Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

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Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:20 am

I am just making another thread for this topic--but of course it comes up in all kinds of ways for all situations.

I have been re-teaching my mare the whole "when I take my lower leg off, it means GET IN GEAR or there are CONSEQUENCES" over the past 10 days since a new trainer teaching us pointed out (again) to me that when my mare is correctly forward, all is good; when she is not, it is a mess!

Given that I have obviously muddied this lesson for my dear mare, I am very pleased that she is very with the program over this recent period. We had another very forward thinking ride tonight, right from mounting. Last night we did hand gallops in the field, so maybe she was remembering that fun. My corrections are basically my leg and a bit of whip waving if needed---as I am learning (again!) that leg + whip threat are deeply meaningful to the mare. Whip contact and spurs, not so much.

Feel free to chime in with your wisdom, experience and process!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby demi » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:56 am

I cant chime in with wisdom or experience, but I would be very interested in a little more explanation of when you take your lower leg off. Is having your lower leg on like a neutral position? Or is it like your leg is on because you’re in gear, but taking it off is like stepping on the clutch to move to another gear? I am guessing there are other things (maybe lots of other things) involved with taking the lower leg off, so it may be really hard to explain.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:59 am

Thanks for starting this thread, Piedmont!

This is an on and off battle with my mare. I'm currently in a real slump, but had a really good summer and fall getting increased reactivity (where did it go!?!?).

One of the things that helped most was that while I was warming up at free walk, I would test her responsiveness, by asking for a bit more stride. If I didn't get some forward reaction, I'd boot her off my leg immediately. This set the tone that even "relaxing time" was still working time. It also let me correct a lack of response with little expectation other than forwards and limited potential restriction from the rider since we were on the buckle. Once I started setting the tone this way, I had huge improvement overall.

My instructor has also encouraged lots of mini transitions within gaits using my seat and lots of changes of position by slight lateral movements. By changing things up every few strides, it makes it harder for my mare to get into auto mode, where she gets bored and zones out.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:02 am

demi wrote:Or is it like your leg is on because you’re in gear, but taking it off is like stepping on the clutch to move to another gear? .


For me it's mostly this...

Another way to think of it is that in collected trot, I keep a light leg on, but the goal is that when I release that light leg encouraging collection, my horse should spring freely into her medium gait.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:26 pm

I do not teach my horse to go when i take off the leg. My goal is for the leg to tell the horse to activate the hind legs and i cannot think of an occasion where i would want the horse to go without the rear engine activated. I do turn my toes forward when i want the horse to flow forward, the leg is still draped, i just turn the toes more in. That usually means you are in the right momentum, stay there. I think perhaps this is the first time i have heard someone say that they want the horse to go forward when they take the leg off.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:37 pm

First of all, I will note that the training I'm doing for the horse to anticipate a large aid if a sufficient forward reaction doesn't happen when I let air between my leg and the horse is not my "normal" way of riding. Ideally, it is more like Chiasamba described. But I learned this technique as a way to activate sluggier horses who can be very tight in the body and to physical aids.

With my horse it is very helpful, especially for the warm-up part of the ride. With some horses, you might go from quiet drape leg to stronger leg to get that reaction. Emi resists that and tightens--especially during the warm-up. I can ride more normally with the lower leg on after the warm-up. Basically, the leg off warning is a corrective, not a lifestyle!

That said, the moment of taking the lower leg off the horse (creating a gap of air between boot and horse hair) is *not* IMO like depressing the clutch (which takes the vehicle out of gear/out of power---at least that is how I think about it while driving 100+ miles a day with a manual transmission!). It is rather a sensation clue to the horse that something is going to happen---and for my mare who can tighten against more physical clues (stronger leg, whip taps), the air gap is a heads up to her that she finds very fair and motivating.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Sue B » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:13 pm

What piedmont is describing, I did with Lad and it was very effective. He was an extremely nervy horse who liked draped leg to hugging leg contact at all times, making it harder to communicate "forward now." He learned very quickly that if I suddenly withdrew leg contact, a kick would follow, and so he would redirect his attention to my request instead of whatever else he was focused on. Some horses need this "backward" way of thinking. He's the only one it worked well with.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:21 pm

Sue B wrote: Some horses need this "backward" way of thinking. He's the only one it worked well with.


