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Curious about whether Heather Blitz & Joan Bolton have a different "style" of riding?

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  • Curious about whether Heather Blitz & Joan Bolton have a different "style" of riding?

    I'm curious and would be interested in input from those who can contribute to my better understanding.

    I have always been taught and always observed good upper level dressage riders sitting very tall in the saddle with a long draping leg and a seat that sits deep in the saddle.

    In my area, I am seeing more and more people who train with Heather Blitz and Joanie Bolton and it seems to me that these riders tend to sit more forward and "on their knees" in the saddle with legs drawn far back. To me, it's not pretty at all.

    What am I missing? I know both Blitz and Bolton are proponents of rider biomechanics, but this just looks wrong to me.

    I have not seen either Blitz or Bolton ride, so do THEY ride like this? Or is this some misunderstanding by their students on rider position?

    And if this IS what they teach, can anyone explain to me how this funny looking position is better than the classic position I was taught?

  • #2
    Hmmmm... I wonder if you're in my area because Joan Bolton and Heather Blitz have been coming quite often to give clinics at a local farm. They seem to be the "flavor of the month" in some riding circles.

    I have never ridden with these ladies and have no opinion about their riding or their style. I have a few friends, however, who have and I think they found the lessons valuable but some of the concepts are difficult to understand at times and even harder to apply when unobserved. Personally, the price of the clinics in my area are atrocious, so I am not willing to give them a try at $350 for two 45 minute lessons.

    I am interested to read what other people have to say.
    Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's a video of Heather Blitz riding, got this link from her website.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNTKP...eature=related

      Couldn't find any videos of Joan Bolton riding.

      Comment


      • #4
        Very useful lesson

        I took a lesson from Heather this past summer for $200. It was worth the money. She corrected my position. I had thought that I was over my center of balance (like when you walk, you don't lean back).. but after riding so many young, downhill horses who would suddenly stop and spin, I had begun to lean back. Actually, I am more snug now and even on the remaining spinners I have a more secure seat!

        What "her" style is doing is getting you in balance, not the chair seat. The rider's legs aren't put back, unless just under the body. She had me tighten my stomach so I didn't wobble so much in the waist.

        I had a Mary Wanless lesson 15 years ago and she had taught the same theory. But in 15 years I had regressed. I hadn't liked my recent videos and then after the Heather "fix" ahhh, I like the way I look on and with the horse.

        It is most definitely worth the price if you can retain the lesson, and use it.

        As far is her getting the rider to get more on their knees and legs back, well.. it just feels very odd at first. It indeed did feel that I was in a 2 point position and ready for a jump. Then when I saw myself in the mirror it wasn't at all what I was feeling. I HAD been loose and sitting back. How many lessons I'd had with the instructor saying to sit back. No, it puts you behind the motion.


        Just one lesson greatly improved my riding! It keeps you with the timing of the horse, instead of late and trying to catch up. Or a floppy piece of baggage. If you don't want to take 2 lessons for $350... take 1 and that may do the trick for you!!! It worked for me. If you watch and see what she is doing to others you will understand what she is doing to you. I watched before my lesson and understood that it wasn't Greek.
        Last edited by Tangerine Farmer; Apr. 30, 2010, 02:52 PM. Reason: forgot to add

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is a photo I snuck that shows the position I am seeing over and over from those riding with Blitz and Bolton regularly. I have done my best to disquise the rider as it is not my intention to insult the rider, just to learn if this is actually correct riding.

          http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/...r/disquise.jpg

          Comment


          • #6
            I wont lie, lol, that looks like me when Im working on a hard movement that is EXACTLY how I sit if I am left on my own lol


            My trainer wants me to open up a bit and sit straighter so I would say that it is not correct, but you CAN be active as a rider this way in your legs but not your seat, and althout its better that than a pole straight up and down JAMMING into their back with your seat bones.

            You have to sit straight AND be soft, very hard to do!

            She probably thinks their seat is stopping the horses back and instead of taking a step backwards they are allowed to hunch and lean to get off the back?

