Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

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piedmontfields
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Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:23 pm

Here are selected notes on position, exercises and rising trot. These are not quotes or a definitive explanation---but are simply my notes from what was presented.

Seat Exercises

In canter, stand up in a dressage seat, sending the hips forward. Ride for three strides, then sit three strides, then stand up again. Repeat. This is about opening the hip angle. You can use one hand on the cantle to help you balance if needed. In the standing dressage seat position, keep the leg underneath you, not out like a tent.

There is a feeling when you open the hip of the hips “smiling” or opening like a shark’s mouth! The front of the hip bones move out.

This hip opening also applies to rising trot. With energy, rise with the hips open. Don’t rise with hips in the same angle as the sit phase. Change the hip angle to open the hips on the rise.

In canter, the horse’s movement on every down landing actually stretches the hip open. Every landing is a smiling hip. When you allow this hip opening, the canter is a self-feeding system and maintains its swing (and you don’t have to work so hard). Many riders tend to close the hips slightly on landing instead of opening them. Think that your belt needs to come forward on the landing.

You can use standing dressage position to put the legs on in sitting trot, too. This exercise shows how to use the leg to get the back lifted. Then you can go back and forth between sitting and standing.

Keep some of the dressage standing feeling in the dressage sitting position (this is helpful for people who tend to sit heavy or lean back or fold too much at the hip).

These exercise help to stabilize the leg and put more elasticity into the stirrup.

Notice that each time you transition to sitting, you nearly have to sit forward, not in back of the movement.

Exercise: Ride with a soft ball under each sit bone. This was helpful for a rider who tended to sit a bit heavy and behind the horse’s motion.

A supple seat has positive tension. It’s stable, but it’s not relaxed.

Find your centers: Center of gravity and dynamic center are different things. It depends on your body where these are. The dynamic center is often what we think of as our “core”. The center of gravity is above it. You can find your center of gravity by drawing an “x” on your front body: From one shoulder to the opposite hip bone and then from the other shoulder to opposite hip bone. Having a center of gravity that is far apart from your dynamic center requires *stretch* . This is a lot of power and involves elasticity. Your dynamic center usually wants to be faster than your center of gravity (gravity is lazy). This can be a challenge with keeping them connected.

To assist you in connecting a high center of gravity to your dynamic center, think of pressing your front body + especially the sternum towards a huge round ball. Or towards a net. Sometimes you’re on the outside of the ball, sometimes you’re on the inside. Then try to meet the ball on your side body, too.

Remember that the spiral seat starts in the hips/pelvis.

Be careful about tucking the seat and leaning backwards. If you tuck the pelvis, there is only backward energy. Think about if you were to stand up and tuck the pelvis. Then jump straight up in the air. You will land behind your starting position. This shows you how the tucked pelvis puts you behind the horse’s motion.

Notes for a hunter/jumper rider:

Suppleness comes first. Don’t commit to a dressage seat and be stiff. Otherwise, we will disturb the horse. Connect the contact with the horse from a jumping seat to the dressage seat. Use that base of the jumping seat, but build on it. It is not something to get rid of. Think of a full massage of the horse’s back. Don’t be a clothespin pressing with your sit bones.

Rising Trot

Remember, which each rise your hands do move forward—because your hips go forward (as opposed to hands staying back while you post your hips through your hands). The horse can see your hands. They expect things from this and won’t reach if the hand looks like it is moving backwards. You can make your hand a visual clue for the horse to reach out.

When your arms rise with you, it gives more encouragement for self-carriage.

Exercise: Hold a sponge in each hand with a straw sticking up out of it. The rise of trot can be a squeeze/push of a forward half halt.

In rising trot, you want some weight in the stirrups and even more weight when you sit.

Instead of thinking rise higher, you can think of rising making your narrower, brining your legs closer together. This helps the horse come up.

Think of a zipper for the front body in rising trot: One hand zip up your sternum and the other hand pulls lightly down to stabilize.

