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Equitation AND Hunters = non existent?

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  • Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
    Please note that I am not saying that these people have the ultimate answers.
    In 1934 Vladimir Littauer and Sergei Kournakoff published "The Defense of the Forward Seat" which is a ballistic study of the arc paths of the horse's shoulder and hips over the jump. In 1934 the technology was crude compared to today, but by strapping little light bulbs powered by batteries onto the withers and hips of the horse and jumping the horse in a dark arena before a camera with its lens open they got pictures of the actual arcs made by the horse during the jump, and then did the ballistic analyses on the arcs. This book is RARE (less than 400 copies) but I managed to buy two copies in the last 2-3 years. It shows a lot of the arc pictures they made. Unfortunately some of the analysis does not appear until "Common Sense Horsemanship" (1951) where it is briefly discussed.
    Count Toptani, in "Modern Show Jumping" (new revised edition, 1972), pages 90-93 he describes the study he did by slow motion film of horses jumping and he gives a short analysis of how the rider's postures during the whole jumping process affected the horse's jump. He does not show any pictures from his study, I wonder if these films survived at all.

    I would LOVE to see this work replicated today. With modern computers and laser beams and sophisticated technology we could definitely get better data than they did! And these studies were just from the side view, nowadays we have the technology so we could do studies on how the side to side movements of the rider affect the horse's jump also.
    Thanks for sharing these sources.

    I found the The-Common-Sense-Horsemanship online here, and am reviewing it now... Very cool!

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/32976259/T...e-Horsemanship

    ETA: type "Pic. 17" into the document search at the bottom of the page for this online book, and it will take you to a photo of the arcs formed by attaching the light bulbs to the horse!

    (The pictures are immediately after page 60 in the book).



    .
    Last edited by alterhorse; Feb. 23, 2012, 10:31 AM.

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    • In "Common Sense Horsemanship you can see some of the pictures of the study on page 60 and he discusses the study on page 66-68.

      Of course the whole book is worth reading. This study ("The Defense of the Forward Seat") seemed to have caused both Littauer and Kournakoff to change their teaching from a mixture of Fillis (Russian Cavalry Schools) and the Forward jumping position (an early "balanced" seat) to dropping collection altogether and going to the Forward Seat for all phases of cross-country riding, schooling and jumping.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        So I got a bit bogged down at worked and hadn't checked in on the discussion in a full day (OMG! heh)

        WOW! So many great thoughts and opinions. The video's are great. I really liked the hunter challenge, though with such clipped video I had a hard time seeing what was going on sometimes.

        The biomechanics are really interesting. There are so many variables for both horse and rider, but it would be amazing to do a study such as alterhorse suggests!

        I also struggle with the idea that a horses form would suffer if the rider had/was using good equitation. I understand they are doing everything to get the best round out of each horse, but I keep going back to fads or close calls. If you have a plain bay and a dark bay with four socks and a blaze put in similar rounds, I am pretty sure the dark bay with chrome would win.

        The word soft keeps coming up. Is there something about creating a soft fluid ride that makes it hard to maintain a solid position? I think there are eq and jumper riders out there who can put in nice rounds, but I would never consider them hunter rounds. Maybe this is some aspect of the differences?

        Comment


        • Originally posted by wanderlust View Post
          They already do this at the World Cup in Vegas. They pit International riders against top hunter riders in a hunter challenge.

          ETA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_QHc52X0ZA

          Note the missed distances, stops, cutting down behind, laying on the sides, and jumping over the shoulder that happens.

          This is really interesting to watch! IMO this should reinforce the theory that hunter rider position is about effectiveness and ekeing out every little point possible from a round. Yes?
          "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."

          www.thestartbox.wordpress.com
          www.useaiv.org

          Comment


          • After studying many more videos, my opinion....

            Regarding my initial hypothesis that a lowering of rider torso position may lighten the horses forehand:

            I tested the idea by standing on a scale and emulating lowering my torso into a hunter jumping position with varying degrees of movement.

            Results:
            * Very gently lowering the torso resulted in an average weight reduction of 10 pounds.

