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Learning to ride THEN -vs- learning to ride NOW

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  • Learning to ride THEN -vs- learning to ride NOW

    I have been reading the treads on 2 point and perching and then thinking about how I ride and how I was taught to ride in the early 80's.

    Back then I was taught to ride off my thighs, and using my upper leg from knee to hip as my base of support and my lower leg as the "go" button. "GO" forward "GO" around my leg "GO" away from my leg etc. And also a a balance point, leg to far forward I fall back , leg to far back I fall forward.

    Yet as I read these threads everything I was taught was wrong??? I "perch" although not really I "pinch" with my knee, again not really as I use my whole thigh and knee is attached.
    I don"t use my lower leg as my base of support, when i drop my stirrups I post off my thigh not my calves.

    I do have an incredibly secure seat, great balance,etc. I rarely fall off, last time was about 10 years ago and that was do to inattentiveness not seat. Horse threw a buck when I completely was not paying attention to her.

    So why was everything I was taught then right and not now? FYI I was taught by some very old school PCers,(former national examiners) and some excellent teachers from across the pond. Have the styles changed that much or have the terms changed?
    Proud Mama of a BOY rider

  • #2
    You weren't taught wrong. I think the evolution happens becuase of the influx of heavier quieter horses.

    The Tb's of the 80's required us to ride a bit perched, they like it that way; I remember many a horse I would "hide behind my leg" in an US. The current WB's, and crosses require us to ride with a more complete leg and seat. They aren't born in front of our leg.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think you were taught wrong then.

      I think NOW there is way too much emphasis on position and not enough on actual riding. I think there is too much emphasis on posing and staying out of the way.

      Good luck finding a H/J trainer who can actually help you with flat work in the real sense. One who can tell you how to correct track and pace with the correct use of your aids to the base of a fence. One who can tell you something more then "use your leg" or "get him back" - oh, really, how EXACTLY? Where have those trainers gone who can actually tell you how to use your aids correctly to slow a horse down or straighten him? They are around but they are very rare.
      Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
        I don't think you were taught wrong then.

        I think NOW there is way too much emphasis on position and not enough on actual riding. I think there is too much emphasis on posing and staying out of the way.

        Good luck finding a H/J trainer who can actually help you with flat work in the real sense. One who can tell you how to correct track and pace with the correct use of your aids to the base of a fence. One who can tell you something more then "use your leg" or "get him back" - oh, really, how EXACTLY? Where have those trainers gone who can actually tell you how to use your aids correctly to slow a horse down or straighten him? They are around but they are very rare.
        One right here!

        Comment


        • #5
          You weren't taught wrong.

          But I was, by kind but ignorant peeps who were all about lower leg in the two point as an alternative to pinching with your knees. Had many things been different-- my not coming to them with bad "back yard" habits to break, my being taller, the horses I rode being a bit more broke, those guys being more into form than "just survive" function-- I might have understood the ride from your thigh concept.

          It's a beautiful, effective thing. It's what the dressage people perhaps have always done. I like it even on push-ride horses. If I simply stay on via my thigh, I can use my lower leg any way I want as an aid. If I clamp my lower leg on, I'll make these horses dead-sided. The hot ones can have a more consistent, relaxed feel from thigh all the way to lower calf and do fine, perhaps feeling reassured and contained. Or they can have no lower leg, but one remains still just because you exert a little energy to hold your knee at some angle while your base of support comes from your thigh.

          Since we are built like inverted wishbones, I find it doesn't take a lot of tension to use my thighs to hold me on the horse. But it did take time to learn how to "do less" and to distinguish pinching with my knee from closing my whole thigh softly.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
            I don't think you were taught wrong then.

            I think NOW there is way too much emphasis on position and not enough on actual riding. I think there is too much emphasis on posing and staying out of the way.

            Good luck finding a H/J trainer who can actually help you with flat work in the real sense. One who can tell you how to correct track and pace with the correct use of your aids to the base of a fence. One who can tell you something more then "use your leg" or "get him back" - oh, really, how EXACTLY? Where have those trainers gone who can actually tell you how to use your aids correctly to slow a horse down or straighten him? They are around but they are very rare.
            I am lucky enough to have one of these trainers.
            It's awesome
            Jen Evans & DaBear

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
              I don't think you were taught wrong then.

              I think NOW there is way too much emphasis on position and not enough on actual riding. I think there is too much emphasis on posing and staying out of the way.

