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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 24, 2003
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    Tehachapi, Ca
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    769

    Default How do you remember to check your diagonals?

    I teach pony club and have a talented 11 yr old rider who is graduating from her pony to a horse. She is a great rider over fences and on the flat.....except that she just can't seem to remember to check her diagonals at the trot.
    When I ask if she is on the correct diagonal, she checks it and corrects it if its wrong. She can tell the difference. But for some reason, she just doesnt seem to think aboutchecking it without my asking.

    She has been doing show jumping rallies at the pony club events so being on the wrong diagonal hasnt been a problem yet. With this new horse though, she will be local shows and flat classes so its going to be an issue if she doesnt make sure she's on the right one.
    Any ideas out there to help her remember to check?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2011
    Location
    Southern Pines, NC
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    2,336

    Default

    Probably not what you want to do, but I was yelled at repeatedly until I learned to check them right away. Now I rarely--if ever--check them, I can feel it so I don't have to.

    I think a lot of it is just learning to form the habit. Who's with her when she rides outside of lessons? Mom, dad, an older sibling? Try to teach one of them what to look for so they can remind her to check until it becomes a habit.
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 26, 2008
    Posts
    1,068

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda View Post
    I teach pony club and have a talented 11 yr old rider who is graduating from her pony to a horse. She is a great rider over fences and on the flat.....except that she just can't seem to remember to check her diagonals at the trot.
    When I ask if she is on the correct diagonal, she checks it and corrects it if its wrong. She can tell the difference. But for some reason, she just doesnt seem to think aboutchecking it without my asking.

    She has been doing show jumping rallies at the pony club events so being on the wrong diagonal hasnt been a problem yet. With this new horse though, she will be local shows and flat classes so its going to be an issue if she doesnt make sure she's on the right one.
    Any ideas out there to help her remember to check?
    If my students are capable but just don't bother to check then I make them post their trot twice around the ring with no stirrups every time they are wrong...They learn quick that it's easier to check.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 4, 2010
    Location
    yonder a bit, GA
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    3,355

    Default

    I personally learn better if I have to answer questions rather than following directions. For example, "what lead are you on?" "Which way is [horsey] leaning/where is his hind end now?" You could even ask her if she's forgetting to do something after picking up the trot. Ask her while she's riding or just standing with her horse what 3 things she should check at the trot (or canter, too). I'm making that number up, but it could be "eyes, hands, heels, diagonal/lead." Get that into a mantra so that she will hear it in her head during shows.
    Good luck and have fun!
    (A decidedly unhorsey) MrB knocks over a feed bucket at the tack shop and mutters, "Oh crap. I failed the stadium jumping phase."
    (he does listen!)



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006
    Posts
    8,596

    Default

    Have you explained to her, "I want YOU to check your diagonal within two strides of picking up the trot. This is YOUR job, EVERY TIME."

    Riders don't only need to learn how to ride, they need to learn how to learn and how to self-evaluate. She won't suddenly be a proactive student on her own, you need to teach her this.

    So tell her, "It's your job to check and within two strides of picking up the trot I want you hollering across the ring at me what diagonal you're on. WITHOUT any reminders."

    Then have her do a million walk trot transitions in a row until she gets it right.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2008
    Location
    missouri
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    1,158

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Riders don't only need to learn how to ride, they need to learn how to learn and how to self-evaluate. She won't suddenly be a proactive student on her own, you need to teach her this. ..................Then have her do a million walk trot transitions in a row until she gets it right.
    ^^^^^^^^^

    Truer words never spoken. It is her responsibility, and not a riding lesson, but a LIFE lesson.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2009
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Hit her where it hurts....

    Does she just LOVE to jump? Tell her that she cannot canter or jump until she gets her diagonals right for an entire lesson. You can have a very productive flatwork lesson talking about feel and when the horses feet are touching the ground.

    I subbed for the assistant trainer at my barn and we used to play a game with the beginners I would ask a rider when the horse's (insert foot of your choice here) was hitting the ground by saying "now". We repeated the exercise at all 3 gaits. Fun and teaches about feel.

    She will remember when it becomes a priority to want to do things correctly.

    Good luck
    AU Hunter
    WAR EAGLE!!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2010
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    On The Farm In New England
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    Default

    Love it nlk! I bet that works in a hurry!



