many people never bother to use one. You will do much better in the higher eq classes with an auto. You guys really do look awesome together! I'm jealous!:D

IsolaBella09
Apr. 19, 2009, 02:12 PM
Wait, what other releases are there? I can only think of an automatic release. You think I should be doing an automatic release? If so, I'll definitely take that as a complement! :yes: But...do people still do those? At local levels?

You bet. :yes: I prefer an automatic release over a crest release anyday. In the middle of the air I just think, hands towards the bit, not along his mane. Works for me. ;)

Petstorejunkie
Apr. 19, 2009, 02:22 PM
[QUOTE=theroanypony;4032254] But...do people still do those? At local levels?[/QUOTEhistory lesson: before george morris there was no such thing as a crest release. You used to have a neck tie on your horse you grabbed about midneck so that you wouldn't catch a horse in the mouth while developing your base. The crest release was created as a temporary fix btween the neck tie and automatic release. It was never meant to be something you did at a show! Crest release is a tool that got thrown way out of proportion. George himself announced publically a few years back that rider equitation wasn't as good as it should be because his own invention!
Yeah get rid of the cr judges with knowledge of the styles history will appreciate it.

damecheval
Apr. 19, 2009, 03:09 PM
You have very nice eq! I feel the same way a lot of the time. Last summer I was training a pony and I took him into his first over fences class. I came out of the ring and said, "Oh god. My equitation was just awful!" She laughed and said that I had actually looked very nice. Turns out that I placed third in the class. Sometimes it's just a matter of how the horse is balanced (I was riding a very green pony), the size of the pony relative to you, or how much you're focusing on your equitation. If you've had eq hammered into your head, then you probably have really good equitation when you're not thinking about it; so if you're just concentrating on the course and your horse, then you probably just aren't thinking about it!

rabicon
Apr. 19, 2009, 03:18 PM
Nice eq. cute pony. The only thing I could say is your leg slips back a teeeennnnyyyy bit in a few pictures but you are very lovely over. I'd say get rid of the crest release and start working on an auto release. Your strong enough to do it and have great position of it. It will also make your horse jumping even better.;)

theroanypony
Apr. 19, 2009, 03:21 PM
Thank you everyone! My trainer has asked me if I was ready to think about the auto release, but I didn't see any point in learning it if the crest release was just as good. Also, no one in our circuit does it, or at least very few. But if it makes me ride better and stand out more, I'm all for it! I looked through old books and love the fact that you keep contact over the jump, not just throw it away. Will talk to my trainer tomorrow, if she's still game, I'm sure I'll ask for a new critique soon! :D

In the Air
Apr. 19, 2009, 04:24 PM
Your release and position looks about right for long stirrup which is what I believe you are showing in. Your leg is slipping back a bit over some of the jumps. You can work on waiting in front of the jumps and putting less weight on the crest and more into your leg. On the flat you need to rotate your toes out slightly so you can break down into your heals a little bit more. Careful of turning your hands over. Perhaps Missy will chime in as she was judging at that show and in that ring on the first day. Over all you look very nice.
Good job.

theroanypony
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:01 PM
Thanks! I used to turn my feet too far out, now that my leg is stronger it's hard to turn my feet out even the slightest bit. If I turn my feet out, it turns my leg. Is that the way it's supposed to be, or should I be turning just my feet and not my leg? My hands are normally bad, my trainer is constantly on to me about my puppy hands. However, my crest release is usually never so bad. If you notice, only my left hand is floating up, my right hand is more on his neck. I had a lot of issues with my left hand at this show. On the first day I broke my thumb, which made things rather awkward with my reins and bat. It hurt really bad to press my hand into the side of his neck and if I don't do that, my hands float. It so bad, I couldn't even fill out my monogram order! :lol:

In the Air
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:18 PM
Simply line up your feet with your knees. Unless you have a completely flat saddle, your feet shoudl be in line with your knees. What ever angle your knees are from your hips, your feet should be directly under them. Does that make sense to you? Your feet are never turned out more than your knees nor are they turned in more. It is like standing on the ground. Everything needs to line up.

hiddenlake
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:54 PM
You have a lovely leg. In a very few pictures you appear to be pinching at the knee but that's the exception rather than the rule. In many of the o/f pics you are sinking your weight nicely into your heel. In most of the pictures your back is also flat and your eyes are up. Nice work!

