"cats look down on you, dogs look up to you, and ponies are your equal"
"cats look down on you, dogs look up to you, and ponies are your equal"
I'm not posting the video. It's far worse than goodpony's.
Once the camera was on, I forgot how to ride. I forgot that lateral movements and transitions existed, forgot the arena had corners, and forgot to use my seat to put my horse together. I usually ride a lot figures and transitions to get the horse off her forehand and I didn't at all for those 11 minutes. I also hurried the warm up along, as my OH isn't horsey and I feel bad when he's hanging around at the barn, being bored.
when I first started to do the videos I felt the same way--like the camera went on and the brain shut off. Slowly over time though Im starting to lose that "someone is watching" feel. And truthfully I don't know that I care so much anymore "what I look like." I think the videos are very helpful in the since they give a fairly accurate view of one ride. They are almost never the best stuff or the day we had the great ride.
Here is what I noticed from my ride.
I looks to me like my right stirrup is a little longer than my left--this seems to be an ongoing issue with me/pony. Pony would like to push me off to the right with his barrel and would rather not 'bend" at all in the rib cage. I have also noticed a problem when saddling the pony--that the saddle doesnt want to sit square and I have to be really careful how it is positioned. It looks right after my ride. I am going to check with my saddle fitter (husband) to be sure everything is ok with the saddle itself. I have to check and recheck all through my ride that we are sitting straight and saddle is square. Its also prompted me to be more conscious of working him more evenly on both sides.
I sometimes think I would like to disown my left arm and right side--its a bear but my right is stronger than my left and I have to practice, practice, practice sitting straight and not collapsing over my right hip (this has something to do with the above!). Its hard to see in the video because its not the best quality but I was struggling with my keeping my hands together/square/correctly positioned (whatever) and rotating my upper body (shoulders) while sitting squarely with my hips yesterday--so much I felt like an "up-down". Was really fiddling with my hand position-ugh. He would also like 'bend' too much in the neck--(have to constantly remind myself about even contact/upper body/hand position blah blah). We are just going to keep working at it till eventually we get it more right (hopefully in this lifetime).
Lastly maybe I should try not shoving with my upper body in the trot-canter transition--what is shown I think is one of the first trot-canters and those are sometimes sticky but get better as we continue. Our canter-trots have always been better than our trot-canter(they are not usually terrible, he is normally obedient but not always submissive)--our halt or walk-canters are so much fun I neglected to work on trot-canters. In our case its highly likely that this is an area we need to work at.
One thing that is not shown is our Canter Right where when I relax my seat to to try to go with him more he misinterprets this as a request to transition to trot. Its my fault--earlier in the year when he would do this I would rebalance before asking him to take up the canter again. I now know that no matter how ugly we go right back to canter right away. Its something I really have to watch! He was better yesterday (only tried once to fall out of canter). In his case I am not convinced its a lack of balance (at least none that I can discern) but a miscommunication that I created---I know now I have to really 'keep riding' especially going right.
I did find a soft spot on his heel--will have hubby take a look (hubby is also farrier). Tis just the season for that sort of thing and well, Jack Hammers might be enough to get him jazzed up in the paddock--so who knows.
I will agree also that learning on smaller guys is really cool - i wish i had downsized ages ago.... so much is easier but not everything.... the suppleness and flexibility can be more challenging since they are shorter backed/shorter legged/etc.
i am training my own "little guy" now... mine is 15h 4 yo (the fellow that was having trouble being forward) he has changed so much over the past few months... i dont hardly recognize him...
I think for me the biggest benefit is that the pressure is so much less! if you have a super fancy WB (which i also have) the pressure to do well and advance is tremendous! and if you fail then the failure is seen as much bigger....
at this point, the little guy is trucking along and progressing like gang busters! so exciting!
to keep this French related: here is a question what do you trainer folks do to teach your horses to lift in the shoulders? its just something i am pondering lately.....