That is really interesting that you described this with this word, as I often describe Emi as a very "backward thinking" horse! She is actually extremely sensitive and kind of nervy, too. I have not used this technique with other horses.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby khall » Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:56 pm

I also deal with this issue with Rip and his sister Gaila. They are just not that reactive to the GO aid. So I have done the chase them off, ask with light aid and if they do not respond chase them off with both leg and whip. If that is what I am working on then I just work on that, don't worry about where their head is where they go, just that they go.

I've also used TOH and trot off, TOH engages them and then the go from there building a pattern so they anticipate a bit.

I also use in hand work. With Rip the piaffe work has really helped this issue. He is finally learning to be quicker with the reaction to asking for more engagement in those hind legs. One way as mentioned in the CS clinic notes is rotation on the circle (blob said TOF but I use more SI on small circle) and ask for the hind leg to step with more activity. Finally now Rip is understanding and I am getting that snap of the hind leg. This is a difficult exercise for him, but I am now seeing rewards from it. Was working him yesterday on line to see what I have and Rip could go from half steps to medium trot where I am seeing power from the hind legs that has been lacking.

I have never boxed him with my legs, that strong of an aid would just piss him off and either shut him down or cause an explosion. I ride with a light but on leg, and in canter with leg a bit more on per Cedar.

Right now I am pretty happy with what I am seeing and feeling with Rip (Gaila I still need to get back on). I do have to keep my own internal energy up when riding these less goey horses. Unlike say like a forward thinking TB that you are sitting much quieter with. Why I really prefer a more sensitive horse with GO.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Fatcat » Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:05 pm

This is a new concept to me--the removal of leg = go. I drape my leg, and use a quick wiggle/nudge to mean "go". Luckily my current horse, a Morgan, is very forward, so "go" has never been a problem. The opposite is what we struggle with--rushing when tense. Keeping her smooth and flowing rather than tense is our goal. Forward is more me just releasing with a little nudge and she shoots off.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:12 pm

This article by Conrad Schumacher with Beth Baumert mentions some of what Blob referenced in her notes and seem related to what I'm exploring:
https://dressagetoday.com/instruction/s ... halt-25099

"A good rider drives mostly with his seat and his whole body, but his driving is invisible. When a rider sits well into the horse with swinging hips, he doesn’t need to use much leg. Riders who are stiff on the horse drive only with the legs because the body doesn’t work. Then the horse often becomes lazy because it’s not possible for the rider to drive as much as is necessary with only the legs.

I train my riders to put the horse in front of the aids with swinging hips. This develops the correct driving aids and guarantees that the horse’s movement is always influenced by the rider’s seat. To check the influence of your driving aids, ride the collected canter on a 20-meter circle. Then ask your horse for just three or four strides of medium canter without using your legs—use just your body to make the request."

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:44 am

As usual I have to disagree with the swinging seat driving aid.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:13 pm

Chisamba wrote:As usual I have to disagree with the swinging seat driving aid.


Okay. It would be interesting to read why. :-)

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:48 pm

piedmontfields wrote:
Chisamba wrote:As usual I have to disagree with the swinging seat driving aid.


Okay. It would be interesting to read why. :-) I am thinking disagreement may have to do with a "shoving" seat?

I'm mulling over other teaching I've had that the seat can drive, harmonize or hold (restrain)....

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:23 pm

Hmmmm I don't really use legs away or on this much- I can't recall that i have "air space" between my calf and horse, and i don't really kick my horse forward.
I also don't shove or move my seat back and forth. I (try) to find one spot for my seatbones. I use my abs for engagement and HH. I use % of weight in my thigh to mean different things.
Maybe I'm weird?

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:58 pm

Ryeissa wrote:Hmmmm I don't really use legs away or on this much- I can't recall that i have "air space" between my calf and horse, and i don't really kick my horse forward.
I also don't shove or move my seat back and forth. I (try) to find one spot for my seatbones. I use my abs for engagement and HH. I use % of weight in my thigh to mean different things.
Maybe I'm weird?


No, I don't think you're weird. I think this is how one is supposed to ride in ideal situations. And this is the way that I ride most horses (with my legs lightly draped, but certainly touching).

