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Weight Aids

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    Weight Aids

    Hi, I just started taking dressage lessons on a schoolmaster and it is a huge, huge difference from what I'm used to. The horse only responds to things if I ask him correctly (and he is very generous with his responses when I am), so I'd eventually learn it through trial and error, but I'd like to just get some things straight (in theory) before I go back to ride him again.

    I was at a H/J barn for a few years prior to this and I learned low level dressage, but I was never really taught how to use my seat/weight aids, and I don't want to bombard my dressage trainer with 1000 beginner questions about it.

    In the first lesson she did introduce a little bit of it to me, but she was really focusing on getting me used to the horse and his movement first and loosening up my hip.

    So the question is this:

    In what instances would you shift your weight onto one leg? She had me stepping into my outside stirrup when I wanted him to move out on the circle, so I am guessing you weigh in the direction of travel.

    Is there a weight shift in the canter transition? In lateral movements without bend, or in ones that have bend? In what instances would you deepen both seatbones equally, or lighten both?

    So much of this is dependent on your trainer and how the horse is trained.

    I was taught that your horse stays under your seat but moves AWAY from each of your seatbones independently. ie. In the leg yield in trot, I sit towards the outside and think about pushing him over with my inside seatbone (and leg), and he moves away from my seatbone and stays under my seat. Same goes for establishing/keeping the bend and being in/out on a circle. The "sitting to the outside" sounds for you like stepping into your outside stirrup. I would think that this would get less obvious as you progress, and that you no longer need to feel like you step into your stirrup, but that the horse stays under your seat and between your seatbones.

    I deepen my seat to ask for more forward but also keep my leg on, if I want a downward change of gait, I sit deeper with a looser lower leg.

    There is not so much a weight shift in the canter but a changing of the position of your seatbones. I don't think about it but I know that it happens. I would have to think about it more before I had a good response.

    BUT!! You need to ask your trainer these questions! That is why you have a trainer, and if she can't answer your questions, then you should get a different trainer! I know it may feel like you're bothering her, but you're the one paying for the $60 lesson and she should be able to work with you, where you are, with your needs in consideration.


      Ask. You are learning a new skill and have an expert on hand to answer your questions. And, as blue_heron said, you are paying to learn, your trainer is paid to teach.

      Personally, I far prefer teaching a student who asks me questions because it helps us both learn and develops a mutual respect.

      Listen to your trainer, listen to your horse, keep an open mind. It is a lifetime journey and an endless fascination. Have FUN!
      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


        Original Poster

        Thank you guys!! I'll definitely ask her as we get to doing different exercises, I know what you mean on how horses are trained differently.

        She's good at explaining and I know she probably doesn't mind, it's just its things that I should probably know already, cause I've been doing lateral work and canter work and the like for years at the previous barn.


          If she normally teaches those things at the lower levels, she would naturally assume you know them. If you don't, you asking her helps her understand what to teach you! Trainers do not want to condescend as so many find it insulting, so you asking will allow her to go into depth.
          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


            Instructors know that they have to tell you something 1,000 times and is why instructors have a lot of patience.

            Patience is needed to train a horse. More patience is needed to train riders because as we all know horses are a lot smarter and learn much quicker!.

            So ask away, your instructor should be happy to answer your questions and you cannot ask a stupid question.

            As above said your instructor is starting at the beginning by asking you to step into that stirrup. That will be refined as your skill increases.
            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


              I agree that you should ask and listen! Understanding the aids and correct use of the aids is a huge piece of learning dressage and learning how to train a dressage horse.


                I think it's also really helpful to ask in person because then you can try out the visualization you have been given. You may read someone say "weight a seatbone" and your interpretation unintentionally puts you crooked. You spend the next 5 rides going around crooked thinking you are weighting a seatbone. Conversely, if you explore it in a lesson a trainer can give you instant feedback if your weight starts to shift or if another part of your body goes out of alignment.


                  OP, refer to the "Spiral Seat" thread, too. The term is not much used here in the USA, might be a translation from the German, but several replies there address the use of body position/weight to cue the horse. That might help!


                    If an instructor tells a student how and where, and why to position their legs and shoulders, the appropriate weight aids can be learned. Placing the legs correctly will put the hips in the proper position to get the desired weighting. This without clumsy instructions to weight one stirrup, which can produce some lop-sided activity.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                      Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                      If an instructor tells a student how and where, and why to position their legs and shoulders, the appropriate weight aids can be learned. Placing the legs correctly will put the hips in the proper position to get the desired weighting. This without clumsy instructions to weight one stirrup, which can produce some lop-sided activity.
                      I agree, to start with I tell them to look where they want to go, that will turn their shoulders and affect their hips without them even thinking about it.
                      It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.