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Explaining "timing"

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  • Explaining "timing"

    This is a very amorphous discussion that may be a total disaster on-line... but I have nothing to lose so here goes.

    I am trying to help an adult amature friend of mine understand the concept of "timing". The kind of timing I'm talking about is NOT the specific timing of the aids for various movements (e.g., exactly when to ask for a canter transition), but more the stride-by-stride timing wherein the horse should move from the rider's leg, to her seat, to her hands. Its the timing of this that she's having real trouble feeling, and its causing her problems with her current horse.

    She's a good rider, stable correct, position (if not refined), has some feel.... I'd say she rides like a decent 1st/2nd Level rider.

    Her horse is a long/weak backed TB. He's only at training/first level. His conformation and sensitive back makes it difficult to get him to really lift his back and work through. I've ridden him, and he's really tough to get working properly. He wants to drop his back, and take big long strides (which at this stage, he can't support). So he ends up with a loosey-goosey trot. She's been working on getting him to take shorter, more active, compact steps (so its easier for him to connect and control his back), but she struggles with getting him forward and simultaneously "short" in his stride. He wants to get faster and strung out. His working trot needs to almost be ridden like a collected trot.

    We've talked about the timing of her posting (which needs to be quicker than he wants), but I think she needs to also be faster with the timing off her leg to her seat. I can feel this (this horse just wants to suck you down into his soft, mushy back), but I'm having a hell of a time trying to explain to her what she needs to do with her body to get the timing quicker.

    Anyone want to take a stab? She understands (at least theoretically) that every stride starts at the leg, goes through the seat, into the hands, and then back again... but shes having a hard time feeling how her timing is supposed to work. In simple terms, although she is a good active rider, she's being too much of a passenger for this horse right now.

  • #2
    When she sits the trot have her think of "lifting" with her legs (so her legs are wrapped around the horses barrel and lifting himn up for more air time and less forward - collecting without using so much hand).
    Now in Kentucky

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    • #3
      How does this horse go on the longe in side reins? Can you get his back up and keep him forward? If he cannot do it then, it will be easier for him to build this strength on the longe line without the weight and interference of a less than perfect rider.

      If he can do it on the longe, then the rider (and the horse) need to learn the half halt.
      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

      Comment


      • #4
        Ok, a couple of thoughts. One it about intention of what she is creating, and one is actual timing of the aids. When one is teaching timing it must be told so that the rider can do something w/o thinking about it: ie touch with the calf/touch/touch or hh/hh/hh or give/giveetc.

        No horse wants to drops its back (or go above the bit or whatever) imho, its what we do to get in the way so that the body gets in the way. There is no reason a horse cannot take longer strides if the horse is active. If the horse is not seeking f/d/o (chewing the reins slightly) the quesiton is why. The riders job is to put the horse more into the outside rein w/o over bending (the neck) or blocking the horse (too much outside rein) and keeping it there (by allowing millimeters/cm) of seeking fdo. In that small action (or moments of quarter circles of great f/d/o) the horse learns to keep a mobile jaw, and more open throatlatch/etc and therefore the belly supports the load. But the question always is how well the hh are working. How effectively do the hh cause all the joints of the hindlegs to fold (lower the quarters) to create activity? And how well does the rider create a soft elastic stretching connection to allow a swinging back and a seeking of the hand? THEN it is clear to the viewer to say aid now (belly swinging is coordinated with use of the hindlegs) or give/give (vs take) in terms of elasticity/breathing.

        IF the horse is struggling to stay forward she is staying TOO LONG in the moments of shorter/active. She should think more of creating an according. Active/active/forward/longer (with cm (or more)) of f/d/o. That exercise (does CORRECTLY) is done through training, not just in training/first. If the horse is getting quicker, the hh are no longer working (to rebalance/open the horse) or the horse is too low or short in the neck. The horse doesnt 'want' to go out of balance, they merely seek to try to stay balanced because of what the rider is doing.

        "His working trot needs to almost be ridden like a collected trot." What does that mean? tempo/shortening the stride/developing amplitude? I dont understand that obervation.