I echo the opinion that it's time for an automatic release. Look at pictures 12, 15, 32, & 37 and see how your tight release is keeping your pony from using his head and back. Look at his mouth in 37 and that should help you understand the impact a tight crest release has on him. You don't do it all the time though. Look at picture 10 where you have a little bit of slack in the rein--notice how his ears are forward and he's able to use his head and neck differently. You have an excellent base and don't need to rely on your hands, so practice giving him a bit more rein by pushing your hands a little forward and down along his neck toward the bit. You don't have to throw your reins away--just work at it until you find the right amount of contact for both of you.

One more thing---if you can, I recommend you find another pair of boots. The ones you have are really low in front and they affect the overall picture. They're not so bad on the side---a little short but not glaringly so. Whatever brand they are, they dip too low in front.

Again, nice work. You are a solid rider and you have every reason to be confident in your eq!

theroanypony
Apr. 19, 2009, 11:51 PM
Thanks for the critique! Did look at the photos you suggested. My trainer likes for me to ride courses on a looser rein, but I have a hard time keeping him straight enough after lines to get his changes, so that makes a loose contact tough. I'm definitely going to talk to her about the auto release, that would be a great solution!


One more thing---if you can, I recommend you find another pair of boots. The ones you have are really low in front and they affect the overall picture. They're not so bad on the side---a little short but not glaringly so. Whatever brand they are, they dip too low in front.

I just wanted to comment on this quote. My boots are high enough that they leave rubs on the backs of my knees. I know they look a little short, but I can't stand for them to be any higher. If it doesn't effect my riding, and is just a cosmetic thing, I don't really mind. I have scars on the backs of my knees from the size taller, my doctor suggested me to get shorter boots because I was causing such bad damage to the backs of my knees.

ccoronios
Apr. 20, 2009, 03:25 PM
Roanypony -

If your judges only come from local barns, probably IS no need to learn an auto-release. I've seen a lot of 'trainers' who wouldn't know one if it bit them.

However, your trainer obviously doesn't fit in that category - thank God for her! - and if your judges come from other parts of the country, you and your autos will ASTOUND them - in the most positive way.

Your eq is quite lovely - congrats to your trainer - and you for working hard. Cute pair!

Carol

hessy35
Apr. 20, 2009, 03:31 PM
Nice eq. cute pony. The only thing I could say is your leg slips back a teeeennnnyyyy bit in a few pictures but you are very lovely over. I'd say get rid of the crest release and start working on an auto release. Your strong enough to do it and have great position of it. It will also make your horse jumping even better.;)

I agree... drop the stirrup just one hole (maybe just 1/2 a hold) and you might not have the leg slipping problem. You'll balance a little better and then be better able to use the crest release. But you look great!

rabicon
Apr. 20, 2009, 03:58 PM
For a good judge the auto will make you stand out from the crowd. If its just schooling shows with back yard judges then they may not even notice but as GM says everyone should learn the auto release when they are as nice and balanced and strong of a rider as you are. ;)

theroanypony
Apr. 21, 2009, 06:16 PM
Tried the automatic release today! Please remember that it was my first attempt, I was riding alone, and I really only had seen a few photos of what an auto release looks like, so don't laugh! :D Also, I was so focused on my release that I really wasn't paying attention to anything else.

Crest release with more rein. (http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259200322_765875322_6365065_2632418_n.jpg)
Crest release with less rein. (http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259205322_765875322_6365066_2096286_n.jpg)
Kind of a line from elbow to bit... (http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259235322_765875322_6365072_1509546_n.jpg)
Longer reins. (http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259245322_765875322_6365074_5986217_n.jpg)
Now I'm just bracing.. (http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259250322_765875322_6365075_7678188_n.jpg)

I didn't feel less or more balanced when attempting the auto release. I also couldn't feel/see a difference in the way my pony jumped. However, we were only jumping small verticals (I figured if I caught him in the mouth, it'd be less annoying). We also weren't having the best day, he was really excited and fired up. Normally I don't jump him alone or outside of lessons, he actually spooked for the first time. He seemed really happy though, with his ears pricked, right up until the fence of course. I really wasn't riding well either, craptastic spots to every fence, etc etc.

woodhillsmanhattan
Apr. 21, 2009, 07:58 PM
Your auto release looks lovely actually. I would stick to using it with the shorter rein though. The whole point of the auto release is to maintain light contact through the air. I don't believe in he release really making your horse jump any better than they do with the crest release really, but you will see the difference when you have more control and are better able to navigate your course. It is an advanced move because it is a useful tool for the advanced riders who ride the advanced courses and need more control to perform well :).

theroanypony
Apr. 21, 2009, 08:39 PM
Thanks! It was really tough figuring out how much contact/release to use, it's just gonna take time to balance it out I guess. I'm really excited to try it over real fences, with my pony actually jumping, not just stepping!

