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rescuemom
May. 2, 2001, 08:43 AM
Donning my flame-proof suit, I offer my perspective on the Ritter clinic I rode in this weekend. /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

This was one of the best lessons I have ever had, and I hope to be able to clinic with Thomas again this summer/fall. I planned and schooled for this clinic for weeks because I was afraid my NSH mare, Ivy, would blow up and we would provide the entertainment section of the clinic. As it was, she was very relaxed for her, about a 4 where 10 is tornado wind behavior. I think the barn setup helped with this. The stalls are adjacent to and viewing into the indoor arena, with each stall separated by small wire mesh. She could watch everything that was going on, and since I switched my ride time from 11:30 to 2:15 she had plenty of time to relax.

I rode without flash and on a longer rein than I have used lately. This seemed to have the effect of encouraging Ivy to round and think about coming
on the bit more readily than she normally would. The only time I was instructed to pick up more rein was before cantering, and even then the rein
was longer than our usual for walk/trot.

The first thing corrected was a loosening of the girth by one hole, followed by shortening my stirrups one hole. Thomas tried to adjust my leg position, knee more in and leg back. This was quite difficult to do while maintaining my seat position. I just love finding these previously undiscovered muscles, but it gives me something else to work on. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif This was followed up by
reminders to sit back (one of my weaknesses), which somehow put me in a slightly different sitting position than I have experienced before. At the end of our lesson I thanked Thomas for helping me get the best sitting trot I have ever achieved on this horse!

Dr. Ritter asked questions of Ivy's capabilities and problems, and something of my riding level. I told him Ivy knew more than I did and what she was
working on when I got her. Our initial lap was quite quick with Ivy racing around ignoring me. He started us on small transitions of walk-halt,
trot-halt, with the halt requested through alternating reins rather than both reins at the same time. We progressed to 20m. circles, and voltes at walk and trot with Ivy showing some of her counterflexion. His fix for this was to lighten the outside rein, which was more quickly effective than previous fixes.

On to more intensive transitions: full pass, from centerline to wall, turn on forehand, halt, reinback to trot, in varying sequence, and then done every two strides, and into tight corners I thought even small and flexible Ivy couldn't negotiate. It got both of us very focused and she was quite soft. Back to trot circles and shoulder in, spiraling in and out. Ivy would volunteer a canter when she did not care to exert herself as much as asked, and I managed to stay out of two point when she did this, another hard-to-break habit, after the first time. We finished with a bit of canter work, getting soft and non-racing departs. I think we could have gone on for
another 15 mins. even though the work was pretty intensive, especially those tight transitions. One of the auditors told me later that to her my ride looked like a lot of work, very difficult, but it didn't seem that way to me nor feel like it was for Ivy.

I have nothing negative to say about Mr. Ritter, the venue, the horses, their treatment, or anything else. It was a wonderful experience and I took away lessons upon which, judging from my ride at home last night, my horse and I can build (instead of fight) our way up the scale. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

rescuemom
May. 2, 2001, 08:43 AM
Donning my flame-proof suit, I offer my perspective on the Ritter clinic I rode in this weekend. /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

This was one of the best lessons I have ever had, and I hope to be able to clinic with Thomas again this summer/fall. I planned and schooled for this clinic for weeks because I was afraid my NSH mare, Ivy, would blow up and we would provide the entertainment section of the clinic. As it was, she was very relaxed for her, about a 4 where 10 is tornado wind behavior. I think the barn setup helped with this. The stalls are adjacent to and viewing into the indoor arena, with each stall separated by small wire mesh. She could watch everything that was going on, and since I switched my ride time from 11:30 to 2:15 she had plenty of time to relax.

I rode without flash and on a longer rein than I have used lately. This seemed to have the effect of encouraging Ivy to round and think about coming
on the bit more readily than she normally would. The only time I was instructed to pick up more rein was before cantering, and even then the rein
was longer than our usual for walk/trot.

The first thing corrected was a loosening of the girth by one hole, followed by shortening my stirrups one hole. Thomas tried to adjust my leg position, knee more in and leg back. This was quite difficult to do while maintaining my seat position. I just love finding these previously undiscovered muscles, but it gives me something else to work on. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif This was followed up by
reminders to sit back (one of my weaknesses), which somehow put me in a slightly different sitting position than I have experienced before. At the end of our lesson I thanked Thomas for helping me get the best sitting trot I have ever achieved on this horse!

Dr. Ritter asked questions of Ivy's capabilities and problems, and something of my riding level. I told him Ivy knew more than I did and what she was
working on when I got her. Our initial lap was quite quick with Ivy racing around ignoring me. He started us on small transitions of walk-halt,
trot-halt, with the halt requested through alternating reins rather than both reins at the same time. We progressed to 20m. circles, and voltes at walk and trot with Ivy showing some of her counterflexion. His fix for this was to lighten the outside rein, which was more quickly effective than previous fixes.

On to more intensive transitions: full pass, from centerline to wall, turn on forehand, halt, reinback to trot, in varying sequence, and then done every two strides, and into tight corners I thought even small and flexible Ivy couldn't negotiate. It got both of us very focused and she was quite soft. Back to trot circles and shoulder in, spiraling in and out. Ivy would volunteer a canter when she did not care to exert herself as much as asked, and I managed to stay out of two point when she did this, another hard-to-break habit, after the first time. We finished with a bit of canter work, getting soft and non-racing departs. I think we could have gone on for
another 15 mins. even though the work was pretty intensive, especially those tight transitions. One of the auditors told me later that to her my ride looked like a lot of work, very difficult, but it didn't seem that way to me nor feel like it was for Ivy.