        By changing the timing of the posting one can make longer strides or a different tempo, but ONLY if the rider allows a little f/d/or out, or uses better hh....depending upon the intentions of what is to be created AND if the balance/alignment of the seat. Remember it is usually seat, then leg, then hand (in terms of look there first, then more details).

        But is it quicker to the seat/leg OR less blocking/advasarial to the hand?

        Active riders tend to dictate/dictate/dictate. Why not let her act/act/OBSERVE the reaction(s) of the horse and THEN see what she has created. THEN make the choices of exercises/aids/figures based upon that. MOST problems of balance are either lack of proper effect of the ridersw hh (does the horse flex all the joints of the hindlegs more and lift/arc out to the hand) and/or does the rider not keep the horse f/o to the hand (without preciptious flexion (ie steadily at the vertical/too shortened))???? IF timing/balance were easy, we would all be riding GP on young horses.....
        I.D.E.A. yoda

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I haven't seen him on the lunge, but having ridden him, I think he's be "more difficult that most" to get working properly on the lunge. I think it would take someone who could really half-halt him well on the lunge, and I'm not sure I could do it.

          He CAN lift his back and go correctly, because I can get him to do it pretty routinely. But I seem to have much better luck at getting him in those short quick strides that he needs to be able to lift. On his good days, SHE can get him to do it too...

          The issue I think she's struggling with is how to produce the short quick strides. Maybe the answer is in the half-halt... perhaps she's "getting by" but really isn't doing it correctly...

          Comment


          • #6
            It is probably in the half halts, but I would also suspect something more fundamental--like pulling back on the reins instead of maintaining the contact and pushing the horse up into the bit.

            TBs love to be the motorboat and make you the waterskier. Riders need to be very steady in maintaining body position (not get tipped forward or back) and maintaining consistent rein length (not giving more rein or moving hand forward) while making very sure not to pull back. Not at all easy to get.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

            Comment


            • #7
              Why would anyone want to produce short quick strides? Quicken the hindlegs perhaps if the horse is dwelling (like too braced/low/etc), I would understand. Or more amplitude in the stride (from a clearer half halt thereby folding the hindlegs and lifting and arching the forehand and giving freedom to the shoulder). The above question makes me really think the horse is way too lowered/flat in the neck/against the hand and just pushing the load (?).
              I.D.E.A. yoda

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I know "shorter quicker strides" usually is the opposite of what we want to produce with a dressage horse... but I think they're really called for here.

                If you think about how much strength a horse requires over his back to really do a good extended pace, I think the same principle applies here. This horse doesn't have the strength (yet) to hold it all together, and so when his stride gets too long, his back falls down, and he gets disconnected. He is especially comprimised by his relatively long and weak back.

                He's very atypical (at least in my experience). He doesn't tense and get hollow like another green horse might... (despite being a TB, he's a very relaxed/lazy guy). His hollowness is more a relaxed but sagging back.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rileyt View Post
                  I know "shorter quicker strides" usually is the opposite of what we want to produce with a dressage horse... but I think they're really called for here.

                  If you think about how much strength a horse requires over his back to really do a good extended pace, I think the same principle applies here. This horse doesn't have the strength (yet) to hold it all together, and so when his stride gets too long, his back falls down, and he gets disconnected. He is especially comprimised by his relatively long and weak back.

                  He's very atypical (at least in my experience). He doesn't tense and get hollow like another green horse might... (despite being a TB, he's a very relaxed/lazy guy). His hollowness is more a relaxed but sagging back.
                  Horse sounds like he falls out behind, and is just pulling himself along by the front legs. ideayoda is right- it is the hindlegs that need to become more quick and step under. The front legs need to slow down.
                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Could you put the person on a horse with a good trot for a few lessons so she she can experience that, then go back to her horse and try to produce the same feeling? If you don't even know what you're going for, you don't usually recognize it when you get it, and you can't train the horse unless you can reward him for doing the right thing or correct him for doing the wrong thing.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rileyt View Post

                      Her horse is a long/weak backed TB. He's only at training/first level. His conformation and sensitive back makes it difficult to get him to really lift his back and work through. I've ridden him, and he's really tough to get working properly. He wants to drop his back, and take big long strides (which at this stage, he can't support). So he ends up with a loosey-goosey trot. She's been working on getting him to take shorter, more active, compact steps (so its easier for him to connect and control his back), but she struggles with getting him forward and simultaneously "short" in his stride. He wants to get faster and strung out. His working trot needs to almost be ridden like a collected trot.