However, with a lazy horse, the suggestion is often to ride the air and actually ride leg off, so that a small amount of leg feels like a greater change from neutral. You're basically saving yourself form getting too tired. There are several quotes from trainers (I can dig them up if you'd like) about hot horses needing lots of leg and lazy ones needing little. It's a philosophy that makes sense to me. But it's something that is designed for horses that are on extremes of the spectrum.

I have two horses at the moment. One is sensitive, one is lazy. For the sensitive one, I ride with more leg on in 'neutral' than the average horse. He feels reassured when he has a clear, consistent amount of leg (sort of a nice hug). That way I can apply small changes in leg pressure without surprising him. With the lazy mare, the surprise is exactly what I'm after, so with her I do ride the air.

However, I sometimes ride my friend's horses and they are not extremes, they are horses that are somewhere in the middle (nice, lovely responsive but not overreactive horses) and so I ride them the way you've described.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:30 pm

I like to ride the abdomen up not the back down.

Let's assume you ride a 1200 lb. Horse. That's a reasonable big beast. And you weight 120 lbs, that's a fairly petite human. So without including the saddle that is 10 %.

Ok. Go on your hands and knees, have someone put a weight on your back that is 10 percent of your body weight. Now have then swing it back and forth. Do you want to lower your hips and speed up, or hollow your back and slow down.

To use my seat for medium canter I simply lighten my seat to create space for the energy to flow thru after the half halt.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:56 pm

blob wrote: I have two horses at the moment. One is sensitive, one is lazy. For the sensitive one, I ride with more leg on in 'neutral' than the average horse. He feels reassured when he has a clear, consistent amount of leg (sort of a nice hug). That way I can apply small changes in leg pressure without surprising him. With the lazy mare, the surprise is exactly what I'm after, so with her I do ride the air.


Good description. I have a horse who is *both* Ms. Jekyll (sludgy, in a physically stuck way) and Ms. Hyde (quick and sensitive): We start with the very light leg/air gap surprise as needed. But once she is warmed up, she generally does well with a very present leg (much closer to a hug), so that I don't surprise her.

To those of you who ride only Goldilocks horses (right in the middle), this must seem crazy. :lol: And for those with way more years and horses under your belt, adjusting your aids to the horse is probably so obvious to do that you don't even notice it! lol

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby demi » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:40 pm

From the article (and quoted by Piedmont):

“A good rider drives mostly with his seat and his whole body, but his driving is invisible. “

So, to me, the swinging hips and driving seat must be in complete harmony with the horse, and wouldn’t cause him to hollow and slow down. Swing hips and driving seats that are out of sync with the horse, are very visible, and look painful. Good dancers can do some extremely swinging moves together, but because they are in perfect harmony, it isn’t painful for one or the other.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby demi » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:31 pm

Communication is so difficult sometimes. Words can be confusing, and I wonder if we are often talking about the same things but don’t know it because the words aren’t right. Or something.

Chisamba wrote:I like to ride the abdomen up not the back down. ....

To use my seat for medium canter I simply lighten my seat to create space for the energy to flow thru after the half halt.


To me this sounds like the half halt “step 2” from the article:

Step 2: Bring Your Horse Back
Bring your horse back first by sitting deep and making yourself very tall in the saddle. .....At this moment, it is very important that you don’t drive your horse anymore—just sit deep and keep your wrists supple. ...... Your horse will become lighter because he understands that you want him to come back, but you’ll need to stay active when you make yourself very tall.

A couple of things:

When I make myself very tall in the saddle, I think that I am riding with my “abdomen up”. So maybe the article is saying the same thing as “riding with the abdomen up.

And, where he says “it is very important that you don’t drive anymore a (at this moment)”, is this the same as “lightening the seat”? And he is saying (I think) that the driving seat has to be used with great care...which would prevent one using a driving seat to the point of make the horse hollow and slow down.

Just thoughts.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby demi » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:37 pm

I edited the above post but it doesn’t show tha I edited it. I dont know how to make that happen

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:43 pm

I think perhaps the word 'driving' is misleading because it implies an aggressive forward shove. But I'm not sure that's what's really meant.