I have nothing negative to say about Mr. Ritter, the venue, the horses, their treatment, or anything else. It was a wonderful experience and I took away lessons upon which, judging from my ride at home last night, my horse and I can build (instead of fight) our way up the scale. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

rileyt
May. 2, 2001, 08:48 AM
EXCELLENT review Rescuemom! (And how bold of you to post considering the previous "Ritter debacle"! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif) Thanks for the first hand review. If anybody comes flaming,... I'll bring my fire hose.

Velvet
May. 2, 2001, 08:52 AM
(rileyt, you should know better than to make promises you cannot keep. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif )

It sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot and are communicating more effectively with your horse. Isn't this what riding and clinicing is all about? Keep going. Keep enjoying yourself!

Thanks for sharing.

KellyS
May. 2, 2001, 12:13 PM
"Building (instead of fighting) our way up the scale"

Isn't that the main point? No matter what trainer, methods, or tack you are using - if you and your horse are happily working together and making progress - that's what's important!

I'm glad your clinic went so well! Thanks for posting a great report. I too have a mare that I am focusing on working with instead of fighting with. She is quite independent minded and the approach to training her is a bit unconventional but works. As long as riding stays fun for both of us and we are moving forward, I'm happy! Good luck with your riding.

ljo
May. 2, 2001, 05:15 PM
Thank you for sharing that. What's an NSH mare? I can't figure it out.

Louise
May. 2, 2001, 05:33 PM
I'll answer for rescuemom, because I know the answer, ta da!! Ivy is a National Show Horse -- half Arab and half Saddlebred.

bonnzilla
May. 2, 2001, 06:48 PM
what's a full pass?

great clinic report. THAT;s what a clinic should be like for folks. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

bONeatincookies

rescuemom
May. 2, 2001, 08:13 PM
bon, I'd never heard of a full pass either. I just guessed it was (supposed to be) a straight sideways movement, and sure enough, that's what he wanted. This was done between the quarterline and the wall, or a couple between centerline and wall, at the walk.

Trocadero
May. 3, 2001, 04:41 AM
In a thread on the Classical Dressage Forum, Dr. Ritter explains that a full-pass is a diagnostic tool to see whether the horse is accepting the calf aids. He says it improves obedience and can help bring the horse in front of the leg.

I have never tried a full-pass nor has any trainer ever requested I do one. If I tried this exercise on my current mount, it would screw up my lateral work, I think. I have enough trouble keeping forward at half-pass. I don't see how this exercise can help *get* the horse in front of the leg, although I think it could certainly show that it wasn't.

I currently have a problem using too much calf aid, so I'm not going to attempt full pass any time soon.

jl
May. 3, 2001, 12:35 PM
but why'd he have you loosen the girth?
Otherwise. thanks so much for the report!

rescuemom
May. 4, 2001, 10:31 AM
He had me loosen the girth because he thought it was too tight. He was probably correct, even though I use a eurogirth. My horse has been going through weight fluctuations lately and I quite likely did overtighten one hole.

He did say a too-tight girth is something he often sees, and cringed when I told him my trainer often tightens more than I do. He prefers string girths, FWIW.

jl
May. 5, 2001, 12:44 PM
what determines if the girth is too tight?

rescuemom
May. 7, 2001, 08:33 AM
Would you stop asking the difficult questions! /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif I'll have to guess here and say that TRitter has developed an eye for seeing a too-tight girth. I'd also guess that too-tight means tigher than what is needed to keep the saddle in place. Most of the "theory" of girth tightening I've been taught boils down to "keep tightening until you can't tighten no more." Maybe that isn't correct; it certainly wouldn't be if we were discussing how tight to make the belts around our waists. /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

Velvet
May. 7, 2001, 08:37 AM
When you tighten the belt around your waist you don't have any ribs stopping it from digging into your organs and you also are not trying to carry around a heavy, animated object attached to your belt.

I've always been a firm believer in keeping the girth as tight as possible so that the saddle does not shift. Having it rub or slide creates a potential for sores/rubs and since most riders are crooked, your are shifting the saddle with them and throwing the horse even further out of balance. Not to mention how unsafe a loose girth can be in a dangerous situation. They were never invented just for looks, but are rather an important part of the safety and comfort for both horse and rider.

JMHO

Louise
May. 7, 2001, 08:50 AM
On one of the occasions when I was having my saddle restuffed, the saddler commented to me that my girth was too tight. I asked him about shifting, and he commented that, if the saddle was fitted properly, it would not shift or rub and that, ideally, (I'm not trying this /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif ) you should be able to ride without a girth.

Velvet
May. 7, 2001, 09:01 AM
In an ideal world. Too bad I can't seem to have a saddle that fits that perfectly. *sigh* What ever happened to the day when everything was custom made???

jl
May. 8, 2001, 06:34 AM
(I think!. I've also been taught that the girth is tightened as much as possible to avoid rubbing. And, have landed first on my mare's neck, and then on a little oxer as a result of a saddle slipping years ago, I've become a wee bit paranoid about having the girth tight enough.
However, I just read an article in the Smithsonian about the training of novice riders for the park police. These riders are trained, in part, WITHOUT any girth at all on the premise that, if you sit properly, the saddle won't move.