            * Lowering the torso into my own natural jumper position, created a surprising 20 pounds of reduction in weight.

            * Lowering the torso as quickly as I think any rider might ever reasonably do, resulted in a 30 pound reduction in weight.

            Note that the reduction in weight lasts for only as long as you are actually dropping your torso.

            All I can say is stand on a scale and see for yourself (but don't hurt yourself).

            Do I think this weight reducing effect is the reason for a hunter riders position... NO.

            Do I think this weight reducing effect may effect a horse in a biomechanical way.... Only slightly.

            The jumping position of the hunter rider seems designed to accomplish a maximum degree of non-interference with a horses way on going.

            The hunter rider tends to lower their torso "softly" onto the horses neck beginning at the moment that the horses front feet first leave the ground. The maximum point of flexion in the riders body in lowering the torso seems to be from the hip and waist. Such a lowering of the body seems to result in less disturbance in the knee and the lower leg, much less rearward movement of the riders hind end as in a common two point position, and would seem to make sense for a purpose of maintaining a continuous cadence in the horses stride before and after the obstacles.

            The riders hands are typically positioned moderately up the neck of the horse. and a crest release is utilized with little disturbance to the hand position. The riders torso forwardness seems to facilitate hand position in the function of providing the most consistent and least disturbing experience for the horse.

            (In my mind) The rider is typically somewhat forward of their own center of balance during jumping, and especially upon landing. The rider seems to often depend on the horses neck for recovery after a jump.

            The question of whether a horse might go the same with a rider in a more centered position brings up several questions. The most pertinent one I can think of is the question of disturbance to the horses sides. The balanced two point position is dependent upon rider balance over the stirrups. During a jump, a variety of unintended signals might be communicated to a horse, due to a balanced riders dependance on their stirrups as the foundation of support. By distributing their center more forwards and utilizing the horses neck for balance during jumping, the hunter rider may keep a more consistent lower leg, or in some cases use their knee to provide support, sometimes to the point that the lower leg may even swing rearwards.

            As to the question of hunter position and bascule...

            I do think that the forward jumping position of the hunter rider may facilitate a more natural bascule in the horse, because the rider is essential distributing more of their weight forwards during jumping, creating a sort of "tripod" stance between support points of stirrups and neck, and this in turn may allow for more freedom for the horses back.

            Relying on the horses neck for recovery seems to help a rider avoid coming back into the saddle too quickly and spoiling the horses rhythm.

            Absolutely I could be wrong! So criticisms and thoughts about the above are absolutely encouraged!

            I thought about providing video links to accentuate my points, but I feel it's in better taste to leave names and feeling out of this equation. I made my deductions by viewing videos from many top riders made over a the last ten years or so. I've been examining videos of both hunters and jumpers.

            Thank you OP for starting this thread, because it caused me to look very hard into something that's been right in front of me for a very long time, but I never really felt encouraged to think about it in a scientific way until now.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
              In "Common Sense Horsemanship you can see some of the pictures of the study on page 60 and he discusses the study on page 66-68.

              Of course the whole book is worth reading. This study ("The Defense of the Forward Seat") seemed to have caused both Littauer and Kournakoff to change their teaching from a mixture of Fillis (Russian Cavalry Schools) and the Forward jumping position (an early "balanced" seat) to dropping collection altogether and going to the Forward Seat for all phases of cross-country riding, schooling and jumping.
              Originally posted by JustMyStyle View Post
              So I got a bit bogged down at worked and hadn't checked in on the discussion in a full day (OMG! heh)

              WOW! So many great thoughts and opinions. The video's are great. I really liked the hunter challenge, though with such clipped video I had a hard time seeing what was going on sometimes.

              The biomechanics are really interesting. There are so many variables for both horse and rider, but it would be amazing to do a study such as alterhorse suggests!

              I also struggle with the idea that a horses form would suffer if the rider had/was using good equitation. I understand they are doing everything to get the best round out of each horse, but I keep going back to fads or close calls. If you have a plain bay and a dark bay with four socks and a blaze put in similar rounds, I am pretty sure the dark bay with chrome would win.