              Good luck finding a H/J trainer who can actually help you with flat work in the real sense. One who can tell you how to correct track and pace with the correct use of your aids to the base of a fence. One who can tell you something more then "use your leg" or "get him back" - oh, really, how EXACTLY? Where have those trainers gone who can actually tell you how to use your aids correctly to slow a horse down or straighten him? They are around but they are very rare.
              THEY STILL EXISIT!! my mom is one and now I am teaching my daughter in the same way. We teach you to ride with your whole leg,using yoru loer leg to make the horse bend, move up or come back, along with the use of a VERY soft hand, hands are not for riding ,legs are. Hands HELP but legs do the majority of the work. We break our babies on the flat first , and they don't jump a SINGLE fence until they bend, move off both legs, back and move forward. When it is time for them to trot their first X there is NO doubt that they understand what we are asking for.
              All of this takes time, lots and lots of time, teaching a kid to ride this way takes time too. My 5 yr old has been riding since she was 3 and has never jumped a fence or cantered. She spends hours on a lunge line riding without her hands or her stirrups. She can hold a two point WITHOUT stirrups at a trot for close to 3 minutes. She can steer her pony ( and trust me pony is not cooperative) with her legs alone! Again this take time, most kids want instant gratification , I know kids who show after 2months of lessons?? what is the point?? push button ponies are nice, and they help a kids learn but in the end if all you can do is pose on the back of a horse what have you truly accomplished???
              In our society today people look for short cuts in all aspects of life, riding is no acception. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort then you end up with a horse or pony who is well broke on the flat and a rider who can ride almost any horse. yes it takes time but the rewards are well worth the effort!
              Kim
              If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, there is a difference between 'holding on' with your lower leg (knee to heel) and 'having your weight there' when you are in 2-point.

                IMO, the lower leg replaces the seat as the point of stability when the rider is up out of the saddle in 2-point. But, doing so doesn't immobilize the calf or keeping it from being used in a conventional leg-aid way. I can still stand on my legs and still wiggle them...

                The thigh style is helpful, but to me, in that method, the rider is shallow on the horse and it provides little stability. I teach for the 2-point to have the weight drop into the lower leg/ankle/heel, the whole of the leg equally toned and engaged, but the muscles of the thigh long and relaxed (but still engaged -- iow, not clamped and not lax). Not so sure dressage riders 'hold' on with their thighs -- they're just in balance like any other rider and have properly placed seatbones/pelvis to keep themselves stabilized, and the leg hangs naturally from the hip joint until they want to use it in some way...

                Hellerkm -- I think it's parents, not the kids, who want instant gratification, who are pushing for kids to canter or jump before their time, who want to get over on the other moms, and use their kids for their own aggrandizing. And who don't respect the art of horsemanship, knowing their own limits, and by example to the child, respecting and supporting the instructor who is really doing the child a major service by teaching them proper riding, not riding for the short stirrup division. At the same time, your 5 year old isn't the average student who comes in for 30 min. a week to ride -- it sounds like she has a lot more saddle time on a private pony than most kids, for sure. But, I think I totally hear you on your approach to give her a genuine start in riding, not a poseur start.

                Tiddyrabbit -- oh, it's so true. I sit at the warmup and I'll hear "get him back" -- and with some kids, they understand that the terms means using x combination of aids to accomplish that. Other times, I scratch my head and think, 'well, how is the kid to know what exactly to do with that directive??"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
                  I don't think you were taught wrong then.

                  Where have those trainers gone who can actually tell you how to use your aids correctly to slow a horse down or straighten him? They are around but they are very rare.
                  I've been blessed to ride w/ many good trainers (started showing at 5 yrs old (1976) that teach these fundamentals, including my current trainer who came up the ranks w/ some of the top trainers in the nation.

                  I do agree there are too many out there that call themselves trainers that don't know this stuff though.

                  And to the original poster - you weren't taught wrong. I do agree w/ mrs. bradbury's point that you must ride today's show horse differently than you did those popular in the 80s and 90s. I have a TB hunter, but he has to be ridden like a warmblood because he's big and slow legged. Many of the older hunters had a gas pedal and you were allowed to use it on the more natural (no stride counting) courses that were popular at the time.

                  Edited to add this point: Just because today's hunter is different doesn't mean the same fundamentals don't apply though. I still think it's very important that today's students learn to effectively use all their aids to communicate w/their horse. Like others have said, I see too many people rushed through the system not learning this. It's a different world we live in....
                  Last edited by chawley; Jun. 7, 2009, 10:57 AM.

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                  • #10
                    another one here that has had the fortune to ride with the good trainers in Europe and the US.
                    www.haute-ecole.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
                      I think NOW there is way too much emphasis on position and not enough on actual riding. I think there is too much emphasis on posing and staying out of the way..
                      AMEN! I get sick watching the local shows around here. My trainer would have just died if she saw what I have seen in the last couple of years. It is SO hard to find someone to teach to ride instead of teaching to look pretty!
                      "A horse is an Angel without wings"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wow. I didn't know how fortunate I was, to stumble onto the trainers I had--but I'm glad I DID. Somehow, it made me recognize when something wasn't right and try to find one of the "old ways" trainers, even if I thought I was being foolish.

                        I truly thought everyone knew how to use their legs to turn, bend, inside leg/outside rein, etc., till I saw an article in PH about the inside leg/outside rein concept. It was an eyeopener to me. Brought home to me how lucky I've been in the trainers I've found.