Bumpkin
May. 8, 2001, 08:32 AM
Congratulations rescuemom, glad to hear you had donned the flame suit and made an honest through report.
Velvet you can order custom anytime /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif
I know my horse is very naughty when his girth is too tight.
I was taught if you have a double ended elastic girth, perhaps that is h/j not dressage, to never tighten the girth too tight. /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Velvet
May. 8, 2001, 08:41 AM
But they don't always get it right and the cost is prohibitive. Too bad the saddler isn't right on the corner, like they once were. (Well, at least they aren't in my neck of the woods.)

CarolineP
May. 15, 2001, 04:55 AM
Hi

New here, just dropping out of lurkdom here to answer this post. Over tight girths and over tight nosebands share quite a lot in common. They both restrict the horse.

An overtight flash, drop, grackle of even cavesson will stop the horse being able to softly chew the bit and relax the jaw.

When a horse works correctly as you know he will expand his ribcage and fill your seat and legs. If your girth is too tight you can restrict him from doing this. You can block him from working correctly.

The girth should not really be necessary to keep the saddle in place unless you are riding out hacking or jumping (different circumstances require different rules) - the rider should be balanced enough and sit central enough to do this themselves.

Caroline.

rebecca yount
May. 15, 2001, 05:37 AM
of the original post. On Wednesday, I viewed a tape made by the Ritter clinic organizer's videotape person. If you wanted your own videographer to tape JUST YOUR RIDE you had to pay the full $35 audit fee for that person. My student, therefore, had the "closed shop" person designated by the organizer tape her lesson--for a fee. The quality of the tape was very poor, and I could not understand most of what the clinician was saying, I guess because it was taped from inside the viewing area. Therefore it was difficult to assess what he was telling her. She did explain, however, what was going on. If anyone is interested in my comments concerning what I saw and sort of heard, please e-mail me privately at source@erols.com.

gwynne
May. 15, 2001, 10:27 AM
Rescuemom, thanks so much for posting your clinic experience. Am very glad you had such a positive experience!
As for over tight girths; a couple years ago a local saddler who travels nationwide (most of you probably know him) adjusted my girth and my way of thinking. His tip for making sure your girth was not too tight is that you should be able to fit your fingers comfortably yet snugly between the horse's side and girth. If it pinches your fingers or you have to struggle to slide them under, loosen the girth. I struggled for years trying to prevent girth sores on my gelding. This simple yet effective tip did what every girth/girth cover known to man could not; nary a rub mark since.
Also, rescuemom...could elaborate more on the full pass exercises you performed on your mare during the clinic?

WonderPony
May. 15, 2001, 11:16 AM
TTEAM teaches to check girths on the horse's sternum. Depending upon the shape of the horse's barrel, what may feel loose on the barrel can be waayyy too tight on the sternum.

gwynne
May. 15, 2001, 11:55 AM
Wonderpony, I can see that as a more effective way of checking the girth for the horse who has a more elongated/oval shape with a deep heart girth, such as TB types. I do just that with my Oldenburg/TB mare, along with double checking the side. But for those of us who also have more round barrelled horses, like my Crabbett bred Arab, checking from the sides (below the girth buckle) works best.
Thanks for sharing the additional insight.
Now, back to Rescuemom and her original topic............

Spyder
May. 15, 2001, 12:08 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>If anyone is interested in my comments concerning what I saw and sort of heard, please e-mail me privately at source@erols.com. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hey Rebecca! I am sure that we would all be interested in another view of what was going on at Mr. Ritter's clnic. Certainly your observations as an observer are as valid as RM's were as a participant ... even if your observations are not as positive as hers. /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

gwynne
May. 15, 2001, 12:45 PM
has nothing to do with the clinician.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>...........and I could not understand most of what the clinician was saying. Therefor it was difficult to assess what he was telling her. She did explain, however, what was going on."

I think the above quote is exactly why the person tastefully requested for people wishing to hear her comments regarding the clinic should e-mail her privately. She was NOT there, the tape she made her assessments from was of poor quality, the audio was lacking in clarity, and her student translated the clinic session to her. There are many biased factors involved there, and I agree that her comments should be kept on a private level.
JMHO

Spyder
May. 15, 2001, 01:47 PM
for clarifying. I was only interested in what PARTICIPANTS or OBSERVERS thought and heard. Second- or third-hand opinions are of no consequence.

anita m
May. 15, 2001, 02:12 PM
I rode with Dr. Ritter. Although I am a student of Rebecca's I was not the student that was videotaped. However, I do have a first-hand opinion of the clinic and of Dr. Ritter.

At first I thought the clinic was very good, but then soon after the clinic when my whole pelvis/hip/lower back locked up in a great big huge muscle spasm, I began to reconsider.

While the points he mentioned to me about my position, and the areas he focused on my horse where I think for the most part correct, I have some concerns about his teaching style and methods since they caused me a good deal of body pain. I missed several days of work and am still recuperating from the strain more than 2 weeks afterward. I could barely ride in the de Kunffy clinic last weekend (and in contrast, my rides with Mr. de Kunffy were actually therapeutic rather than hurtful).

My impressions were that Dr. Ritter is a good writer but perhaps due to his youth or personality factors is not a very good teacher, at least for me. I think he tried to force changes to my position without perhaps recognizing the potential for causing harm.