GP - one sidedness is normal for horses and ponies as you know. it is one of the challenges to make then even side to side and working evenly into the contact.
what works for us is to be sure to work both sides evenly, to do a lot of bended lines, working to be sure the horse is bent head to tail, stepping off energetically and evenly behind.... I also make sure i am not crossing my left hand over the withers... if so i know i am not using enough inside leg or getting enough of a reaction to that aid.
i think, based on your vids, that you could up the difficulty of the work ie do smaller circles, ask for more energy and ask for more throughness over the topline...
also i agree it appears that there is either something "off".....
He might be 'off' in rythm to the rider's posting rythm.
A recent book said that it takes 10,000 repetitons of an action to "over-write" the information on our neuropathways--and that whole process takes even longer when one is older than 25. If you don't believe it, just ask someone who takes up dance, playing an instrument, or martial arts in mid-life. :)
I start with transitions. Getting my big guy to rock back on his hind quarters, then push forward keeping his head and neck up, never low or btv, to give him the look and feel of the shoulders lifting. In fact his hind end is sinking whilst his back is relaxed so he “comes up in front.” Now, mind you we are just starting out with these exercises so I go slowly and never too much at the start.
Doing very small gymnastic grids has really helped him in strengthening and balancing off the hind end. (I keep them small as he was trained a jumper but the previous barn over jumped and abused him thus causing him to shut down). Thus instead of adding height, I add check poles to assure he takes off and lands in a precise manner helping him to adjust himself. My grids are 3 fences consisting of trot poles to small cross rails to a last vertical of 12” high but the distance is tight (the check poles are halfway between each fence) and he must really use his body to negotiate it.
After 3 passes through the grid. I then practice my half halts, transitions canter/halt/reculer and I get a sinking haunch a lifting shoulder and power in the upward.
This is a technique I learned in France from ENE trained instructors and I find it helps greatly - this school employs jump training regularly to help mostly the non baroque types to develope the strength necessary to perform classical movements (you’ll also see this type of work with those who trained with Klimke and the like). Especially helps with my non baroque BWP !! Baroques in general tend to do this naturally!!!
resulting in lightness and mobility of the forehand. Because the center of mass is shifted backward, the forehand is lightened and elevated; the horse feels more ‘uphill’. The horse’s neck is raised and arched and the whole top line is stretched. He shows shorter, but powerful, cadenced, steps and strides. Elevation must be the result of, and relative to, the lowering of the hindquarters. This is called ‘Relative Elevation’. It indicates a training problem if the horse raises his neck without displacement of his center of mass to the rear. This is called ‘Absolute Elevation’ and can, if pervasive,
adversely affect the horse’s health and his way of going. Collection with Relative Elevation will enhance the horse’s selfcarriage, so that he can be ridden almost entirely off the seat, and the aids of the legs and especially those of the hands can become very light.” [USDF Glossary of Judging Terms]
Just something to think about with respect to wether its about "lifting the shoulders" or wither or if its really about lowering the hind quarters.
With my guy its always about developing more thrust from behind--developing more "change" between and within gaits. As his lateral work has developed from beginner to more 'correct' type lateral there is a 'definite" change in his "balance/uphillness/Collection"---its so obvious the change in his balance I know if I dont have him coming UP when I ask for the lateral work we are doing something wrong. Thats not saying we have anything like big expressive steps---but for now I will keep the 'balance' and work towards taking larger steps.
Pony was awesome today--way more together and no funny stuff.
I just wanted to share my latest update---I had a lesson this morning in which the one thing we have worked really hard to confirm these last few weeks/months finally Clicked for my guy. Today for the first time with consistency I got my boy really through and straight into both reins. So much so I was able to release and maintain not only the bend, straightness and elastic connection but our tempo/rhythm and our track on the circle with out effort (even with changes in bend and direction). From there we went into SI--> R on the circle which my boy was able to do with fluidity and lightness/elasticity. Before my lesson we did both the standing bit flexions and stepping over exercises. As you already know Im deaf but one thing I was able to hear was my instructor saying "Beautiful" and I think it was some of our best work to date. If you knew my instructor you would know she is not one to be overcomplementary so it was a very good day.
