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  1. #1
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    Default Spinoff - Wanless.. look to the outside in circles

    While we already have an active wanless thread going about her "boards on" framework, I thought I'd ask about her assertion that one should not turn the shoulders to the inside of the circle and look to the inside, but should look to the outside of the circle by keeping the shoulders straight.

    As Wanless has evolved her "boards on" framework, I wonder if originally, she was asking the rider to put the "boards on" on the inside, and without putting the "boards on" on the outside, this automatically turned the body to the outside. Then, rather than cause the body to get all twisted by trying to turn the upper body to the inside with only one board on, this turned into "look to the outside"

    Looking to the inside (or at least at the inside ear of the horse) is such a fundamental part of classical dressage, I have a very difficult time just throwing that away.
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x



  2. #2
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    Could she be saying that the rider's shoulders should be square to the horses' shoulders?

    Rider's shoulders should always match the horse' shoulders, not swerve inward, and while rider's shoulder remains straight/square (to the horse), even though there is consistent bend throughout the course of circle, any given point is a straight line "outside" of the circle you are traveling toward(tangent). Not sure exactly what she said but that is what comes to my mind.



  3. #3
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    As I recall, in at least one book, the rider's shoulders are described as being the radius of the circle.
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x



  4. #4
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    OK. If the horse is truly straight along the circle line, and the rider's shoulders match perfectly to the horse' shoulders, then, across the breath of the rider's shoulders will form a straight line connecting the radius toward the center of the circle, and that also means, the rider's center (eyes/nose/chin/throat/breastplate/etc) at any given moment has a straight line "outside" of the circle, following the tangent line. I think of it as "tangent line -> bend -> tangent line -> bend -> ....

    I know this can be a bit confusing, but if you think of circle as infinite number of tiny straight lines before a tiny bend, you should see that that straight line before the tiny bend is always outside of the circle.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
    OK. If the horse is truly straight along the circle line, and the rider's shoulders match perfectly to the horse' shoulders, then, across the breath of the rider's shoulders will form a straight line connecting the radius toward the center of the circle, and that also means, the rider's center (eyes/nose/chin/throat/breastplate/etc) at any given moment has a straight line "outside" of the circle, following the tangent line. I think of it as "tangent line -> bend -> tangent line -> bend -> ....

    I know this can be a bit confusing, but if you think of circle as infinite number of tiny straight lines before a tiny bend, you should see that that straight line before the tiny bend is always outside of the circle.
    Are you an engineer or physicist by any chance?

    Best explanation I've seen... but I'm picturing free body diagrams and things which make me think it may not make as much sense to everyone.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  6. #6
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    It makes perfect sense and is how I understood it when I read her books. However, I've had some trainers (weg riders no less) insist that I turn my whole body to the inside and "look where you are going". I prefer to ride like Wanless says, but then I have to be able to ride with local trainers, and "looking to the outside" seems to be an issue.

    edited to add: this isn't really so much a question as a complaint. Unless the question is 'how do I pretend to do what they want, while still looking to the outside" :-)
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x



  7. #7
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    It is a coordination issue that looking slightly to the outside of the circle can help. Because of centrifugal force, most riders wind up with their seat sliding to the outside of the saddle on a circle, especially in a small one. If you face in, you are more likely to wind up even further to the outside while if you face slightly out, you are more likely to stay centered in the saddle. Everyone seems to have a direction they struggle with more, and most horses will slide you more one direction than another.
    A really coordinated rider can look in without sliding out, but for most it helps to do the opposite. Watch from behind any rider go through a corner or during a smaller circle. The rare ones that stay to the inside will have a horse that steps through much better with the inside hind because the rider is not throwing it off balance. Kind of like a heavy backpack on your outside shoulder while spinning in a circle...
    Does that help?



  8. #8
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    The spine of the horse should be parallel to the track of the movement. Curved track equals a curved spine. The rider's spine, being upright, should twist slightly at the waist, more or less, so that the shoulders are parallel to the horse's shoulders and the rider's hips parallel o the horse's hips. That includes a thousand radiuses and their respective tangents, as the horse and rider travel the circle.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    Are you an engineer or physicist by any chance?

    Best explanation I've seen... but I'm picturing free body diagrams and things which make me think it may not make as much sense to everyone.
    lol. Computer Engineering degree for undergraduate with an overdeveloped left brain and a pendent for Physics. Physics fascinates me and I would have loved to pursue that branch of science if possible; but of course that was before I realized Physics are for people way smarter than me (to make a career out of it), so I got a job developing software instead.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacie View Post
    While we already have an active wanless thread going about her "boards on" framework, I thought I'd ask about her assertion that one should not turn the shoulders to the inside of the circle and look to the inside, but should look to the outside of the circle by keeping the shoulders straight.
    Okee Dokee. I'll give a shot at providing a RWYM answer. I tried to find some photos on the internet to help. They are not ideal, but I think they show the foot, arm, and torso positioning well enough.

    1)The riders shoulders are not so much the issue. It is not the riders shoulders that turn the horse.

    The rider's body has to follow the same patterns as an ice skater or a fencer.

    To track Left. (It ain't that easy to find an image of a left handed fencer!)
    http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...AfbnYNrvkrbkuP
    Imagine you are fencing. Take the rapier in your left hand. Lunge forward with your left leg, thrusting your left hand and rapier forward as you lunge. Hold this position.

    This would be analogous to left seat bone (slightly) forward, left hand slightly forward, right seat bone back, right arm back, torso faces to the right. (Thus, as a rider, if you're neck were to continue to face where the torso faces, you would be looking to the outside of the circle.)

    Tracking Right.
    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...MzANclKx9gGeag

    Rapier in right hand. Right leg lunges forward. Right hand lunges forward. Riders right seat bone is now slightly advanced, left seat bone slightly back. If the rider's neck were to stay facing the same direction as the torso, rider would be looking to the outside.

    To imagine the same thing ice skating, start standing. Step your left foot forward and stand on it while you imagine pushing off with your right foot, which will then stay in the air. Left arm forward, right arm back, you are looking to the right, but by pushing off with your right leg, you have directed your turn to the left.

    If you do the opposite, step right foot forward, right arm forward, push off with the left, you would arrive with the right side of your body advanced, your torso facing outwards of the circle, and your circle turning to the right.

    If an instructor is telling you to look to the outside (RWYM method) they are likely trying to over emphasize the positioning. To prevent the rider from collapsing the inside of their torso (should be like a box, no collapsing one side when you circle.)

    At the risk of confusing the issue, I will add the following. When you advance your inside seat bone, and bring the outside seat bone back, both seat bones will now be closer to the horse's spine. This is one way that you can get your seat closer to the center of the horse when the horse is collapsed on one side and bulged out onto the other. Also known as "banana shaped."



  11. #11
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    Posted by Isabeau Z Solace:

    At the risk of confusing the issue,
    I don't think you at risk of confusing the issue, I think you revel in it.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaroquePony View Post
    The spine of the horse should be parallel to the track of the movement. Curved track equals a curved spine. The rider's spine, being upright, should twist slightly at the waist, more or less, so that the shoulders are parallel to the horse's shoulders and the rider's hips parallel o the horse's hips. That includes a thousand radiuses and their respective tangents, as the horse and rider travel the circle.
    I will disagree on the horse's spine having much of a 'curve.' The illusion of the bend is created primarily by the displacement of the ribcage to the right or left, and possible by the flexing of the hips. There is disagreement among experts about how much motion a horse's spine is capable of left/right. But most of the 'bend' that dressage riders are seeing and creating is displacement of the ribcage, not lateral curving of the spine.

    I think it is easy to find supporters of either opinion. And that may be largely due to the individual differences in horses.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
    But most of the 'bend' that dressage riders are seeing and creating is displacement of the ribcage, not lateral curving of the spine.
    I've always wondered about the term "rib displacement". Considering the ribs are fixed to the sternum and spine, and are not free to move about on their own, how are they "displaced"?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by alicen View Post
    I've always wondered about the term "rib displacement". Considering the ribs are fixed to the sternum and spine, and are not free to move about on their own, how are they "displaced"?
    Best analogy I can think is to stand bent over, at a 90degree angle. Hold your arms beneath you like you were holding a big barrel between them. Now swing that barrel to the right (your right shoulder comes up, left goes down), to the left(left shoulder up, right shoulder down.)



  15. #15
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    For me personally, the Mary stuff is way too much overthinking and overdoing. But that's just me personally. I do much better when I just think "do this" and then I just do it without analyzing the million mini-steps to get there. I also would have a hard time describing what I was doing.

    FWIW, I did read most of her books, watch a lot of her first video series, and rode with her twice in clinics - Isabeau, I think you were actually there (at Saddlebrook). I have a friend who was very into her and I did find value in it, but overall, I don't have to think or work or try sooooo hard about every little thing. But, I really do think Mary's work is awesome in that she has a lot of very real analogies to put abstract feelings into words (although I'm not sure that every analogy is how I would describe certain "it" feelings). I would find it interesting to ride with her again, now many years later.

    I like the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" that was actually recommended by a different trainer. More my style.

    Anyhow, the reason I'm posting is to say about circles - - what it really boils down to is that at any time, you should feel like you could ride a straight line out of the circle.

    At any stride you should feel like you could either continue circling, or ride a straight line. Similar to the tangent line idea. Your body or your horse's body should never be so committed to any one movement, bend, tempo, whatever, that you could not change it within one stride. That is the kind of responsiveness and straightness that you are looking for.



  16. #16
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    Also, I do feel that Mary's theories and training is great for riding instructors to learn. It is great to have instructors have a better understanding of how the position of many different riders could affect a horse and develop an eye to pick that out quickly.

    I'd be curious, mostly, to ride with Mary to have her pick out my position weaknesses. Because I'm sure she could quickly identify a habit or two unknown to me that is adversely affecting my riding.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
    Best analogy I can think is to stand bent over, at a 90degree angle. Hold your arms beneath you like you were holding a big barrel between them. Now swing that barrel to the right (your right shoulder comes up, left goes down), to the left(left shoulder up, right shoulder down.)
    A huh, but ribs don't have movable joints like shoulders.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly in NJ View Post

    I like the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" that was actually recommended by a different trainer. More my style.

    Anyhow, the reason I'm posting is to say about circles - - what it really boils down to is that at any time, you should feel like you could ride a straight line out of the circle.

    At any stride you should feel like you could either continue circling, or ride a straight line. Similar to the tangent line idea. Your body or your horse's body should never be so committed to any one movement, bend, tempo, whatever, that you could not change it within one stride. That is the kind of responsiveness and straightness that you are looking for.
    Yes I did go to the clinics at Saddlebrook a couple of times. Then we had Mary to 'my' farm for several years. Now I work with Lisa May, who is one of Mary's certified coaches. She is also Mary's age, and has made her own study of bodywork (Feldenkrais, I think?) and is very wise in her own right. We've given up on having Mary here for clinics right now. We can never fill them! But if we could get the people, we'd be very happy to do it again.

    As for the part I have bolded above, it is not procedural knowledge. It does not tell one how to proceed. It's rather like saying "when you are flying, you should feel like you are going to say up in the air and not fall." Which is true, but it does not tell me how to get from the ground up into the air, or how to make all the little corrections and adjustments that will help me stay up there. Or how to compensate for the fact that I lack wings.....

    Flying is surely not complicated when you are a bird. But for humans, developing flight was quite the trick. And still, it requires extensive detailed training to do it well.

    For many of us riding is as difficult as flying. We require knowledge just as detailed as if we were learning to fly.

    If someone is naturally more able to produce the mechanics of good riding, it might very well seem as simple a flying is to a bird. "Well you just jump off the tree branch, flap your wings, and don't fall." But for those of us that are less 'bird like,' it ain't that easy.

    I am an avid reader, so I will add The Inner Game of Tennis to my list. Always interested in a good book. Especially one that grows my brain.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly in NJ View Post
    Also, I do feel that Mary's theories and training is great for riding instructors to learn. It is great to have instructors have a better understanding of how the position of many different riders could affect a horse and develop an eye to pick that out quickly.

    I'd be curious, mostly, to ride with Mary to have her pick out my position weaknesses. Because I'm sure she could quickly identify a habit or two unknown to me that is adversely affecting my riding.
    Are you still in NJ? I can give you Lisa May's email and you could try to get a lesson with her when she is in the area. Lisa is a sweet heart, and I can't imagine anyone not liking her.



  20. #20
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    The torso of an animal should be equally balanced around that animal's center of gravity. I say "should" because most of us favor one side more than the other...our horses as well. An animal has what we call an axis of orientation, and that axis is based on how the center of gravity is carried...over two legs, or four. A human has a vertical axis, and a horse has a horizontal axis. The displacement of the body parts that surround this axis is what creates the energy of biomechanical motion.

    The diagonals of the body, from shoulder point on one side to seatbone on the diagonal side are the lines that are moved within the rotation. Those diagonals, whose change is created by the interaction between muscles and boney knobs, need to keep all the forces that surround the center equal in relationship to that primary axis in order to keep the primary axis of balance from falling. One diagonal holds the primary axis stable, while the other diagonal pair moves a part of the body forward. Then, the diagonals reverse function for the next step.

    The steps are created by weight being taken more on one side than the other, the joints bend to collect the weight, and then extend to release the force created, with energy and weight being deflected to the other side so that it can do its thing in turn. Extra weight on one side is created by more of the body mass moved to that side, or in other words, the torso rotates first one direction and then the other. With the rider, the extra mass is take on one side as a shoulder moves back over the hip of the same side. The mass becomes less as the shoulder is taken forward and is no longer adding as much weight to that side.

    Now let's talk about the crookedness issue when we ride. Forget the crookedness in the horse for the moment, which also plays a part. Most riders do not bend enough, i.e. take their left shoulder back far enough and thereby do not add enough weight to their left seatbone. Not all riders, but most. What this means is that as the rider is riding a counterclockwise circle, the rider's upper body has not rotated enough to the inside of the circle, so there is not the correct amount of weight on the rider's left seatbone. As a rule, this is also accompanied by a dropped shoulder on the left, and a left hand that wants to rotate inward. (left elbow also comes farther away from the body.) On the clockwise circle, this same thing is still happening, and generally to worse effect, because the left rein is not stablized to the correct degree, and there is not enough weight in the left stirrup.

    A crooked horse makes all of this worse.

    Now the rider's head is very heavy, and can be used to help add weight to one side or the other to help counteract the crookedness of the rider, herself, coupled with the crookedness of the horse. With the counterclockwise circle, there is not enough weight on the inside, so if the rider looks to the inside, more weight can be added to help. Most riders should never be looking to the outside of the circle when traveling this direction. However, because we need more weight on the left side for a crooked rider, and that weight is more critical when traveling clockwise, the rider can turn the head to the outside a bit, to help in getting more weight on that left side.

    If horse and rider are fairly straight, the rider needs always look in line with the diagonal that carries the motion, or in other words, look the direction of the motion. I hope that adds some clarity for you.



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