He also has a habit of walking around the ring swinging a longe whip with a big long lash, making both me and my horse somewhat tense. Still, there was something to be learned, but I don't think I'll be riding with him again anytime soon.

rebecca yount
May. 15, 2001, 06:26 PM
because two of my students rode in this clinic, and I might have been interested in riding with him in the future. But the fee structure was set up such that if I had wanted to just go see my student's one single lesson, I would have been required to pay the full-day auditing fee. I appropriately asked the organizer to reconsider this for instructors or helpers who would just be there with one student, or to consider a reduced fee for part of the day, but she would not. I do notice that the website now lists the auditing fee as $20, but at the time of this clinic it was $35.00. I really can't justify paying $70 to be able to see two of my students ride with a clinician. Which is her right as the organizer. I was disturbed by my other student's physical difficulties. There is no proof that this ride (note I did not say clinician) caused the problems, but they were and remain very debilitating and occurred concurrent with the ride.

gwynne
May. 15, 2001, 06:56 PM
Rebecca, I find your forthrightness, honesty, & diplomacy demonstrated in your post regarding your students' clinic experience refreshing. "The ride was concurrent with the riders debilitation, but no proof that the ride was the cause" not an exact quote.
As for auditing fees, I agree the clinic organizer should have allowed a discount for instructors attending with their students. In my neck of the woods instructors doing just that seldom if ever pay an auditing fee. When they do it is basically a token contribution. Am not sure from your post whether you believe, or it actually was, Dr. Ritter's view on auditing fees that the organizer was upholding. But, from my experience with clinics the clinician has their own set fee for rides & auditing which the organizer and/or host farm often tacks their own fees on top of to either offset the cost of lunch/dinner, to be able to provide stalls at no upfront add'l cost to participants, for arena fees, or to show a profit. If it was Dr. Ritter's standard pricing the organizer was upholding then I would be disappointed, too.

rescuemom
May. 15, 2001, 08:08 PM
I didn't suffer any discomfort following my ride and I'm sorry to hear that Rebecca's students did. My horse, who has of late expressed what seems to be some fear of a lunge whip (and I don't know where that came from) did not have any problem with Dr. Ritter's whip. Of the other rides I saw that day no horse seemed bothered by it, and he was quiet and gentle when using the whip to generate more activity behind on an advanced horse. The lessons gleaned from my ride with Ritter have continued to be very useful in getting Ivy focused, a major issue for the horse.

I agree with Rebecca that the auditing fees were stiff both in price and structure. I would have liked to have my trainer audit as well, but I can't blame her for not wanting to spend that much to watch one ride. I don't argue with the clinic host's right to charge that. And I did pay a stall fee over and above the clinic fee. I thought it was reasonable given that my horse was there most of the day. It seemed less reasonable that if a rider wanted to come early or stay after her ride to watch others it was necessary to pay the stall fee as no trailer "stalling" was permitted.

rebecca yount
May. 16, 2001, 09:42 AM
not studentS. We have discussed possible reasons for this and truly do not mean to suggest that it was caused by the clinician. If I had been there I may have had a clearer picture of what happened. The same student, however, did ride in two private lessons with Charles deKunffy last weekend and experienced no discomfort, in fact finding the session physically therapeutic. Who knows. However, this is another reason that instructors should be welcomed to observe their students' lessons. I don't discourage my students from riding with clinicians--but things would be better integrated if the clinic had been more accessible to me. I have no idea whether the structure and fees were the idea of the clinician or the organizer. However, I have organized clinics for over ten years with such people as Charles de Kunffy, Jean Paul Pare, Jean Luc Cornille, Mary Wanless, Nico van Stigt--and most of them have a per lesson (or daily fee within which they will do a certain number of lessons) and the organizer works out a budget based on fees, airfare, hotel, meals, etc. and charges whatever he/she wants to. Depends on the situation whether I would charge for auditors and how much. No clinician has ever told me how much to charge for auditing, or even required that I charge at all. But Dr. Ritter may be different--it's not really fair for us to speculate, since we were not the organizer. Nevertheless--my personal opinion as a teacher, farm owner, and clinic organizer is that the organizer who welcomes other professionals or just observers or helpers or whatever is doing the clinician a favor by exposing his/her work to more people. And creating good public relations. (P.S. I believe I am correct in stating that Dr. Ritter has taken clinics and an instructor's course from Charles).

anita m
May. 16, 2001, 11:34 AM
that my physical difficulties were at least initiated by what the clinician was requiring me to do with me seat and legs. It made me ride very tightly and tensely, with my pelvic, stomach, and buttock muscles very tight in order to do what he wanted. I even mentioned this to him during the course of my lesson and his answer was somewhere along the lines (not a direct quote) that "Of course it hurts. Riding can be painful."

KellyS
May. 16, 2001, 01:55 PM
I looked into doing the Lucinda Green "eventing" clinic in June. Each clinic participant was given an "auditor's pass" I believe for one other person whether that be a groom/instructor/friend etc. I think it was a great idea. I couldn't end up going due to the cost, but this "pass" was a really nice idea. I would like to see more clinicians take this approach if they have set higher auditing fees.

CarolineP
May. 17, 2001, 05:44 AM
Hi

I have to admit I agree with this. Riding can hurt and often until you get the muscles and body into the position you want it then he will be painful and initially stiff.

If you have been riding around in an incorrect position you have been hampering your horse and restricting its ability to fulfill your requests and restricting your ability to give these requests clearly, simply from an independent seat.

Now from one with narrow hips it takes a lot of work and effort to stretch your legs and body where it should be. These things don't come easy and have to be worked at.

Any position correction will often leave the rider stiff and not soft initially as their body has to readjust to the status quo.

Unfortunately nothing comes easily hence me recently buying a yoga video. The woman keeps saying you will be able to reach her level in time - not unless you are a Russian gymnast I thing and then I may require an ambulance to unknot my limbs but it is helping me with my suppleness and flexibility.