Exercise: Take one hand above your head and have your palm press toward an imaginary ceiling. What do you have to do to make the hand steady? You can do this exercise posting, sitting or standing. To stabilize the hand, the rider must ground. This exercise can help you ground down while growing long.

Exercise: Ride very big and be quick in the rise, making the hips travel a long way. Then mix in rising very slightly. Does your horse keep the rhythm? This is a good check of the rider control of body speed, and it prepares you to control the horse on the seat. Then we can do the more typical thing of rise quicker for more push from the horse and rise slower for more cadence from the horse.
Note: our perceptions in the pelvis are mainly about speed.
Last edited by piedmontfields on Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

piedmontfields
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:28 pm

More notes from Susanne Von Dietz clinic

These notes focus more on general principles and specific exercises.

General principles

Once the horse is out of balance, they can’t work in balance. Fix the balance first.

We may need to ride “piano” (quietly). Ride a bit slower and smaller to secure the balance. Then you can add power. Think of not going too slow, though. Just like pedaling a bicyle very slowly is hard for us, moving very slowly in balance in hard for a horse.

In every turn, the horse’s shoulders lift and then stabilize; the hind legs then come under this. You can use this little turn to lift the shoulders into half pass or to use it in canter (even without a change), as it improves the horse’s balance.

Stretch happens after the warm-up. Stretching means moving in balance to fill out the frame.

If the horse escapes flexion, they escape connection.

Some horses escape connection by putting their neck against the rein so that the contact is invalidated. In these cases, open the rein so that you can make them feel direct contact without neck interference. This can be quite useful for corners.

Rider Breathing: Explore the effects of 3 rider breaths on your horse. 1. Hot fog, exhaling completely. 2. Cool wind through the horse’s ears. 3. S-s-s-s-s- sound. The effects can vary quite a bit by horse. Effects could be grounding, stabilizing, energizing.

Horse Breathing: You want your horse’s exhale at canter to help her rebound off the ground. Stress breathing makes the canter more earthbound and heavy.

A horse can need suppleness as in self-carriage—not relaxing.

Horses can only bend correctly when the back is up.

Useful exercise to prep reactions to outside aids: Turn on forehand to turn on haunches to turn on forehand to turn on haunches. In this exercise, the horse has to control its sholders and sit on its hind.

Shoulder-in narrows the horse. Travers widens the horse. A horse can’t have the same lift in travers that it has in shoulder-in. But he can be wider. So in half pass, we transfer the lift scope from shoulder-in into the wide scope of travers on a diagonal. The horse’s ability to widen is related to its ability to narrow, and vice versa. Shoulder-in in canter is a narrowing, balancing exercise.

When you “give” to your horse, think about *what* you are giving: contact? Self-carriage? Freedom? Collection? (Avoid giving nothing)

When we react to feeling, we’re reacting to history. It’s already behind the movement. Our actions in riding have be futuristic. Ride where you want the horse to be.

On rider learning: Usually when these movement make sense, the balance is there. You can’t necessarily feel everything in yourself. Try to “find the ease” in it. It really can be as simple as when you shorten your inside leg, the horse shortens their inside leg.

Canter

Canter exercise: Turn 2 strides then go straight. Repeat. This helps shoulder management and balance.

Canter or trot exercise: Ride a diamond instead of a circle. 3 strides straight, 3 strides corner, 3 strides straight, 3 strides corner…Then change this to riding 1 stride straight, 1 stride turning, 1 stride straight 1 stride turngin (aka a circle).

Canter exercise: Alond the diagonal, instead of changing, turn around a 10 m arc and go back on the diagonal. Only when the canter is good and balanced do you change a the end.

On a lazy horse, don’t push into the landing. Feel the highest point of the movement and create swing in the horse. If you move too much (push), the horse becomes stable and stiff. Think of dribbling a basketball. When you meet the horse on the up, you can affect the direction.