If I'm doing a downward transition from trot, my seat does not say 'stop trotting' it says 'start walking' or 'halt' depending on what I want. Similarly an upward from walk, my seat says 'trot' or 'canter' depending on what I want. To me this makes it a driving seat, in the sense that it is dictating/driving the next action rather than stopping the previous action. But it does not mean my seat is wildly humping and bumping around (at least I hope it is not).

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:55 pm

A driving seat has been clearly defined:

A passive seat is one that follows the horse's movement perfectly. This encourages the horse to continue on in the same manner. If the rider wants to lengthen the stride, he should use a driving seat. The driving seat is similar to that used when pushing a swing higher or like polishing the saddle from back to front.
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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:41 pm

I have said to dresseur numerous times that maybe it us because I am heavy strong and muscular but all of my riding experience has taught me to be kind with my seat and back.

Even professionals who are far more experienced and educated than I am, I dont consider their word irrefutable because their skill and the talent of their horses is different from my experience . It's my bug. I've seen so many , even successful riders. Interrupt their connection with seat aids. I am constantly warning against driving seats.

As always if you dont like my advice, ignore it.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby demi » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:06 pm

I’m not trying to argue, but to clarify my own thinking. And also to help in how I communicate on this board.

When I think of a driving seat, it isn’t like “polishing the saddle”. And maybe it’s just a problem of my own, but I don’t like that discription of a driving seat. I don’t think it’s possible to “polish the saddle” invisibly. To me it infers an “aggressive forward shove”, like Blob said about the possible misconception of “driving seat”.

I am beginning to think the term “driving seat” is disliked the way some people dislike the term “submission”. It’s understandable that we may dislike certain terms just from the context we first learn them. I can understand why Chisamba doesn’t like the term “driving seat”, especially since I have the same dislike of “polishing the seat” ;)

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:39 pm

demi wrote:I’m not trying to argue, but to clarify my own thinking. And also to help in how I communicate on this board.

When I think of a driving seat, it isn’t like “polishing the saddle”. And maybe it’s just a problem of my own, but I don’t like that discription of a driving seat. I don’t think it’s possible to “polish the saddle” invisibly. To me it infers an “aggressive forward shove”, like Blob said about the possible misconception of “driving seat”.

I am beginning to think the term “driving seat” is disliked the way some people dislike the term “submission”. It’s understandable that we may dislike certain terms just from the context we first learn them. I can understand why Chisamba doesn’t like the term “driving seat”, especially since I have the same dislike of “polishing the seat” ;)


you will chuckle but i also dislike the term submission, even though i understand that most people use it correctly, it is because there are a few who use it to the adverse that i dislike it.

to me a driving seat is one that applies weight and pressure . to me it is not possible to drive with the seat without engaging and pushing, again, communication being what it is, i do not believe dancers push each other around, actually when i learned to waltz my partner pushed me around and it was inelegant, then i danced with the dance master who guided me and it was pleasant. sorry that i relate things to myself but being empathetic is how i function in riding.

the talented horses of this generation can look fabulous without engaging the back. I have never had such a horse, i have always had to really focus on keeping the horses back supple to have any slight chance at elegant gaits. Especially Kimba. so again, perhaps i am biased a certain way

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:04 am

I aim to have an effective seat. I want my seat to help regulate tempo and tell the horse what I want and what is coming next. But I don't ever think of my seat as polishing the saddle, nor do I want it to. That does not align with the idea of invisible aids.

As a side note, I will say that I also really dislike the term submission. It's my least favorite score from the dressage collectives and I'd much rather see that renamed as "harmony".

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:44 pm

If you make your own definition it's ok, but in the context of classical German riding it means a specific hip motion/pushing the swing. I do'nt ride like this but I know the context.

Also as a "flopperton", I tend to wiggle and have a very "bendy waist" so I am the opposite of Chisamba and need more poise and strength, I try to move as little as possible. My horse is also wiggly and supple so if I drove him this much we would be more tense.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:54 pm

Chisamba wrote: the talented horses of this generation can look fabulous without engaging the back. I have never had such a horse, i have always had to really focus on keeping the horses back supple to have any slight chance at elegant gaits. Especially Kimba. so again, perhaps i am biased a certain way


Your comment made me think of why this subject is at the heart of our work now. My horse and I could look pleasant and capable up to a certain point (like competent but not powerful 2nd level work). But we need to garner all available power for harder work. I'm sure more athletic horses (and their talented riders) could cruise through 3rd and 4th level work and maybe not hit a wall until trying to do good work at PSG or even GP.