            JMO
            ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
            http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              On another note, the video given was a nice example of a soft straight seat IMO
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
              http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                I ride occasionally with Joan, and more frequently over the last 6 months with another student of Heather's. After years of working with a teacher who wasn't really that bothered about my position, it has been a breath of fresh air and I think I'm riding more effectively for it.

                The whole rider biomechanics thing is quite interesting and quite effective. If you get it right. And kinda scarey if you don't.

                You should still be seeing a perfect shoulder/hip/heel alignment, btw. You should still have the feeling that if the horse disappeared out from under you you'd land in balance on your feet.

                But, the front of the torso, depending on how extreme your teacher is, should either be the same length as the back of your torso, or some would say shorter than the back of your torso. You should be filling out the back of your belt, rather than hollowing your lower back and leaning back, which is what a lot of people do when they think they are sitting up straight--I was, and I've got years of videos to prove it!.

                They also believe in keeping the lower leg off the horse unless you are actually going to use it. This is hardly a new concept. You achieve it the old fashioned way by opening your hips and rolling your thighs inward, not by pinching with your knees and sticking your lower leg out.

                This doesn't mean your round your shoulders and do the lean forward, slump and kneel thing, which is neither attractive nor effective.

                It's really all about the core and muscle differentiation, influence and control. If you've ever done any Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais work, this all comes fairly naturally.

                And yes, I'd totally agree that there are a lot of people riding rather oddly in a sort of half-assed version of what they are trying to teach.
                Overall, I would say I'm finding some useful new tools for my box in all of this. And my body, (now it's got over the initial pain of opening my hips more,) is happier than it has been riding in some time.
                Last edited by atr; Apr. 30, 2010, 05:14 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  schooling videos

                  "Africa"
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGcvG...eature=channel

                  "WeltwindMarch"
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQWa4...eature=channel

                  "Voodoo"
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lkVA...eature=channel

                  "DonaLinda"
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pU6t...eature=channel

                  and then in competition at PSG
                  "Wanderlust"
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ODl...eature=channel
                  Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                  The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AlterMeNow View Post
                    Here is a photo I snuck that shows the position I am seeing over and over from those riding with Blitz and Bolton regularly. I have done my best to disquise the rider as it is not my intention to insult the rider, just to learn if this is actually correct riding.

                    http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/...r/disquise.jpg
                    from what we can see it looks to be a lovely horse
                    Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                    The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I also ride with Joan and she fixed a postion problem of mine (fwd shoulders) in 1 ride! I heard all my life to get my sholders back..over and over. I would put them back, and in 3 strides they were fwd again! Very frustrating! I thought it was from my jumping history but who knows. She isolated the problem as I had been sitting on the front edge of my seatbone, and when I changed that to the back edge-blam-no more shoulder problem! I have taken my lessons and clinics, but she was so clear and accurate and I got results that I can reproduce at home on my own!

                      As to address the look of the shorter stirrup, yes this is a Wanless thing, and it is about being more dynamic in your position, instead of stretching your leg down so far that you limit the use of it. Go on You tube and search for Heather Blitz to see how she rides. It looks strong and elegant to me! I recently was a demo rider for the L program, and the judge teaching the other judges talked at length about how riding with a too long stirrup robs most riders' effectiveness, and prefered the look of what I feel Joanie has taught me. My horse was very tense in the indoor with the judges panel of 15+ but she commented that I looked organized and efficient even with the tightness and gave me a 7 on position. Without the tightness which shortened his neck maybe an 8. I feel that is a great acheivement for somebody who always looked like they were looking for a fence to jump!

                      I would encourage anyone who wants to see what the program is like to go an audit. It is too hard to look at any given rider who may be working with a trainer or system, and base that system on what that particular rider looks like. They may have lots of bad habits they are trying to overcome, etc.

                      I also think of all the clinicians I have ridden with over the years, every single thing Joanie has taught me I can reproduce at home. So, the next time she is in town we check in that those things are good, and I get to learn something else! It seems like many clinicians can ride through you in your lesson, but then when you try to mimic your lesson it just doesn't happen.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GreekDressageQueen View Post
                        Blitz have been coming quite often to give clinics at a local farm. They seem to be the "flavor of the month" in some riding circles.