                        Kim
                        I loff my Quarter horse clique

                        I kill threads dead!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Agree with much of what has already been said. Currently ride (or well, not ride as the case may be as horse and trainer are in one state and I am far away) with a trainer who is very 'old school.' COTH actually helped to open my eyes to how fortunate I have been to train with her all these years. Was seriously perplexed as to why so few people in our area rode the way we did.

                          Instant gratification is definitely part of the problem. I see the 'old school' way as a more long-term approach to horsemanship. It's not just a different leg that's being taught, it is an entirely different style of riding. And not something that one can just pick-up and learn in a few months, it requires years, and frequently decades of experience just to get a glimpse of those truly great moments. Every body part, every movement has a purpose. Those nuances just can't be shown to you, one must *feel* them. *That* seat and leg can feel the difference between riding hollow, flat, and round; can maintain countercanter and do downwards transitions without reins; can feel spooks, bolts, bucks, etc before they happen.

                          Many people just aren't sufficiently educated to see or even know the difference between 'old school' and 'new school.' And if there's no "difference," why take the way that has one walk uphill both ways to school in snow up to the chin?

                          But who knows, my mom does not even ride and she can differentiate between styles.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Well I didn't think that I had been taught wrong just different. The interesting thing is that I teach the same way that I was taught to ride. I try to explain to students that I have a very different style of teaching than most instructors. I am constantly asking my kids(adult and kids alike) "do you feel it?" If they can't then I know that I am not presenting it in a way that is understandable. I then change my method to suit the student. I teach all my kids how to ride not how to sit pretty. Take my son for example - he in no way shape or form can "equitate" but he can jump 2'3" without falling off. He is going to a show next weekend with the only expectation is to make it around the course. He knows he will not win a ribbon much less the class but he is simply going to gain experience. Will it be pretty? No not at all, his hands will be all over the place(he has ADD and a myriad of other mental problems one of which actually affects how he can hold his hands still) However, the leg is pretty solid. Does he have a solid canter yet? No not with current pony who refuses to canter with him, so he will trot the course. My point being is that the kid can sit on the pony and RIDE. And he has been taught that if he feels like he may be coming off to bail off with an emergency dismount before it gets ugly. To KNOW that he is loose and that it will get ugly.

                            And to the original poster - you weren't taught wrong. I do agree w/ mrs. bradbury's point that you must ride today's show horse differently than you did those popular in the 80s and

                            This statement and the statement earlier I do have to disagree with. A truly effective leg is an effective leg no matter what the horse is underneath it. Its in the use of the leg not the "style" of the leg. JMO anyway.
                            Proud Mama of a BOY rider

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My point being is that the kid can sit on the pony and RIDE. And he has been taught that if he feels like he may be coming off to bail off with an emergency dismount before it gets ugly. To KNOW that he is loose and that it will get ugly.
                              You see a lot of kids at events like that - their ponies don't go well- I don't think they are much more "effective" at influencing the horse than the perchy kids, but they are tight as ticks and don't come off.

                              I think it used to be very common to spend a few years "not learning" and riding unsupervised and learning what you need to do not to fall off while not worrying about anything- not the horse's way of going or your eq. You developed muscles and balance on your naughty pony that you tooled around in a field on. I'm betting your son rides a few times a week- at least- and you maybe don't hound him too much?

                              Sooo.... you ended up developing all the muscle and balance that you needed when the time came to take lessons. Lessons then refined you and got you using your aids correctly.

                              I see beginner kids and adults today and above all, they look physically weak in the tack. The hunters look a bit perchy and the more dressage based people look bouncey and handsy. I don't think it is a product of teaching- but a product of not enough time in the tack messing around and developing balance and strength. Once a week on a lesson pony isn't enough riding to get anywhere close to being an effective rider from any position. The muscles and balance never get formed.

                              The time and effort needed to get the base of fitness for riding is painful and awkward... best done as a 6 year old that thinks falling is fun. It doesn't much matter how you do 2-point- positions will vary, probably driven by rider conformation- its the underlying balance and fitness that is key.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                It's amazing what corners you can cut once you take uphill, downhill, outside the ring and un-prescribed distances out of the equation!
                                madeline
                                * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I think the rider's conformation makes a difference. It took me a long, long time to figure out to ride my hot TBs with thigh closed. It's even more important for me because of the extreme turnout of my calf and feet. If I put all my weight in my heels my toes point out at more than a 45 deg angle. (I can turn my feet more than 180 degrees.) That of course puts the back of my calf on the horse, which is bad on a hot horse. If I concentrate on wrapping my thigh around him, I can modulate my lower leg better. I also have to put my weight in the outer part of my foot and turn my heel out. The shorter my stirrups the more difficult it is. Huh, maybe I should just take up dressage ... or ride dead horses.
                                  Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi

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