Caroline.

rescuemom
May. 17, 2001, 10:18 AM
The following are explanations and comments from non-riders/auditors and the clinician that came in the wake of clinic reports on the list:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Full passes are a great diagnostic as well as gymnastic tool. They enable the rider to test whether the horse is accepting the calf aids or not, and at the same time, they improve the horse's obedience to the calf aids, i.e. they can help to bring the horse in front of the leg. They can be combined freely with turns on the forehand or on the haunches, reinback, going forward, whatever the horse needs most at the time. In this particular case, sending the mare forward into a big trot was the safest thing to do, so that she did not forget to Think Forward during the full pass.

Q: Can someone please tell me which leg is supposed to cross in front of the other in full pass? In half pass, the outside legs (to the bend and to the direction of travel) cross in front of the inside legs, so this seems logical for full pass too. However, I've been trying to teach my mare this movement from the ground so she will be able to more easily do the exercise we did at the clinic (trot-walk-halt-full pass away from the wall then forward into big trot again). She seems confused as to which leg to put in front of which but is willingly going directly to the side now. Also is she supposed to bend in the direction of travel like HP or away from the direction of travel like LY or not bent at all? Thanks.

A: In the full pass, you can bend the horse away from the direction of travel, as in the shoulder-in, which is easier for the horse. In this case, the inside legs cross over the outside legs. You can also bend the horse in the direction of travel, so that the outside legs cross over the inside ones, as in the travers, renvers, and half pass. This tends to be more difficult for the horse, especially going towards the stiffer side. It's good to practice the full pass with either bend, always starting with the easier demand.

anita m
May. 18, 2001, 09:28 AM
I don't think that riding should be painful in the sense of being debilitating. It definitely takes time and effort to stretch out those tight muscles. That is not what I objected to. What I did object to was Dr. Ritter (whether it was intentional or not) expectation that I should be able to assume the new riding position and maintain it right away, regardless of the amount of pain I was experiencing. Whereas in contrast, Mr. de Kunffy was clear to point out similar weaknesses in my position, but he gave me constructive exercises to work on to achieve the same result over time without pain or force. He was able to work with me where I was at that moment in time.

I guess I have a little bit of resentment because to date, I have lost more than 5 days of work, attended 2 1/2 weeks of physical therapy, and have been severely limited in my physical abilities, and in a lot of pain since this injury, when I feel the whole thing could have been avoided.

Trocadero
May. 18, 2001, 12:44 PM
The correct position in the saddle is extremely important and something that I believe we all can improve. I must say, though, that I've had many a 'worthless' lesson because of the instructor insisting that I immediately change the position in which I've been riding for years. It's one thing to ask the student to bring the shoulders back a bit or lower the hands, etc., but major position changes can't be made quickly.

IMHO, if one needs significant improvement or changes in their riding posture/seat, then they should get it by riding a school horse or on the lunge. When you force yourself into a new position, you strain and your body tenses up. Then, the horse suffers also.

Anita, did your horse improve while you were painfully correcting your postion? Just curious.

anita m
May. 18, 2001, 01:32 PM
Not significantly so, IMO. At least, not solely because of the changes in my position. Ritter's swinging lunge whip certainly increased my horse's suspension and impulsion, though! But still it was tense in my opinion, and I felt my horse was reacting more to the fear of the whip than any aids I was giving him.

In comparison, my second ride with de Kunffy on Saturday (Friday's lesson was not a good example, as my horse was flat and lacked suspension and forwardness, but it didn't matter because the session was for therapuetic reasons for me, for the most part) was probably the best I've ever ridden and about as good as my horse goes, according to witnesses. I much prefer the gentler method. And it certainly didn't hinder my horses gaits or way of going.

As far as my position goes, I don't think I'm THAT ineffective that I need to be on the lunge (not that we all couldn't benefit from more of that). We're talking about my toes and knees not being turned inward enough, and my heel not always being down enough, and my lumbar back not always being straight enough--not flailing legs torso, head, or anything wild like that, for goodness sake. And the resons I have these problems is becasue I was taught to keep to mostly keep the leg or spur on and the rest of the leg loose. I was never taught this "new position." Probably my worst fault is my hands are not quiet enough, but part of the reason for that was because that was partially how I was taught. De Kunffy solved this in one session by having me plant my hands on my thighs. During my second de Kunffy ride he did not let me plant my hands and I had no trouble keeping them steady, fists together, hands closed aorund the reins.

snbess
May. 18, 2001, 06:42 PM
Gee Anita,
I'm not sure I'd take it as an insult that someone suggested lunge lessons. I am a fairly effective rider (2nd/3rd level) and also have issues with my toes too far out and sometimes shoulders not back enough. I'm planning and looking forward to taking a week at a clinician's barn to ride some of her horses and have lunge lessons to improve my position. I haven't had many lunges lessons, but have enjoyed the ones I've had and crave more. It's just another in the dressage world of "there's always room to improve".

Trocadero
May. 19, 2001, 09:05 AM
Anita, in my post, I in no way meant to discredit your riding ability. I didn't express my point clearly, and I can undersand why offense was taken.