              The word soft keeps coming up. Is there something about creating a soft fluid ride that makes it hard to maintain a solid position? I think there are eq and jumper riders out there who can put in nice rounds, but I would never consider them hunter rounds. Maybe this is some aspect of the differences?

              Jackie,

              I think the show hunter should be thought of more as a "designer experience" for the horse, and less in terms of the intents behind the creation of the forward seat method of riding. The thoughts behind the forward seat seem more as a utilitarian approach to horsemanship, in that the aim is to provide the greatest diversity in ability for both horse and rider.

              The show hunter is about "showing off" the horses qualities, and the riding methods used seem well adapted to providing the desired effect.

              JustMyStyle,

              There may indeed be a fad quality present, but even so, I think it's best to keep in mind that the level of skill required to achieve any consistently desired appearance in a horses way of going is usually going to require real talent.

              Maybe think about halter classes and how some horses are bred just to look good in hand?

              It's human nature to create fads. I do understand your confusion though, but people do confusing things.

              On the subject of softness.

              A riders position of any functional design should become more efficient when the aids that create a desired appearance in the horse are applied with softness. The horse is still a horse no mater what discipline it has been selected to perform, and horses tend to prefer softness.

              A jumper rider may at times need to retain the excitement of their mount using appropriate aids. Many aids used in the jumper ring would never be applicable in the hunter ring, as they are just not necessary due to the different temperament of the hunter type horse.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                thanks alterhorse! Definitely a lot to think about and process.


                Do let us know if you continue looking at the mechanics of the riders position/weight and how it effects a horse jumping! So cool!

                Comment


                • Ugly riding is ugly riding and it does affect the overall picture, I don't care who you are. If McLain Ward, Katie Monahan and others can have picture perfect equitation over a Grand Prix jumper course, on a horse that needs to go clean and jump its best over jumps that are way bigger than anything in the hunter ring, there is no excuse for the ugly-ass hunter riders today.

                  Just because the judges are rewarding the baboon riders with their tails in the air doesn't mean it's more effective or better. It's just the style of the day. The thing about the hunters is, it is SUBJECTIVE. Whatever that particular judge likes will win. Or whichever trainer that rider is representing... . It's an opinion, not based on pure performance. The question to ask is, why are judges rewarding unsightly riding? Why is this the current trend?

                  It's no different than the peanut-rollers in Western riding. A 4 beat canter... sorry, lope that is slower than most horses' trots with the horse's nose on the ground is not good form nor is it attractive to watch or ride. Yet the judges were rewarding it for a long time. It was hideous.

                  Why would a judge encourage such extremes? Probably an ego trip for the judge to see if he can start a trend of making people look ridiculous on a horse and take credit for it, all the while laughing at the people riding like monkeys humping frogs. Or a trainer who is so high on himself that he puts a student in with poor EQ and a judge knows student is with BNT so he pins them anyways. Others see the poor EQ pinning and follow suit.

                  Either way, rewarding this mockery of equitation is doing our industry a disservice. Then again, this is the show hunters where LTD and cocktails are de rigueur. Longe and drug a horse to make him dead; then throw yourself up the horse's neck to make it look like he's got a bold jump.

                  Watching a hunter show recently with a well known BNT as a judge, I really didn't get why certain horses were winning. I saw riders perched with their hands in their laps, and horses cutting corners, not bending and looking like they were barely in control. And these were the horses that were winning.

                  At one show I went to, I was curious and asked the judge during the break why a particular horse won the last class/division*. He said he liked a horse with spark.

                  *It was a short stirrup class with 10 year old kids. All but one kid was on a pony and the one that was on the horse and being run away with won the class because it had "spark". The other ponies that were behaving and suitable for an 8, 9 or 10 year old rider were being penalized for being... SUITABLE for the job of taking care of little kids. Go figure.

                  Just one more reason I dislike the uber-political hunter ring.
                  Last edited by 2WBs1TB; Feb. 29, 2012, 01:40 PM.

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