I also like your reminders to sit lightly, and watching transitions to more collected canter last night I noticed that my method echoed your description.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:16 pm

I think we forget how subtle an aid can be. I breath out when I do downward transitions. On occasions when I have been using my horse for a lesson to teach lateral movements the rider has sighed and got a downward transition. Or been breathing heavily and complained " she keeps stopping"

If your horse can feel a breath, how much driving do you really need to do with your seat? Less is more
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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:17 pm

piedmontfields wrote:
Chisamba wrote: the talented horses of this generation can look fabulous without engaging the back. I have never had such a horse, i have always had to really focus on keeping the horses back supple to have any slight chance at elegant gaits. Especially Kimba. so again, perhaps i am biased a certain way


Your comment made me think of why this subject is at the heart of our work now. My horse and I could look pleasant and capable up to a certain point (like competent but not powerful 2nd level work). But we need to garner all available power for harder work. I'm sure more athletic horses (and their talented riders) could cruise through 3rd and 4th level work and maybe not hit a wall until trying to do good work at PSG or even GP.

I also like your reminders to sit lightly, and watching transitions to more collected canter last night I noticed that my method echoed your description.


I don't think it has much to do with athletic power or natural talent. Teaching real collection is hard, most trainers in my opinion can't do it well. JMHO

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:18 pm

Chisamba wrote:I think we forget how subtle an aid can be. I breath out when I do downward transitions. On occasions when I have been using my horse for a lesson to teach lateral movements the rider has sighed and got a downward transition. Or been breathing heavily and complained " she keeps stopping"

If your horse can feel a breath, how much driving do you really need to do with your seat? Less us more


yeah, I was making my horse mad by doing too much. It might just depend on your situation. I get less tired -bonus!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:05 pm

I know this thread has morphed a bit, but my understanding of driving has shifted pretty dramatically over the last few weeks. I think that the driving seat/back has a time and a place, but in my case, I was driving all the time (primarily at the canter) and wondering why horses were getting heavy in my hand and were always feeling a bit stuck. But, I do feel like I had to go through all the iterations because I am very long in the torso and prone to breaking apart/wiggling. How we got to figuring out wth I was doing is a funny story that involves me riding Gala in a snaffle instead of her usual double bridle.

So, where I'm at now - I sit centered and balanced. On trained/strong horses, I sit fully, but not heavily - on less strong horses, I put a bit more weight on my thighs so that I can sit more lightly. My body is knitted together, yet supple - as Chisamba said to me the other night. Jello sits on a spoon better than an egg. If I want to apply a driving aid, I don't at this point start swinging my seat more (which is what I used to do, and it caused me leaning forward a bit and tightening the thighs). Instead, I engage the very, very low abs and stiffen slightly. If the horse doesn't come forward, I use a leg aid, and if that doesn't work, a sharp, quick whip aid. It's incredibly nuanced and all the issues that I've had over the past several months have vanished. To do a downward, I exhale, and close my thighs. What's odd to me is that my regular riding position feels very sloppy right now - like Jello (which is an odd metaphor, because I'm not wiggling or moving about, but that's what it feels like. So, again, in Chisamba's words, jello/not jello and back again. In the blink of an eye. But, what's VERY interesting, is in the jello moments - I'm more still than I was before - no ankle shake etc.

Anyway, different strokes for different people and ponies, but, that's where I'm at. I definitely don't drop my seat down and grind the back down when I drive forward. It's way more internal than that.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:19 pm

Dressur - you said it better than I could :) and I agree, as always.
Too much pushing made my horse go on his forehand and gee, I wonder why collection was so hard?

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:26 pm

Rye, it's funny, because in the past, I had to expend more effort because I wasn't connected - at some point, my mechanics got better, and I didn't adapt to the change of feel in my body. So all of a sudden, I went from decent rides, to everyone landing in my hands, and transitions NOT getting lighter and lighter and I couldn't figure it out. When I mentioned to Andrea that I felt that Maya (her newly minted GP horse) was heavy for me in the canter, she decided that we needed to get to the bottom of it. So, I got popped on Gala, in a snaffle and was told that if I drove too hard, I'd end up in the next county. She was right, I got my arms ripped out of my sockets until I figured it out.