Let me try again. I have some position problems similar to what Anita describes, and I need to work on them. I know it's going to take a while to get my hip/thigh to rotate inward so the toe points forward or in. I think when I fix that, my hands will be better also. In my case, I would much prefer fixing these things while mounted on a horse where I didn't have to be concerned with getting him connected and all the other training issues we must deal with when riding. Like Anita, I am fairly effective in my riding, but I could be much better if I make some position changes.

anita m
May. 20, 2001, 05:29 PM
I didn't take any offense at all. However, because you and I have never met and you've never see me or my horse go (at least that I'm aware of) and therefore have no way of knowing what my capabilites are, I was just trying to say that I am not such an ineffective rider that I am incapable of riding my horse well under my own command and using my legs, hand, and seat aids fairly correctly on a consistent basis without damaging either myself or my horse, and must therefore immediatley be put on the lunge until I achieve such a level of competence that the reins can be given back to me!

Also, I don't think the position changes needed or asked for were major. Sometimes it takes only a subtle change that can strain or push an already tight muscle to its limit. I guess I went beyond my limits that day. It IS something to work on, I know. I am not saying that Dr. Ritter is a bad teacher or didn't know what he was talking about. I am saying that I felt his overall assessment of my riding position and my horse's weak areas was CORRECT (based on what a person can assess within the limits of a 60 minutes session), but I did not feel he was a good teacher FOR ME.

On a side note, I also found it quite interesting to find that Mr. de Kunffy pointed out the very same position changes to nearly ALL the clinic riders last weekend, even the upper level riders--the same, or very closely similar to the ones Dr. Ritter pointed out to me last weekend. Mr. de Kunffy commented to me as I chaufferred him back to his hotel one afternoon that even at the major show he judges, he often sees only a fraction of riders that have what he would consider to be good riding positions. I got the impression (although this is not a quote) but it sounded like he thinks that this is an epidemic problem because there is not enough good quality instruction available here in the US.

[This message was edited by anita m on May. 20, 2001 at 08:43 PM.]

Gaspano
May. 20, 2001, 05:36 PM
I wanted to take my horse and ride in the clinic all three days but the fee schedule is pretty steep. There's a $15 fee to take your horse off the van, walk him into the arena, ride in the lesson, walk the horse out of the stable put him on the van and leave. Whether the horse needs a stall or not, what's called a "day stall fee" has to be paid. On top of that "day stall fee" there's an overnight stable fee of $25 and the next day, another "day stall fee" is due to. So board at this place is 55 dollars a day. I had no idea that people who live in Maryland pay nearly 1400 a month for board. That's more than a lot of very good places in Westchester County, NY. I audited instead. The fee for that was $35 and $15 of that was for lunch. People were pretty upset about being charged that much money for an inch of soggy bread and a single slice of deli meat wrapped up in a bit of tinfoil. Sometimes I wonder what organizers are thinking. If auditors are discouraged by high fees, that diminishes the pool of people who would be interested in filling subsequent clinic dates. And most of the time, the clinics which fill up initially always need riders from a wait list because people get sick or horses go lame or something else intervenes and spaces for lessons open up as time goes on and the clinic dates get closer. If riders are discouraged by high fees, the clinic won't fill up in the first place and the organizer may lose a chance to get somebody really good introduced to a new location.

rebecca yount
May. 21, 2001, 03:35 AM
in board, of course! Please refer to my earlier post about fee schedules (in this thread). Board at most places is around $350 without an indoor and $450 with an indoor, to generalize! The organizer of the Ritter clinic felt that she needed to charge these extra fees (for all I know, the clinician required it) but this doesn't reflect the cost of board or even the usual practice concerning clinics. The de Kunffy clinic cost $25 per day to audit. Lunch was on your own. We had a great sound system and I think everyone thought they got their money's worth. I also had a part-day fee, and there was no day stall requirement and no charge for grooms, trainers, drivers, videotape persons, etc., as long as those people were only staying for a little while. Everyone at de Kunffy (for which I take responsibility as organizer) was honest about how long they were staying and seemed happy to pay for what they got. Please don't base your opinion on clinics in Maryland on this one experience that you had. Most of them are very approachable and accessible. Please contact me at source@erols.com if you would like information about upcoming clinics in this area.

Marieke
May. 21, 2001, 06:46 AM
Am I the only one that thinks the statement'"your ride looked like a lot of work" is not a compliment but an indication that something was really wrong with your ride?

After my ride I frequently get asked "Are you sweating???" in surprise. I work hard on my horse, but it never shows. If it looks like hard work, you're not really with the horse, a fundamental problem. I don't want to critize you ride, rescuemom, but a statement like that would worry me, if it were my ride. My goal is to effectively influence my horse with the least (visible) aids.

rescuemom
May. 21, 2001, 08:40 AM
Am I the only one that thinks the statement'"your ride looked like a lot of work" is not a compliment but an indication that something was really wrong with your ride?

I think this is an instance where internet description can't show facial expression and vocal tone and other nuances of a face to face conversation. It was clear to me that the statement was made in admiration, not critique.

If Anky rode a test where a change was required every 2 or 3 strides for 45 minutes I think it is safe to say that most viewers would think her ride "a lot of work" without being critical of her ability.

I'm certain my ride was less than perfect, and I believe I noted where improvement could be made. If I was perfect, why the heck would I pay some clinician big bucks?

suzy
May. 21, 2001, 09:31 AM
>>>After my ride I frequently get asked "Are you sweating???" in surprise. I work hard on my horse, but it never shows. If it looks like hard work, you're not really with the horse, a fundamental problem.