Canter pirouette prep: On a 10 m circle you need to be able to send the canter forward . Think of riding fewer strides in this small circle. Remember, every stride is a new story.

In canter “ground covering” should really be called “air covering”!

Trot and Relatives

It can be helpful to ride patterns in “endless left (or right) flexion” with changes of direction (think of snowman patterns).

Flexion is the outcome of good bending.

Slalom exercise (in trot or canter): Start with a slalom on the quarter line that tracks a few strides on either side of line. The horse’s hind leg need to stay on the track. You can do this exercise with or without changing flexion. Then make a shallow slalom where you just slalom the horse’s shoulders.

Changing flexions while riding a pattern helps with self-carriage. But spend most of the time with the horse’s nose in the middle of the chest.

Think of piaffe as welcoming the ground. In a way it is like moving in a big box of deep mud.

Think of passage as trampolining off the ground. It is a quicker landing and take off.

When you are addressing different hind leg activity (need to make them match in quickness), work on straight lines off the track, not on circles.

demi
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby demi » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:13 am

Thanks for sharing these notes. I am reading SvD’s book at the moment and the notes make more sense as I read the book. Her stuff is not all easy to understand and I have to scratch my head a bit. But once I get what she is saying, it makes a lot of sense. The illustrations in the book are so helpful, and I find myself going back to them when I am trying to figure out what she’s saying. I’ll read your notes again when I finish the book.

piedmontfields
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:22 am

I am re-reading both of her books now, too, and they make a lot more sense to me now that I've seen her teach! Will be interested in your thoughts and experiments.

calvin
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby calvin » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:42 pm

Greatly appreciated, PF. Thank you for taking the time, making the notes, and thinking about what you have heard and seen. I have SvD's books and I think this is a wonderful addition. You have added some practical things to do and to try.

piedmontfields
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:54 pm

I'm glad you found the notes interesting, Calvin. To be honest, I'm still reading and processing and trying things out from that clinic. Overall, her teaching has made a very good impact on my riding---and it has happened at a good moment for further development.

demi
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby demi » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:19 pm

I'm just over halfway through "Balance in Movement". It is not a quick read, at least for me. I haven't even been riding for the last 5 weeks so am not able to try things out. One of her "Maxims" that I highlighted was "Being moved, not moving actively, this is the motto!" is one that I know the importance of, but still lose sight of when I am concentrating on other things. I am going to start a thread about lunging and that maxim is involved....

demi
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby demi » Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:01 pm

Not sure which of the two SvD threads to put this in, so just picked one :)

On p. 94 of “Balance in Movement”, she describes the effect of the thumb position on the wrist. In theory, I can see why this is very important, but when I go thru the exercise, I can’t feel any difference in whether I hold my thumb flat, or like a roof. Maybe I just have some arthritis in the wrists which limits the motion. But on the other hand, maybe I just don’t have the sensitivity to feel it, and I need to work on it...I tried to be honest with myself, and I even looked at pictures to see how I hold the rein. My conclusion is that I am somewhat inconsistent. Sometime the thumb is flat, and sometimes it is like a little roof.I am interested in anyone else’s thoughts on this.

piedmontfields
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Re: Notes from Susanne Von Dietz Clinic

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:12 pm

I am now mostly physically unable to hold the thumb like a roof (with a good bend in the thumb), as my hands work at about 60% normal ability.

But back when I could do it (and was taught to do this), the purpose was to be able to give very quiet, specific, changes in the rein (pulse in the thumb) without other hand movement. When the thumb is flat, it is much harder to do this (and those light pulses tend to become bigger hand/wrist movements). There is a way in which doing that thumb bend makes the wrist more independent and therefor less stiff.I re-read the section in the book and I think this is what she is describing (although I did not observer her teaching this at the clinic).

BTW, Charles de Kunffy also teaches this position of the thumb.


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