I mentioned this to Chisamba, but I think that it's sad that saying something like that is taboo because any failings on the rider's part is now being called abuse. But, I'm admitting it. I got my arms ripped out and I did my fair amount of pulling back until I figured that all the power was something that I was asking for. When I dialed it back, she became light and the work was lovely, and we could stop on a dime, no pulling from either of us. What I need to figure out now is how to stop driving the second I start going to flying changes.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:08 pm

Dresseur wrote: If I want to apply a driving aid, I don't at this point start swinging my seat more (which is what I used to do, and it caused me leaning forward a bit and tightening the thighs). Instead, I engage the very, very low abs and stiffen slightly. If the horse doesn't come forward, I use a leg aid, and if that doesn't work, a sharp, quick whip aid.


This is a very helpful description. Thank you!

The whole thread is interesting. A lot of the work for me is on sharpening up my timing (abs, leg, whip if needed).

I'm also remembering Suzanne von Dietze's teaching on different breaths (for lengthenings, collections, different horses).

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:47 pm

piedmontfields wrote:
Dresseur wrote: If I want to apply a driving aid, I don't at this point start swinging my seat more (which is what I used to do, and it caused me leaning forward a bit and tightening the thighs). Instead, I engage the very, very low abs and stiffen slightly. If the horse doesn't come forward, I use a leg aid, and if that doesn't work, a sharp, quick whip aid.


This is a very helpful description. Thank you!

The whole thread is interesting. A lot of the work for me is on sharpening up my timing (abs, leg, whip if needed).


Yes, this is ultimately the struggle for me as well. I think what is also hard is that I can go through this sequence and it does not seem to carry over. I seem to need the sharp, quick whip aid at the beginning of every ride several times before my horse realizes i'm not giving up. I got this system to carry over last summer for a few months of really good and productive work and now it seems like I need something different/bigger or perhaps I'm losing my consistency or my timing.

In another thread, Exvet mentioned riding out in trails getting her horse more forward. And that definitely helps. Sadly I don't have access to trails easily, but can still make the effort for field trips. This winter has just been too wet for that though. Hopefully soon things will dry up and I can at least ride out in the pastures to just get us out of the arena.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:59 pm

Dresseur wrote:Rye, it's funny, because in the past, I had to expend more effort because I wasn't connected - at some point, my mechanics got better, and I didn't adapt to the change of feel in my body. So all of a sudden, I went from decent rides, to everyone landing in my hands, and transitions NOT getting lighter and lighter and I couldn't figure it out. When I mentioned to Andrea that I felt that Maya (her newly minted GP horse) was heavy for me in the canter, she decided that we needed to get to the bottom of it. So, I got popped on Gala, in a snaffle and was told that if I drove too hard, I'd end up in the next county. She was right, I got my arms ripped out of my sockets until I figured it out.

I mentioned this to Chisamba, but I think that it's sad that saying something like that is taboo because any failings on the rider's part is now being called abuse. But, I'm admitting it. I got my arms ripped out and I did my fair amount of pulling back until I figured that all the power was something that I was asking for. When I dialed it back, she became light and the work was lovely, and we could stop on a dime, no pulling from either of us. What I need to figure out now is how to stop driving the second I start going to flying changes.


Yeah, training is training. I have had to realize my failings when trainers ride my horse. I realize how I let things occur that is not helpful.
For me, as you know, I have to place my body correctly and carry weight in my thigh. This allows the horse to be more balanced and straight as I'm laterally and longitudunally straight myself and can help the horse vs hinder- for example opening my outside hip back helps create a good rein connection. So a basic drive and kick doesn't work if you don't understand that crookedness prevents forward action.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:21 pm

The jelly butt, eggshell butt, jelly butt method of seat aid was taught to me by Peter Bowker, so it's not mine, I just use it because it still makes sense to me. It was particularly emphasized in tempi changes to make sure there was a moment of jelly butt in each change to avoid pushing too much horse into the bridle.