IsolaBella09
Apr. 21, 2009, 08:41 PM
Your auto release looks great! Continue practicing it. Just think hands towards the bit rather than along his mane. Ditto on the shorter rein, but yes, it does take a couple of tries to figure out where you are most comfortable putting your hands. Overall, good job! Keep up the good work! ;)

Mac123
Apr. 21, 2009, 08:56 PM
Tried the automatic release today! Please remember that it was my first attempt, I was riding alone, and I really only had seen a few photos of what an auto release looks like, so don't laugh! :D Also, I was so focused on my release that I really wasn't paying attention to anything else.

Crest release with more rein. (http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259200322_765875322_6365065_2632418_n.jpg)
Crest release with less rein. (http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259205322_765875322_6365066_2096286_n.jpg)
Kind of a line from elbow to bit... (http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259235322_765875322_6365072_1509546_n.jpg)
Longer reins. (http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259245322_765875322_6365074_5986217_n.jpg)
Now I'm just bracing.. (http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs011.snc1/2898_178259250322_765875322_6365075_7678188_n.jpg)

I didn't feel less or more balanced when attempting the auto release. I also couldn't feel/see a difference in the way my pony jumped. However, we were only jumping small verticals (I figured if I caught him in the mouth, it'd be less annoying). We also weren't having the best day, he was really excited and fired up. Normally I don't jump him alone or outside of lessons, he actually spooked for the first time. He seemed really happy though, with his ears pricked, right up until the fence of course. I really wasn't riding well either, craptastic spots to every fence, etc etc.
The first picture of the auto is the best - you're simply following his head and neck forward which is as it should be. Auto = following hand. You may not have felt a difference but it is there - Compare the use of his back and neck in that picture to the first two crest release photos. He is happier with his ears and reaching forward a bit more with a more open throatlatch with a better follow through in the back. The difference is that you're giving him something to stretch into. Just like on the flat, horse's can't stretch into a loopy rein with no contact. You have to give them a place to go.

The feel you should strive for is to let your arm be elastic and give what your pony takes. A stride away he should start to telescope the neck forward -simply follow that forward by sliding the hand down the line of the scapula and forward.

The beauty of the auto is that you can get "craptastic" distances and still give the pony confidence by maintaining contact. They find light contact much more comforting than tossing the reins at them. Remember, a confidently ridden bad distance is just another distance to the pony - for all they knew, you chose that distance and it's their job to jump from there!

theroanypony
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:35 AM
Thanks! I'm definitely going to continue to work on my auto release. It sure did make staying straight after the fence easy. That makes a world of difference in our performance, if he gets the slightest bit crooked or turns too soon, we can kiss a lead change for that turn goodbye.

Mac - I opened one of the crest release photos and the first auto one, I flicked back and forth and you're right! There definitely is a difference in the way he was using himself. Thanks for all the info about the release! :)

Applesauce
Apr. 25, 2009, 01:20 PM
Good job on working so hard. You have an absolutely lovely foundation and good solid basics. Congratulations to your trainer for teaching you so many things the right way and also to you for listening and applying the skills she has taught you.

My only critique and it's a very small one is that I would lengthen your stirrup holes maybe 1/2 or one hole. In your updated photos I really think that if you had a little more length in your stirrups you would be able to really sink down into your heels more. You have a nice lovely long leg so why not show it off!

theroanypony
Apr. 27, 2009, 09:48 AM
Just as another quick update. I talked to my trainer in my last lesson about using the auto release, she agreed that my pony would more than likely be much happier with it. However, I don't think she was too impressed with my auto release. It may look fine in the photos I posted, but I didn't realize how much more difficult it would be to use it in a course, rather than over singles. I started out by not even remembering to do it, when I did, I forgot how to! So the courses were awkward with me using the crest release over some fences, the auto over others, when I remembered. The crest release is like an automatic habit for me. I'm also having trouble keeping my back from rounding while attempting it. Anyone have any tips?

I guess for the next show, which is this weekend, I'm going to use the crest release. As excited as my trainer was about me using it, I don't think even she can get me to learn it in a week. I plan on working really hard over the summer and we'll have plenty of shows in the fall to debut the release at, I'd like to get it much nicer before trying to use it at shows.