                        I am interested to read what other people have to say.
                        Heather Blitz has given clinics in the Houston and east texas area for many many years, since she used to live not far from there. She has a solid and loyal clientele there.

                        She does teach a seat that is slightly forward and to put weight in the knees but she does not advocate riding with the heels up like the posted picture shows. At all. However, if that is where this rider is *at* then this is where the rider is at. Clinics can't make you into a star - they improve your baseline. (IMO) She teaches riders to sit more towards their crotch in a specific way as a transition to learning how to use their bodies in a way that is heather's method of riding. She has a distinct method - pretty much like most top riders have developed over years. Her own riding is superlative and she looks as if she's doing nothing in the saddle.

                        OP - I'm sure that Heather is happy to explain her method. I'd really suggest that you either shoot her an email or audit one of her clinics so you have the chance to ask her questions in person. i think that'll be the most fruitful way to understand her method.
                        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Love it. Best thing to happen to riding in years, teaching people how to be effective rather than repeating the same old mantras...
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have to say the videos of Heather Blitz riding are QUITE nice!!! I'm sure the student is working towards looking like that, but I'm sure there are bumps along the road. I think when we learn something new we tend to exaggerate until we find our new balance.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Heather is a devotee of Mary Wanless and you can see a lot of pictures of her in Mary's recent book.

                              Her books are quite useful, however I do not think her riding clinics are good for the anxious horse or rider.
                              I wasn't always a Smurf
                              Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                              "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                              The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                http://www.yardandgroom.com/jobs/uni...nd-rider/15357
                                Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                                The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have been taking lessons at a barn that has had clinics with Heather and Mary Wanless. Yes, they do teach you to point your knees down, twist your thighs in, and keep your foot/heel back under your hip and light in the stirrup. Sometimes it takes making the student into a contortion that looks very awkward and is quite difficult to keep, and may look "wrong" at first. But eventually your muscles stretch and strengthen, and it gets easier and easier and does start to look more natural and relaxed, and "correct". Sometimes riders hips are so tight in getting their legs down and back where they should be it does tip the torso forward, but once the leg is there, you can start working on opening the hips and bringing the torso straight in line.

                                  I can speak from personal experience that it's HARD and AWKWARD at first, but riding like this is something the GOOD riders take for granted and don't even realize they are doing it. And their muscling is there so it's not such a hard effort. For us that have bad habits to correct, it's going to look ugly and be hard at first, but I can tell you that looking at videos of me before I started the biomechanics, and now, even the small changes I have made have made HUGE improvements in the way my horse goes, and how effective I am in the saddle. I'm a huge fan!!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by WBLover View Post

                                    I can speak from personal experience that it's HARD and AWKWARD at first, but riding like this is something the GOOD riders take for granted and don't even realize they are doing it. And their muscling is there so it's not such a hard effort. For us that have bad habits to correct, it's going to look ugly
                                    Do NOT try this on a horse who becomes anxious and frustrated while you are learning, especially if you become anxious frustrated and stiff.

                                    It can get very ugly.

                                    FAST
                                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                                    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      heather blitz is a lovely rider and a very good instructor. I've audited her clinics in the past. I think her teaching style is a little different, but mostly because most instructors dont spend the kind of time fine tuning very TINY things about your seat that make such a big difference. And yes, finding that position can be tough and a long, bumpy road. So you may be seeing people who are not at that point yet, or misunderstanding, or just trying to figure it all out.

                                      I highly recommend her.
                                      Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                                      www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by carolprudm View Post
                                        Do NOT try this on a horse who becomes anxious and frustrated while you are learning, especially if you become anxious frustrated and stiff.

                                        It can get very ugly.

                                        FAST
                                        Cant this be said for any person learning how to ride on an anxious horse? I dont care who your instructor is. I much prefer the very kind and forgiving types who put up with me.
                                        Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                                        www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

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