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Equitation Help! Diagonals..

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  • Equitation Help! Diagonals..

    Picking up the correct diagonal..the FIRST time...is something I have always struggled with. It is my goal this winter is to fix this! I can glance down and see if I am on the right diagonal and I can feel when I am on the wrong one. But that just doesn't cut it in an Equitation class. Does any one have any tips for practicing picking up the right diagonal by feel...the FIRST time! I compete in AQHA type flat equitation classes...sometimes they will ask us to pick up the left or right diagonal...can someone clarify what this means? Thanks!!
    Last edited by Rambler; Jan. 13, 2013, 09:06 PM. Reason: more questions!

  • #2
    You know... now that I think about it, when I'm urging my horse into a trot, I kind of either stand a stride or sit one. I figure out his legs from there

    *By which I didn't mean changing the diagonal if it's wrong- just to wait a moment after asking before beginning my posting!
    "You either go to the hospital or you get back on! Hospital or on!"


    • #3
      Start the trot by sitting the first few beats and glance down real quick, and then start posting on the "right" diagonal. Practice at home and in no time you'll get it within the first stride easily.
      Barn rat for life


      • #4
        Reading this, I don't even realize how I pick it up.. I just kind of do! It has also been drilled into since I was three. I see a lot of people sit for a stride or so before picking it up though, so maybe start with that and by summer you will have it DOWN.


        • #5
          can you feel the hind legs in the walk? ask for the trot and concentrate on the hind legs, then follow the outside one into your posting.
          don't look.FEEL IT!
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • #6
            You just focus on the front legs while you're walking; hone in on the outside front. As it moves forward, think "up". When you ask for the trot, keep track of that outside front by feel and think "Up, up, up" as you transition to the trot. Make your body do what your brain says and it will work every time!


            • #7
              Hi Rambler
              When a right or left diagonal is specified, the judge expects you to rise with that front leg; right diagonal - right front leg, left diagonal - left front leg.

              The trick is that you may be asked to pick it up from a stop, or a sitting trot, at a cone, and with no peeking. To help with this, practice having someone call random diagonals to pick up from stops, walks, sitting trots, and from the canter to trot transition. Do this drill everytime you ride.

              When you can feel it consistently, you need to practice feeling which leg your horse predictably walks into from a halt ( they will pick one over the other most of the time) some horses can be more easily be influenced to trot off on a certain leg by the way you position them.
              Practice off of the rail, going down the center of the ring a lot!


              • #8
                You won't start training yourself to feel it until you give up looking down for the diagonal. Have a parent, friend, or trainer who knows correct diagonals there to quiz you. Go up in to the trot and tell them if you're on the correct or wrong diagonal based on just feeling. Even if your answer is incorrect, it will start to teach you what to feel for. With someone else as your eyes, you can give up peeking!


                • #9
                  some riders get it easier by feeling the inside hind leg moving up. If you always come up on the wrong diaganol, sit and extra beat


                  • #10
                    Most horses I say most because the moment I say all is the moment someone will say I knew a horse.... will strike off in the trot on the correct diagonal in a ring setting. So if your going to the left, and you horse is balanced properly and you ask for the trot he will strike off with the inside rear outside fore. This is true going up or down.
                    Friend of bar .ka


                    • #11
                      Most people are sided - you tend to pick up the same diagonal regardless of direction. Figure out which one this is. Then practice picking up the opposite one. It'll feel really uncomfortable at first before you get the hang of it.

                      It really takes disciplined practice. Sitting trot, posting, two point, posting...for days.


                      • #12
                        I realized that when I did a downward transition from the canter, if I was on the correct lead I would come up on the correct diagonal if I started posting on the first trot stride. If I was on the wrong lead, I would pick up the wrong diagonal. I more recently realized that if the horse was set up for the correct canter lead, I could pick up the correct diagonal. If he was not going in a manner that would set him up properly for the correct canter lead i.e. he was not straight, I would pick up the wrong lead. The upward transition requires more thought for me in terms of diagonals-- there are more steps I guess.


                        • #13
                          Put yourself back on the lunge line with a friend at the other end. Close your eyes... even blindfold yourself if you're prone to cheat.

                          Feel for the outside leg going forward and rise on it... yup, up-downer stuff at the walk, so you can learn the feel.

                          Then ask for the sitting trot. Pick up the rise and your friend can say Correct or Not. Again, you'll be forced to learn the feel.
                          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                            Put yourself back on the lunge line with a friend at the other end. Close your eyes... even blindfold yourself if you're prone to cheat.
                            We did this in college with my IHSA coach, except it was just picking up the trot with our eyes closed and having to pick up the correct diagonal. It didn't take long picking it up and sitting just the first step or two to get it by feel.
                            A Year In the Saddle


                            • #15
                              A lot of great ideas.... just wanted to add for me it depends on what horse I am riding. I can feel in on some and not others. I agree with sitting a stride until you feel it. Maybe its hard to feel the diagonal when the horse is going slower. So make sure you have established a good posting trot from your horse.

                              Don't be discouraged; you will get it.
                              Live in the sunshine.
                              Swim in the sea.
                              Drink the wild air.


                              • #16
                                My shortcut is that I've trained myself to always feel the horse's off side front let move. All you need to be able to feel is one leg, then you just have to remember which direction you're going and you'll either rise with that leg or wait a beat.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by JumpsJumps View Post
                                  You won't start training yourself to feel it until you give up looking down for the diagonal. Have a parent, friend, or trainer who knows correct diagonals there to quiz you. Go up in to the trot and tell them if you're on the correct or wrong diagonal based on just feeling. Even if your answer is incorrect, it will start to teach you what to feel for. With someone else as your eyes, you can give up peeking!
                                  This. You will not learn to truly feel it until you stop looking. I learned by asking and staying in the sitting trot as long as it took until I was 100% SURE I was picking it up correctly. Over time, the amount of time lessoned until I could just feel and immediately pick it up.

                                  Do they really ask you to post on the "incorrect" diagonal intentionally in eq classes? I find that odd. But, whatever!
                                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks for all the great input guys!! vxf111 there would be cones going down the center of the ring, you have do certain things at each cone, such as sitting trot, lead change, or picking up the right or left diagonal. It's tricky! We wouldn't be asked to trot on the rail on the incorrect diagonal.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Rambler View Post
                                      Thanks for all the great input guys!! vxf111 there would be cones going down the center of the ring, you have do certain things at each cone, such as sitting trot, lead change, or picking up the right or left diagonal. It's tricky! We wouldn't be asked to trot on the rail on the incorrect diagonal.
                                      That is tricky, and somewhat odd. It's been a long time since I did APHA, and we certainy had a lot of "pattern" equitation classes-- but I can't ever recall the diagram telling you what diagonal to be on?! But whatever! Since they ask for it, best to prepare!
                                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                      • #20
                                        If you worry too much about picking up the right diagonal you likely won't get it.
                                        Don't look! Learn to feel.
                                        A dressage trainer once told me, "On a truly balanced and straight horse you will have a harder time feeling the diagonal".

                                        I typically only ride my one mare but when I have ridden others horses I do the same thing. I sit two strides.... not sure why it is always two for me but it works.
                                        Plus, I like sitting the first few to feel the quality of my trot.