Even more interesting I think is our endeavor to learn the Spanish Walk and it seems to be coming right along (though nothing like finished). At the end of my ride gave me several Steps of beginning SW leg stretching---its such a cool feeling when he rises up through the wither completely 'uphill" in his frame/balance to take these steps. This is something he is offering up in response to my aides--- as litterally I have no training to teach this excursive (just what I could learn from several articles). More importantly and most rewarding is that the work in hand has changed his entire outlook/attitude and only strengthened our partnership. Its almost like there was this whole other personality in there just waiting to be let out. For me it seems to have carried over into his enthusiasm for under saddle work. Anyhow just wanted to share even though it seems I have already said too much.
just wanted to say I recieved a copy of Racinets Another Horsemanship which I breezed through last night--the descriptions of the "School Walk" and the "Counted Walk" as well as the diagrams of the preparatory work for the Single Flying Changes was quite interesting-but a little vague especially with respect to the School Walk--does anyone have a link to video of the "School Walk" Im interested in trying to understand how the School Walk produces a "Diagonalizing Effect"--just very curious.
thanks for the info GP and cool about the work you are doing.
do you not find the Spanish walk helping in your ponys' freedom of shoulders?
I know a lot of the Spanish walk and other in hand work specifically is used to address freedom of shoulders etc so i was curious.
i do know that the withers will come up as the topline stretches etc and of course collection helps too.
i think i am asking something different.... ?
At the moment we are not really using it for anything---so far I have only asked for just a 'stretch' on each side as we come back to the stable--one, two maybe three if he is offering and we're done. Im going to keep 'playing with it'" but by the end of our work week he's getting pretty enthusiastic in his leg stretching--so I want to try to keep a lid on that. I have not tried to combine the normal walk with the leg stretches under saddle yet-only really just tried to test if he could make the connection from the inhand to the ridden. I don't think he has developed to the exercise enough to realize a gymnasticizing effect. Just by his response though I now understand what it means to 'Lift the Wither" LOL! Little man can get very uphill--how we got there exactly remains somewhat of a mystery.
I personally think what lifts the shoulders for me--is striving to perfect our harmony, through a very relaxed supple seat, correctly timing the aides ext--blah blah. (that is the goal)--the Stirrup Stepping Concept was the ideal means for me to really hone in on this skill as it clearly illustrated how we the riders affect our horses gaits/balance through very subtle means.
I have read now in different texts also that SW be used as a sort of segway in teaching Passage. Though there is likely a hidden hitch to this methodology especially for me the undereducated amatuer.
"Passage may also be obtained by a transition to trot from Spanish Walk" from Another Horsemanship. I forget where else I read similar.
Fugly blog just posted a bunch of articles on how jaw/dental issues effect the horse as a whole. I thought it was interesting as it reminded me of the French obession with releasing the jaw to get relaxation throughout the body and balance work in hand as the first training steps. One of the articles states: "Any tightness in the muscles, tendons or ligaments of the TMJ Mechanism will inhibit the function of the TMJ. In the event of these muscles tightening and shortening, the body then negatively compensates for the imbalance. The proper function of the TMJ Mechanism therefore plays an important role in the whole function of the horse, including leads, gaits, balance and equilibrium." The natural horsemanship crowd has long made this connection as well by rewarding horses for licking and chewing and its connection to relaxed learning. Anyways, I've been creeping on this thread for awhile, just thought I'd chime in!
regarding releasing the jaw - this is also done in the german system - altho not really called that - but for any horse to work well they have to be unconstrained ... the french seem to use flexions for it while germans system tends to use school figures and impulsion.
as an example: just yesterday the 4 yo managed to hold a piece of carrot in his back teeth and would not release in his jaw! i felt it as being very stiff but my trainer felt what it was in an instant and we dropped his bit and let him let go of the carrot - then he worked well again....
it was an interesting "aha" moment for me.
Now, of course, that's not the way it ought to be. BUT, it is one of the easiest places for people with a 'bad' seat to 'get classical.'
I never advise anyone who is unaware of their seat usage to use any kind of advanced rein aids.