                      We've talked about the timing of her posting (which needs to be quicker than he wants), but I think she needs to also be faster with the timing off her leg to her seat. I can feel this (this horse just wants to suck you down into his soft, mushy back), but I'm having a hell of a time trying to explain to her what she needs to do with her body to get the timing quicker.
                      I'll take a stab! What the others have been saying is correct. I think what you are trying to achieve is not a shorter, quicker step but a more collected and engaged step. The reason she struggles to get him forward and shorten (which I like to think of as more collected) is because she likely uses her hands to much. She must push the hind end to her hands to achieve collection rather than trying to lift and shorten with her hands. With my long backed horse I try to really emphasize the up part of the post to show her that I'm looking for up. The horse likely won't do this well or for long while he is weak. I would suggest also doing some long and low (but through) work to the the horse working over his back. You could alternate between this and a more collected stride as the transition within the gait will really help his back get stronger. The key is that the hands do very little while the legs work hard to keep the hind end active. As an adult ammie this is the part that took me the longest to get consistent. Finally now when I'm having a bad ride I just remind my self to use my legs and it always gets better.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'll approach the question of timing from the perspective of the instructor rather than the horse. We often say you can't teach feel, but you can, and you better!

                        First the rider needs to identify what the instructor is asking for. For visual learners it helps if the trainer hops on the horse and asks her to SEE what you want. This transfers to kinesthetic learners when they get back on the horse and feel the difference. Videotaping both the trainer and the rider helps some riders as well.

                        So, first I tell the student what I'm after. I might get on the horse and deliberately show the horse as lagging behind my leg and dropping his back. I might exaggerate it. Then, I will prime the rider, "I will tell you when I get the horse going right. Watch for the difference." When I get it, I'll say, "now." Then I will question her to see if she could see the difference. I have her explain it in her own words.

                        A good way to think of timing and feel is "the inspiration of the moment." Sometimes you only have a few short steps (no pun intended) to tell the rider, "that is good. That's what we want." I will milk those moments. When the rider gets back on the horse, we repeat the process, which the good horse will almost always know by now. First, I have her demonstrate the poor way of going. MY timing is KEY. I need to watch for the rider to stumble into the right direction. "You're getting there. You're getting warm. You're at about 60% through." If she's not doing it right, "you're getting cold, you haven't made a difference."

                        My timing is most important when the rider gets those first few steps of correct movement. "That's it! You got it. You're hot. That's 100%." No matter how tempted I am to try to continue the good work, I've learned this is a key time to stop and discuss. Again, I question the rider about what she felt, and to put it into her own words. If she felt it, I ask what she did that made the difference.

                        If she felt it, we go back out and go again, understanding that feel is fleeting, but always rewarding those good steps in the beginning. I have to drum in what is right until it is conditioned in the rider.

                        If she didn't feel it, it's lather, rinse, repeat. Sometimes this can take the longest. If she's not getting it at all, I have to assess my teaching. I either think of a new way to approach the topic (perhaps trotting poles in this case), or I come to the conclusion the rider is not yet of a skill level to work on what I want them to work on. I back off for a few weeks to months.

                        Feel and timing are a process. They take time, but they can be taught, as systematically as you teach a posting diagonal.
                        Kathy Johnson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Get her to verbalize -- ask her to say "Now" when the inside hind leg is in the air, at the trot and at the walk. If she can't get the timing on that, you call out "Now" for her, and then get her to try again and again. She may need to close her eyes in order to focus all her attention on what is going on under her, so she can feel the swing of the horse's rib cage. Once she gets it, she'll have such a wonderful lightbulb moment! Then you can both celebrate.
                          My Equestrian Art Photography page

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