Okay, I'll argue the point. ;-) As an example, the horses with the really big gaits are not always the easiest to sit. My horse is one of them, and although from a distance our ride looks "easy," up close you will see that I am very definitely sweating. If you are talking about the riders who kick and flail and exhaust themselves because they are not applying the aids correctly, that's something else entirely, and they do need to develop a better seat. However, when you are either learning something entirely new or really working hard to perfect something "old," you are going to find that you have to work at it. To the observer, it may look as though you are working physically hard, mentally hard, or both. And I don't see anything wrong with that or any indication whatever that there's a "fundamental problem." It's just part of the learning process, and learning isn't always pretty. Instead, I admire people who are venturing into new territory - it takes a lot of guts; especially in a clinic situation where there are a lot of spectators.

I was at a show two weekends ago and saw some "pretty" rides in which the riders sat quietly and nicely and weren't working hard -- AND their horses were not going forward correctly. I'd much rather see someone exude some sweat but also have a horse that is really on the aids, than the "pretty" rides that lack brilliance.

As a funny non-dressage aside (but it fits perfectly), I was competing a show hunter many years ago (at age 18 - me, that is). I was so darned concerned about looking nice, that I forgot to ride my horse, and he stopped at the very first jump. From the sidelines, my instructor SCREAMED, "Stop looking pretty, and ride the horse!!!" Some of the best advice I've every gotten. ;-)

Gaspano
May. 21, 2001, 01:16 PM
Help from the ground is standard and accepted procedure in any decent riding school that teaches equitation. Horses which are fearful of the longe whip, rather than simply respectful of it, have a "hole" in their work and are very likely not before the rider's aids or the riding whip any more than they are before the longe whip. Riders would do their horses a great favor if they would understand and utilize the very valuable help good ground assistance affords.

Equitation matters. Riding with the toes out means there are a host of faults which flow from what a rider may perceive to be a very minor error. But it is not minor. If the toes are turned out, the rider's knees are also turned out. The back of the calves, not the inside, are against the horse's belly, The knees invariably pinch the horse for this is where the rider gets security. The heels are rising, the rider sits on the fork and out of alignment with the horse's center of gravity. Improper leg position means the rider is unable to give the aids either timely or with finesse. In short, what seems a little fault really means the rider doesn't sit correctly as a whole and that causes a major problem for the horse. Open hands, also an error of basic equitation skills, mean inconsistent contact through the reins. Without consistent contact from a stable seat and correct aids, the horse cannot close the circle of the aids and be ridden on the bit. This is not the horse's fault. It is the rider's fault.

Correcting rider errors is the rider's constant task and responsibility. When riders have ridden incorrectly since the Year Dot, it IS very difficult for them to change and learn to do, both physically and mentally, what is correct. The "wrong" muscles must be convinced to give up their hold and the "right" muscles have to be coaxed to work in ways never before required so the rider can sit in the horse's movement at all times. This is very difficult and muscles can be strained while this process goes on. It is the rider's job and responsibility to know his or her own limits and take a rest or even stop work altogether if necessary. Nobody knows the rider's limits except the rider. It is the rider's responsibility to tell the instructor the rider needs to take a rest break or even end the lesson. It's unreasonable for a rider to expect the instructor, who has never seen rider or a horse before, to know the limits of either within the confines of a 45 minute or hour clinic session. Realistically speaking, there's very little that can be accomplished in such a limited period of time. So it is even more unreasonable, in my opinion, for a rider, who goes beyond his or her own limits and consequently ends up with muscle spasms or strains, to complain to the entire world that the instructor should have known better or is responsible or is at fault for the rider's own mistakes. Nothing useful comes from overworking rider muscles past the point of fatigue but, on the other hand, nothing useful comes from failing to start the process, sticking with it and working at one's limit for the rest of one's riding life. Correcting equitation errors is a rider's primary task for every riding moment because excellence in equitation is the single most important factor which influences excellence in the horse's performance. It is simply unfair to expect the horse to give his all, do his best and work to the limit of his own physical and mental abilities unless the rider does.

Work on the longe to correct the seat is no penalty and no insult and no declaration of incompetence. People who understand what it takes to get even a sort of decent, let alone a good seat, welcome this work and insist upon doing it as a routine part of their training. Nobody's seat is ever good enough and certainly nobody's seat is perfect and correcting the seat by returning to work on the longe is a life's work and an obligation the rider owes to every horse.

Equitation skills in this country are extremely poor and that's everywhere. Instructors don't insist that students work on the longe because they don't know how to do this work with a student and they don't realize how valuable it really is because they never learned correct equitation skills either. Riders often get pretty insulted or miffed if work on longe is even suggested to them by a knowledgeable instructor. They have the mistaken belief that this work is "just for beginners" who have to be connected to the instructor by a longe line because they do not ride well enough to ride independently. So they pass up the very best opportunity to improve themselves and their horses feeling this work is beneath them. A rider, who works on the longe with a knowledgeable instructor every day for just a month, will make more progress and have far better skills than a rider who skips this work and rides daily for a year.

We have a clinic learning system in the US and it does not work very well at all. As a consequence, we have very poor equitation skills even in riders at the upper levels. Even at what are considered to be the "best" dressage shows, one rarely, rarely, sees a rider who sits correctly. The rare rider one does see sticks out like a beacon. At clinics, rider equitation errors are completely ignored and seat corrections are never heard. The vast majority of clinic instructors never mention equitation errors, ignore all of the rider interferences and insist that the rider correct the horse's performance as if the horse's performance can be substantially improved while the rider continues to interfere. The instructors who know equitation errors when they see them and not only comment upon and but also correct rider equitation errors are very few and very far between in the US. Ritter happens to be one of these rare few. It's a blessing to even find these people! Riders who work under these few invariably make far greater progress over time than riders who expect their horses to perform well while they continue to ride rather poorly. Riders should be delighted to find an instructor who knows what a correct seat really is and is alert in making constant corrections to assist riders to work correctly. This instruction is almost impossible to find yet it is the best help for the horse's performance a rider can possibly get. Ultimately, it's for the good of the horse.