Dressuer and I were discussing it in message cause we often exchange ideas.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:26 pm

If you're willing, please share more about jelly, eggshell and other butts! This sounds very helpful for translating methods to well...the butt!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:37 pm

Chisamba wrote:The jelly butt, eggshell butt, jelly butt method of seat aid was taught to me by Peter Bowker, so it's not mine, I just use it because it still makes sense to me. It was particularly emphasized in tempi changes to make sure there was a moment of jelly butt in each change to avoid pushing too much horse into the bridle.

Dressuer and I were discussing it in message cause we often exchange ideas.


Which usually ends in Chisamba saying that she told me so, or that she knew I'd figure it out eventually :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Also, the not going jelly butt in the tempis and pushing too much horse in the bridle, guilty as charged. :oops: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:52 pm

yeah, this all sounds....intriguing. never heard those terms. LOL Please expand.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:59 pm

Since the original teaching came to Chisamba from Peter Bowker, she will have more context behind the explanation, but I can try to explain what it means to me.

So, when you are first learning to ride - you are a bit stiff, trying to hold your position in a similar way to that of a dancer who is first learning the proper position at the barre. Holding this position takes effort, but eventually it becomes second nature and the rider becomes more supple, as a dancer becomes more supple over time. As a rider gets more effective, particularly if they have been taught to knit the core together, and particularly if they are on a horse that has been trained to respond to these weight and seat aids, the back and seat can be used as a weapon. Meaning, a rider can have great leverage in their body, simply by tensing their muscles. The longer the torso, the greater the lever. So, if you tense your muscles (core, shoulders back, tight thigh, you can literally drive a horse into your hand and drive the horses back down if you are an effective (meaning knit together) rider.

So, once a certain level of effectiveness/knit-togetherness is reached, the rider needs to start trying less... and do less. So, this feels sloppy as all hell to someone like me, who kept a certain measure of stiffness in their body. This is jello. There is stability, but suppleness to mirror or direct any movement of the horse. If you need to drive, the rider can stiffen for a moment, and become, not jello. A certain tensile strength imparts the INTENT of pushing forward - and the horse responds to this. But the rider has to go back to that easy supple movement after that aid has been given. It's like if you put yourself nose to sternum to crotch on a sliding barn door, and push the door forward without any part of your body leaving the door as it slides forward - this is the not jello feeling. Otherwise, you are perfectly balanced, but relaxed - but ready to act depending on what you feel under your seat. An effective/knit together, but tense or stiff rider, will almost certainly be constantly driving horse into the hand.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:51 pm

interesting- this is probably why when I learned about keeping more weight in my thigh has really helped me from pushing down too much- and yes, I have a long torso.....interesting.....I might have to read this a few more times- thanks for the comments.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:51 pm

And eggshell butt??

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:39 pm

piedmontfields wrote:And eggshell butt??


Peter knew l learned through metaphors.

The idea is to remember to have a completely relaxed phase is each seat aid. So jelly butt, relax and soften all of the buttocks and hip muscles.

Egg butt or eggshell butt , make your outer muscles like an eggshell, but remain liquid with good form internally. This is the "driving" phase, it does not include swinging, sweeping, or losing liquidity. It us simply a matter of engaging, which is a very clear contrast from the jelly phase.

If you stand in the karate horse position and go from jelly to egg, you will see that the result is to slightly lift the seat which makes room for the back to come thru, unlike the driving seat which presses down.

https://goo.gl/images/SAnBYv

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 pm

Thanks for this explanation!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:49 pm

I definitely love that metaphor.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:09 am

I am totally going to have to read that metaphor a few more times before I get it! But you all are so helpful. I am generally more tight as a human and as a rider, so finding the jelly is useful. Thinking of an eggshell makes me tighten/tense, so I don't think I'm getting that description yet.

Is eggshell = driving phase?
Is jelly = motoring (horse cantering on with quiet rider) phase?

Today, I had my second lesson with a new to me trainer and forward was no issue. As she said, "You did your homework!" :D

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:40 pm

Chisamba- isn't it interesting that real progress in getting the horse forward comes from working on the seat? Its not about the leg aids, really. Take away what hinders the horse from moving and you don't have to "kick".


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