  9. #9
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    Apr. 2, 2011
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    Westchester, NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nlk View Post
    If my students are capable but just don't bother to check then I make them post their trot twice around the ring with no stirrups every time they are wrong...They learn quick that it's easier to check.
    This



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2007
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    Zone IV/Area III
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    Default

    Good ideas! I would just say that EVERY time you pick up the trot you should check. Make it a habit. Also I feel funny trotting corners on the wrong diagonal!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2010
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    Default

    I still forget sometimes to check, but one piece of advice given to me when I was a wee one has stuck with me. I was told to check every time I hit a corner. Not necessarily check check, but think about it, so it is on my mind if something could be wrong. After I was told to check it in every corner(I was 6) I was slowly able to just remember it is important and phased out of the corner routine. When in the dressage or hunter ring I still think about my diagonal, but being able to feel it helps. Good luck!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Default

    I like nlk's suggestion.

    I have a kid (and by "kid" I mean a 20-something gal, which means I am officially OLD ) riding my small pony who was really hit or miss with her diagonals. I finally told her that she wasn't allowed to start posting until she felt which [horse] leg to rise with....so she had to sit the trot until the step she figured out the rhythm on. Once she started thinking about feeling the horse's legs at the walk and then into the trot, she stopped missing her diagonals. But she is in her 20s, so perhaps capable of being more aware???
    __________________________________
    Forever exiled in the NW.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2011
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    17

    Default habit and feel

    Quote Originally Posted by PNWjumper View Post
    I finally told her that she wasn't allowed to start posting until she felt which [horse] leg to rise with....so she had to sit the trot until the step she figured out the rhythm on. Once she started thinking about feeling the horse's legs at the walk and then into the trot, she stopped missing her diagonals.
    To me, encouraging thinking beats "punitive" methods hands down. Diagonal checking needs to become her own habit, as others have suggested--and developing her feel might really open things up for her.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 30, 2007
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    Default

    I don't start posting until I know I am on the correct diagonal. It isn't hard to feel it.



  15. #15
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    Mar. 7, 2011
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    173

    Default

    AT 7 Dd is not allowed to "check" her diagonal, as she walks she is required to feel the legs moving forward, then must pick up correct diagonal from the walk, I got so tired of seeing her look down to check we had to do away with it LOL! Now she is on the correct diagonal from the first trot step every time. Teach your student to FEEL instead of look, it worked wonders for us! It only takes my daughter about two steps into the ring to ask for the trot at this point so its not a long process once the kids are aware of how it feels when each leg moves forward.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2005
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    Chicago
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    Default

    Does this little rider LOOOOOVE her horse/pony? If she empathizes with her horse/pony, maybe tell her that it's important to be on the right diagonal for her pony's sake. Tell her being on the wrong diagonal is really uncomfortable and might even hurt her pony.

    (ok, I'm not above lying to children and guilting them into better riding)
    ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2011
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    18

    Default

    This is something that needs to be so automatic and it is really strange she is jumping and still hasn't picked it up. The yelling she can get hurt by or tune out. I would talk to her off the horse about the issue and say if it happens, the lesson is over for the day. This way she cannot continue to ride without fixing this. It will become automatic very quickly.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 24, 2003
    Location
    Tehachapi, Ca
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    Default

    Thanks for all the good suggestions. The 14'2 hand pony she has been riding so far has a reasonably short strided very smooth trot. So she hasn't really been able to "feel" the diagonal. Now that she's moving up to a 16'3 hand horse, she has remarked several times that she can really feel the difference in the diagonals in his stride. So she is checking "more" now than she was (which was almost never!)
    Yesterday at the start of the lesson, she was checking it regularly and I commented on how well she was doing with her diagonals. But as the lesson went on and she got tired, she started to forget about it.

    I like the idea of dropping your stirrups and doing a lap around the ring when you forget to check. Will give that a try!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2006
    Posts
    132

    Default

    A great way to learn to feel things is to ride with eyes closed. On the longe or with the horse in hand, if it's scary for the kid. The sudden awareness of movement you can gain that way is amazing.



  20. #20
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    May. 3, 2011
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    Zone 5
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    Default

    Once I have a student that can post and change diagonal, it's time for them to learn how to feel it. I usually have them post their trot on the long sides of the arena and sit trot on the short sides but make them feel for the diagonal *before* they begin to post. After they think they feel it, they begin to post and then they take a quick peek (eye only - no dropping the head). The goal is to eliminate the quick peek. The problem with checking the diagonal is that usually, a rider will look down with his/her entire head which throws all that weight around and messes up their body position and balance and study the horse's shoulder for several strides trying to determine if they have the correct diagonal or not. It looks terrible! It only takes a little bit of practice before most people can tell which leg is moving and a good rider should always know that anyway. I've seen far too many people in the flat (and even eq. and medal) classes either on the wrong diagonal or looking down to see which one they were on. If they simply learn to feel it, many of them would probably start to pin. It only takes a little bit of practice (but you have to actively practice it) and it will become second nature.



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