[This message was edited by Gaspano on May. 21, 2001 at 06:12 PM.]

[This message was edited by Gaspano on May. 22, 2001 at 09:49 AM.]

CarolineP
May. 22, 2001, 04:57 AM
Thank you Gaspano

Enjoyed reading that and agree with your sentiments. THe situation is not just US based although we have less of a clinic culture over here. THe really good clinicians like Zettle don't even cross the water and it was the biggest find ever to discover Herberman cliniced here for a few days over the winter. Audited that and it was amazing.

To find someone who truly has the skills, knowledge and ability to help you is hard work. It took me a long while to find someone to whom I would trust my re-education (yes reeducation because as with most people I am relearning what I knew) to. It is not something light you are entrusting someone with but a major responsibility. The amount of people who have turned around to me and said my position is fine - scary. Even the masters were constantly correcting and refining their position - I have no allusions over how much I have to work at.

I also very much liked your comments about the fact that it is up to the rider to tell the clinician when they need a break - very true. If you don't push you don't get but there reaches a point where one gets negative returns and needs to take a little breather for a sec.

With regards to a ride looking hard work it can be taken in a number of ways. The ride should appear effortless but it is very unlikely to be. Brute strength is not the issue but body control, muscle tone, precision, concentration etc. It is also a matter of aerobic stamina and level of fitness of the rider. Riding horses does not get you aerobically fit although it is very good for developing a firm bottom (lol)! For the outsider however it should look like the rider is doing nothing - the better the rider, the better the horse the less is visible to the outside world.

Oh yes - on the subject of DQs - sorry guys - you all have no chance. I am half English, half German and live in England. Those criteria shoots me straight to the top of the pile. Doesn't matter what I do or wear - I am European - the ultimate criteria - LOL! (please forget first few paragraph whilst reading this - LOL).

Caroline

Marieke
May. 22, 2001, 11:48 AM
Miss van Grunsven has an impeccable seat. Since she was my 'opponent' last Sunday on the qualifications for the national championships in the PSG, I watched her very closely. (Unfortunatly, she beat me with riding an excellent and technical test). Her riding could not be described by hard work. Even at the chances she only shifted her weight at the precise moments. So I really disagree with the statement that her chances would look like hard work.

I still believe that hard work and riding a horse don't go together. You can be pretty on a horse, sure, but if you ride a horse you don't work hard (as in it should look effortless). If so, you are as ineffective as being pretty on the horse. Often the hard workers don't work off their seat and sometimes very clearly work against the horse. There is then a fundamental problem with their riding (and I don't say equitation as I rather see somebody crooked iwth effect then pretty and no effect, both us and the horses have conformations and my seat is not as good on one horse as it can be on the other). As with riding big gaited horses, the harder you work, the harder it is to sit to them. (and by the way, that should also be a sign that they are locked in the back and need more suppling). Riding horses is not a fitness program, it is about delicate muscle control and balance.

suzy
May. 22, 2001, 12:12 PM
Marieke, I think we are running into a language barrier here. By "hard work," I'm referring to the years of training and practice it takes to learn to ride well. That represents a big commitment of time and energy, which we refer to as "hard work." I'm also talking about the extra effort it takes to learn something new or perfect something you already know.

I think that you are using the term "hard work" to indicate a rider who is struggling physically because he/she is not sitting correctly or applying the aids correctly.

When the clinician told rescuemom that she had worked hard, he was saying that she had put in a really good effort and was obviously trying her best to understand what she was being taught as well as to put it into practice.

As far as sitting the horses with big gaits, no, I don't agree with you. Some horses are just simply easier to sit to than others. It doesn't matter how loose and wonderful my horse is in his back, he still has a tremendous amount of spring to his trot which means that I have to stay very focused on keeping my hip joints open so that I can follow his movement harmoniously. Most horses I ride don't require that I stay nearly as focused on my hips, and they aren't as much fun to ride or as beautiful to watch. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

>>>Riding horses is not a fitness program, it is about delicate muscle control and balance.

However, to have delicate muscle control and balance does require that the rider be physically fit. That is how we develop that control and balance.

[This message was edited by suzy on May. 22, 2001 at 03:35 PM.]

Marieke
May. 22, 2001, 01:31 PM
Yes Suzy I was referring to hard work in the way you are describing it. If it was meant otherwise then please see my statement as general and don't be offended rescuemom.

No about the sitting trot. A little yes about that some horses have flatter gaits which are easier to sit to, in a sense that you don't have to keep focussed and do slip into mistakes like gripping with the tighs etc much easier. I, for a reason unknown to me, only ride horses with extreme gaits. Some are KWPN approved stallions, some geldings and mares (I do share the riding with my instructor, I do not ride more then 1 horse during the weekdays, all in the weekend). All are extreme flashy movers. Currently I have an AES approved stallion that came to me with a trot, that I couldn't sit, he was terrible tense. The 2 of us have worked it out with him and suppled him beyond believe. He is now really through the back, though has his tense moments. His trot is now easy to sit to, but still very extravagant. He's almost so suplle that the chances go reallly smooth. And yes, that was terrible hard work /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif