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View Poll Results: Proper Self Carriage needed for dressage comes from?

Voters
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  • The horse's head/neck influenced by the rider with the reins

    0 0%
  • The horse's rear/back influenced by the rider with the leg

    75 89.29%
  • Something Else

    9 10.71%
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  1. #1
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    Default Eventers Only: Self Carriage Comes From Where?

    A Grand Prix dressage rider has taught me that self-carriage comes from the back/hind end as influenced by the rider's leg (leg goes on, back/hind end engages, head goes down.) An eventing clinician who is considered Very Knowledgeable told me that was wrong: that self carriage comes from the head/neck as influenced by the riders hand's via the reins (wiggle the reins, head comes down, body follows.)

    I know this is going to turn into a big fat discussion, but I honestly want to know: how many eventers believe it's reins/neck as opposed to leg/hind end?



  2. #2
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    Default

    I've always been taught to ride a horse from back to front.
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  3. #3
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    Default

    Horses can manage self-carriage all by themselves. But I doubt many people would agree that pulling on their face is the way for the rider to make it happen.

    I think I'd need to hear the entire context of the original statement to pass judgment.
    Click here before you buy.



  4. #4
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    Impulsion from the back creates the tempo. I don't understand how you can correctly ride a horse from front to back. It all starts from the rear where the engine is.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.




  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalila View Post
    I've always been taught to ride a horse from back to front.
    ^
    I am surprised a BNT told you to do so Deltawave: makes me question if their education is classical or not. I was always told (and mind you, I spent a lot of time on the back of a retired PSG horse) by my very German, very classical instructor that proper carriage is very similar to collection and collection happens naturally once all the tiers of the riding scale have been truly, properly achieved. Which would mean that no, IME self carriage isn't influenced by the reins - it something the horse takes of its own accord due to its proper training and it is influenced or "carried" by leg and seat aids.
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012



  6. #6
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    Default

    beowulf, perhaps I was not clear--I am in NO way defending any sort of "front to back" riding. I said I DOUBT MANY PEOPLE WOULD AGREE that this is correct. My question was mainly what the context of the OP's original statement was, because I have a hard time imagining anyone could defend the statement made in the OP as it stands.
    Click here before you buy.



  7. #7
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    OK, No longer an eventer, but I do remember when "round" was at any and all cost.

    As far as collection coming from the engagement of the hind end goes, I just had that discussion with a student who has experienced it, on her horse. And the "round" just happened.

    It's what makes teaching so much fun!!!
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    beowulf, perhaps I was not clear--I am in NO way defending any sort of "front to back" riding. I said I DOUBT MANY PEOPLE WOULD AGREE that this is correct. My question was mainly what the context of the OP's original statement was, because I have a hard time imagining anyone could defend the statement made in the OP as it stands.
    Oh, I was just stating my experience. I didn't think you were defending the front to back thing! Sorry if it came off that way.


    EDIT: I meant to say Desert Topaz, not Deltawave.. as it was in regards to the OP. Ooopsie.
    Last edited by beowulf; Feb. 10, 2013 at 05:23 PM.
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012



  9. #9
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    Default

    Self-carriage comes from hard work.



    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Okay, here's what happened. I was riding my pony, who struggled with dressage. She spent the entire winter in Pony Boot Camp with our excellent dressage rider/trainer. She could get a halfway decent ride out of her but it took every bit of skill she had. I, alas, did not have such skills and our rides were... pathetic. Good thing Pony was an excellent jumper.

    So, there I am with my pony in our flat ride with Clinician. Pony was being, as ever, difficult and going around like a giraffe. He asked me why I kept using my legs. I said, "because I'm trying to get her to use her back end and drop her head." He responded (this isn't word for word,) "That's wrong. You influence the head with your hands and reins and then the rest of the body follows."

    I just couldn't believe he said that, believed it, and implied in his tone that those who thought otherwise were just wrong. I just tried to get through the rest of the clinic without pissing my pony off too much. I got her as a green green greenie and the trainer who helped me with her followed that philosophy too. Pony hated it and it hurt my hands and I figured out pretty quick there had to be another way and found our current trainer and we both learned about real dressage.

    Pony is now retired, so the problem with her is moot. But there are people out there teaching the front to back way of riding, that honestly believe that's the way it works. I'm interested to know how prevalent this philosophy is in the eventing world because I didn't know there was another way until I went to a pure dressage person. Mind you, I live in a very rural area so we don't have a lot of trainer options.



  11. #11
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    I'm getting the answer to my question. Thanks to everyone answering the poll. Seems I live in a weird place where the only eventer/trainer in the country that thinks you ride front to back lives and the only clinician that thinks so comes.




  12. #12
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    I am in the camp of back to front; was taught that from the beginning of my riding life with a mare who knew, but loved to teach me my adis by ingoring my woefully inadequate aids.

    I will pose this thought, I firmly believe in the engagement of the hind, but without establishing the front wall with both core and yes, reins, do we not just wind up with a flat, "forward", running horse? The letter if the poll is clear that first we go back to front, but is it just as important to use something to define the box so the horse begins to understand that leg is not just go, but go in frame?

    From my experience with Sterling after some amazing dressage lessons I got to the point where when I ask for his back with my leg, core, and seat i get a good frame to start with; reins are there just to help remind him of the box.

    This is a great poll and I really look forward to more discussion.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    From your later post, it appears there are two DIFFERENT issues involved.

    "Self carriage", engaging the hind legs, lowering the haunches, etc., comes from the horse's hindquarters and back, activatied by the rider's leg and seat.

    But in order for this to work, the rider must have a good connection with the horse's mouth. The horse must "accept the bit".

    If the horse is going like a giraffe, braced in the poll, or, conversely, curled behind the bit, all the leg and seat in the world isn't going to produce self carriage. The horse needs to accept the bit first.

    "Using your legs" (without your hands and reins) isn't going to get the horse to "drop its head".

    "Dropping its head", and accepting the bit, is a prerequisite for "self carriage", but it isn't the same thing.

    Now, I will say that "using your hands and reins" IN CONJUNCTION with your seat and legs should NOT "hurt your hands". So the clinician either wasn't using a good techique, or was not explaining him/heself
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


    9 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janet View Post
    From your later post, it appears there are two DIFFERENT issues involved.

    "Self carriage", engaging the hind legs, lowering the haunches, etc., comes from the horse's hindquarters and back, activatied by the rider's leg and seat.

    But in order for this to work, the rider must have a good connection with the horse's mouth. The horse must "accept the bit".

    If the horse is going like a giraffe, braced in the poll, or, conversely, curled behind the bit, all the leg and seat in the world isn't going to produce self carriage. The horse needs to accept the bit first.

    "Using your legs" (without your hands and reins) isn't going to get the horse to "drop its head".

    "Dropping its head", and accepting the bit, is a prerequisite for "self carriage", but it isn't the same thing.

    Now, I will say that "using your hands and reins" IN CONJUNCTION with your seat and legs should NOT "hurt your hands". So the clinician either wasn't using a good techique, or was not explaining him/heself
    What Janet said

    And it's substantially more complicated that "riding back to front" vs "riding front to back", since the journey to attaining self-carriage (under saddle) is a process. The horse must first become supple enough and strong enough to engage and use its core, while stepping *into* and maintaining the rein connection--which should then become less heavy as the horse progresses through training and becomes more able to shift his weight onto his HQ, step under his "mass", and balance OFF the rider's hands. (though horses of all levels will and do lose their balance, hence the necessity for halt-halts ),
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


    1 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Janet,

    I have nerve issues in my neck that makes things, particularly my hands, hurt. They had me constantly moving my hands, from the wrist. This irritated my hand problems considerably. I can squeeze and do half halts, but constant wrist movement? No. I was thinking I was going to have to stop riding because of it, then I did some research and changed trainers. Haven't had problems with them riding since.

    I've seen this clinician advise the hand movement with horses that are perfectly accepting of the bit. Obviously my pony was not one of them. In fact, I believe that way is part of what ruined her for accepting the bit. These horses go around hollow with no engagement, but since their heads are where they're "supposed" to be they think they've got it right.



  16. #16
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    I agree there should not be any wrist movement. It should all be with the fingers, or with the elbows/shoulders.

    And it is quite likely that your clinicial was barking up the wrong tree. But it isn't a simple as your original presentation. ALL the aids are important.


    BTW, both Dr Dolittle and I have horses that could do a VERY GOOD giraffe impersonation on the wrong day.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JP60 View Post
    I will pose this thought, I firmly believe in the engagement of the hind, but without establishing the front wall with both core and yes, reins, do we not just wind up with a flat, "forward", running horse? The letter if the poll is clear that first we go back to front, but is it just as important to use something to define the box so the horse begins to understand that leg is not just go, but go in frame?

    From my experience with Sterling after some amazing dressage lessons I got to the point where when I ask for his back with my leg, core, and seat i get a good frame to start with; reins are there just to help remind him of the box.
    The horses I'm riding now are trained dressage horses. I can get them carrying themselves properly with a squeeze of the leg. For them, leg means step under yourself, not go faster (which as an eventer is a bit annoying.) So, I can ride them around, on the buckle, long and low and carrying themselves and they aren't flat or running. (I can't wait to ride Training Level dressage this year. We're going to kick ass on the stretchy trot circle.) Now, with them, I use the reins to "put them in the box" (I like that visual) and they bring their heads up and trot around like the well trained beasts they are (I so don't do them justice.)



  18. #18
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    Lightbulb

    It is absolutely correct that the rider's hand must be educated enough to softly accept the connection offered by the engaged horse. The hand's job is to support the flexion of the head and neck, and only when necessary support half halts and transitions.

    The rider must, though, understand that the simple exercise of riding a circle is actually a gymnastic exercise designed to encourage the the horse to slightly engage the inside hind leg. The difficulty of the exercise increases as the circle size decreases. It is from the correctly ridden circle that the rider can proceed to the rest of the exercise that increase a horse's ability to engage. S/I, renvers and travers.

    So, simply using legs alone will seldom get a rider the quality of self carriage they desire. They must use their brains, and learn and understand the use of those exercises that are not a goal in and of themselves.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Topaz View Post

    So, there I am with my pony in our flat ride with Clinician. Pony was being, as ever, difficult and going around like a giraffe. He asked me why I kept using my legs. I said, "because I'm trying to get her to use her back end and drop her head." He responded (this isn't word for word,) "That's wrong. You influence the head with your hands and reins and then the rest of the body follows."
    I think he was just not vocalizing himself well. I think he was talking about "feel".

    yes, we ride our horses from the ass up but if you don't have a good connection up front then there is nothing to ride up into.
    So if you think about it that way...then one might say you ride front to back.
    I would say that I ride front to back.
    But I have exceptional feel. So if I'm on a horse who starts out with their head way up in the air I supple up front and then boot um up into it to get it all going properly.
    If you're on a horse who is stiff and going around with its head up in the air no amount of kicking is going to bring it all together. You have to add feel.
    I don't know why everyone tip-toes around it so much.

    It's like with lunging. Guess what?! We put the side reins on and then add the impulsion. Can't do it the other way! lol. So when we lunge, guess what!? The horse is moving into it's form from front to back.

    I think it's just gray. People always visualize someone sawing their horse's mouth off when we use the phrase "riding front to back". It's just a bad use of phrase for that clinician to use.

    Hence the reason why some BNRs are GREAT clinicians, and others are not. Just because you ride awesome doesn't mean you have the special little things needed to make you a great teacher. : )

    I think anyone who is 1/2 way successful understands the training scale and using the seat aids to influence the horse's butt which then makes the frame.
    I bet this clinician is no different.
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  20. #20
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    In an ideal world: The power comes from the hind end stepping up under the body and the hindquarters lowering which in turn lifts the back and the shoulders so the horse is travelling uphill. The horse than reaches for the contact and the energy is recycled and the process starts again.

    Of course, this does not always happen You can get a fake frame by using only your hands, but you will never achieve self-carraige that way. Its taken me every minute of the three years I've owned my horse, but I can ride him completely tackless with just a neck strap for steering and he can be in self-carriage. Its a matter of manipulating their bodies through bending, half-halts, transitions, etc. to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

    Contact obviously still plays an important role, especially when a horse and/or rider is just beginning to develop the basics of self-carriage. There always needs to be a place for that energy from the hind end to go. You want the horse to reach forward into the contact and accept the bit. Even when I'm riding my horse tackless there is always a sense of an "invisible contact" if that makes any sense at all. (I probably sound like a crazy person right about now... )

    Its interesting to me that this trainer was actually actively instructing you to ride front to back. I've seen trainers say "give the bit a wiggle/rattle" to encourage the flexing of the poll, but even then they are not actually telling their students that they shouldn't be trying to get the horse to engage the hind end and lift the back. I think you did the right thing finding a new trainer!

    Very interesting discussion, I love hearing everybody's opinions on this kind of stuff.
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