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Transition from Galloping Position to Balancing Position

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  • Transition from Galloping Position to Balancing Position

    The way I understand it is that in the galloping position one places their hands on the withers (with or without a bridge), slides their butt back and closes their hip angle so they are in, essentially, a jockey position. The hips should be directly over the riders feet (i.e., the riders feet are not forward or back).

    When one then re-balances (assuming the horse has gotten on its forehand while galloping), the rider raises his shoulders towards a more vertical position (NOT getting behind the vertical).

    My question is: what happens with the riders hands? Do they stay planted on the withers or do they draw back a little to activate the bit? Is the mere changing of the riders position enough to balance the horse without also using the bit to get the horse to sit a little? I know that each horse and each situation is different but in a perfect world with a horse that "gets it" how should this work?

    I find that when I raise my shoulders and slide my hips forward, my hands want to come back towards my hips. This has the desired effect but I wonder if this then becomes a holding issue, thus sending conflicting signals to the horse? Legs and seat saying go and hands planted or moved back saying whoa.

    I tend to get hung up on the mechanics of things so a clear understanding might help me stop micro-managing and start riding with more feel. Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by tlw View Post
    Is the mere changing of the riders position enough to balance the horse without also using the bit to get the horse to sit a little? I know that each horse and each situation is different but in a perfect world with a horse that "gets it" how should this work?
    Ideally the lifting of your shoulder is absolutely all that it can take to rebalance a horse. This is taught over time if you will change your balance/position first before you make an adjustment with your hands. Riding a horse that does this on XC is an awesome thing!

    You might want to look into what the en vogue definition of "galloping position" is. The current trend is a much more upright body position--actually very unlike a jockey. The position changes in front of the fence more by tucking your butt than lifting your shoulder. Personally I don't care for it, and think it's more about riding like Phillip Dutton than an intellectual change. I figure PD and I are about the same height and I probably have 10 pounds on him. Let me assure you that our weight distribution couldn't be more different. That anyone would think we would/should hold our bodies in the same position for the best balance is silly.


    • #3
      On the hands question, I find it's much more of a lift with the shoulders which lifts the hands, but you're not taking back (unless, of course, you're consciously trying to take a tug or shorten the stride). In general, I find I can rebalance fairly effectively by lifting my shoulder and hand with my leg on - the horse lifts his shoulder correspondingly and there's no additional pressure on the horse's mouth. In short, changing the shape of the canter without changing the impulsion or speed.

      In galloping position, I'm trying pretty hard not to talk to their mouths unless I need to - hands are down and still, usually with a bridge, weight is in my heels and calves and up out of the tack, and he's cruising along. I find if you're nudging at them in the gallop phase, you're going to deaden the response to your rebalance. Thus, you let them cruise along under you, and then, in your rebalancing zone, you lift your shoulders, pull your core in, sink a little bit into your position, and concurrently lift your hand just through the geometry, not by actually tugging. Horse's shoulder lifts, balance shifts back, head comes up a bit, and there's the jump (again, assuming straight-forward fence). Land, hands back down, and off you go. It's not a huge change - less so on a fly fence, maybe a bit more so if you need to go down to a coffin canter or a more technical question.


      • Original Poster


        Thanks for the reply. As for the PD more upright galloping position, I tend to be that way because my old and achy back gets very tight and sore when in a "proper" galloping position. That said, when I then lift my shoulders to balance, I get behind the motion, which starts a whole series of events that are not always desirable (i.e, horse slows down, I get left behind since his stride is now not rhythmical and I'm not sure where he is taking off from, etc.). So, I've been working on the more classic position (to the delight of my PT since he sees that he will be able to send his kids to college on what he's making off of me). I'm pretty sure my horse was trained that way and we are in the "getting to know each other" phase so I want to get it right from the beginning.


        • #5
          I always try to be sure my hands are out ahead of my face. This helps me keep from pitching too far forward AND it keeps my hands free. I prefer to have my reins shorter and my hands ahead of the wither. If I'm planting them, which is rare, I plant them into the neck further forward.

          To rebalance, I say, "check" to my horse and I raise my head/shoulders just a little and they come back to me. It takes a long time of consistent practice to get them sharp to that aid but boy o boy, what a big pleasure it is to simply straighten up a tad and get a bouncy canter. My torso is a mile long (I'm 5'11 with very short legs) so the shoulder move for me has to be pretty tiny or I get a halt instead!
          Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


          • #6
            Originally posted by subk View Post
            You might want to look into what the en vogue definition of "galloping position" is. The current trend is a much more upright body position--actually very unlike a jockey.
            Agree with subk. The current trend looks ridiculous to me- all the angles are open, the center of balance is incredibly high and the riders have to pinch with their knees to stay on. That is biomechanically incorrect- instead of going with the horse's movement and using it to secure your position they are against it. Yuck.


            • #7
              Okay, I'm having difficulty with the way y'all are describing the gallop. Can one of you clear this up for me?

              First, please explain what you mean by bridging the reins, because in my mind, the effect of that is to provide a fixed place in the reins that gives the horse something to pull/balance against. It doesn't follow head movement.

              Second, why would one want a still hand at the gallop, if you're following the head movement? I think of the body in galloping position as more or less in a fixed position, but the shoulders, arms and hands as moving right along with the mouth. It's like the horse is divided into two parts: head and neck; and shoulders back to hindquarters. The part that's over the back moves rhythmically as the back moves, but as one single unit, while the arms and hands move as the horse's head makes them go, and are free floating from the shoulders--and independent of the seat.

              Which is really a long way of saying what happens to the following hand at the gallop the way you guys are describing it?
              "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
              Thread killer Extraordinaire


              • Original Poster


                Go here: http://horses.sportinglife.com/Video...362500,00.html.

                If you watch the lead horse for most of the ride you will see the jockey's hands pretty much planted in the wither and his elbows moving with the horses head. This gives a good steady contact while allowing the horse to run with minimal interference. It is only at the end of the race when the horse is asked (told) to lengthen that the hands come off the whither and move more dramatically. I think that is how it is supposed to work.

                If the link doesn't work, go over to the racing forum and click on the Epsom Derby thread, that's where I got it from.


                • #9
                  The hands move more dramatically at the end because the jockeys are actually pushing the horses neck to make them go, it's not about following their mouth at that point.

                  I have to say that I think point of a galloping position and jumping or preparing to jump position are about balancing, rather than "you must sit exactly here and do this". For one thing, a persons position varies in relation to the horse, the horses' balance, your tack and the exercise at hand. I have found the best way to work on this is by setting up exercises that you have to be balanced for, or else. Make you schooling time work for you.
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