Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

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Chisamba
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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:07 pm

Ryeissa wrote: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".


I do think it's a combination, everything is co ordination but I really dislike to see or have to "kick" every stride

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:28 pm

Chisamba wrote:
Ryeissa wrote: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".


I do think it's a combination, everything is co ordination but I really dislike to see or have to "kick" every stride


yeah, I guess my thinking here is much like contact issues. I have found it's good to investigate the rein and leg responses, but most of the time those are secondary issues due to something else where we are hindering the horse. I have found for me, my contact and forward concepts improve not by working on it or using more leg or hand but aligning me & the horse and fixing my seat. It seems like I always end up with super contact and a nicely forward horse that I don't have to use any leg on. JMHO, my horse is very reactive and would not tolerate a lot of leg and hand, so he responds better to other ways of solving the problem.
The other day I had an issue with leaning on the left rein, but it was a problem that originated in the horses' hips, had I just done more rein to soften it would not get to the root cause.
Or horses that refuse jumps but when the rider fixes the pelvic alignment they go over fine- it was never a leg issue.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:30 pm

Rye, I agree that focus on the horses hind end solves a lot, including a lot of bridle and straightness issues. You need enough forward to funnel the horse, and I find that the more I work on myself, the easier it is to listen to the horse. I think where people get into trouble is that they forget that the horse still has to follow the rein and yield to it, or conversely, they make everything a rein issue. But, in the horses that are behind the leg, I find most of the issues are solved simply by getting the horse to go forward, and then to Chisamba's point, making sure that it's an "honest" forward, and that you don't have to beg or kick every stride.

Just to further the conversation, and I sincerely don't mean to have hijacked this thread, but I had a fantastic lesson where we talked through these feelings. I was on a horse, who while she's very highly trained, it's not correct - she flips leads from the spur, they're not really controllable, she doesn't have gears in the gaits, and as a result, likes to boom around in a big leg flinging trot or flat, stiff canter. I've been getting good feels from her, and since I'm able to "feel" the progression in training, it's been very educational. In any case, we worked on gears - going from soft jello to egg in the trot (thinking passage up the trot to make it a bit smaller for a few strides, and then soft to let it back out), and in the canter, we worked on the same - but from canter on the spot to regular canter, trying to feel the threshold in my body since she has a hair trigger with the collections. Too much egg (tense up too much) and you get the playground horse on the single spring feeling - this thing: https://www.playdale.co.uk/playground/spring-horse.html

I didn't have much trouble with that - but when we went to changes, I collected the canter too much - allowing her to freeze and flip. So I needed to be softer in my body. I got the canter, but then the changes them selves kept flipping harshly over, as if she froze and then switched legs as quickly as she could. What I realized when I complained about my seat being hard on her back, what that MY seat was hard!!! I was tensing every muscle as I was changing. I don't know why I didn't feel that before. I had gone from doing a set up from the change which should have been very subtle to going hard throughout my body, rather than keeping my butt and thigh soft - that damn egg again!! So, I tried my best to just do a tiny set up, but keep everything (as Andrea admonished) in slow motion and soft - and low and behold, her changes changed! It was incredibly eye opening!

Right after that, I rode Gala, and when I got to the changes, I started my same MO, getting hard throughout my body like an iron rod. The second that i stayed soft, and didn't SET UP with CAPITAL LETTERS, the changes were so soft, and so easy and right on my timing. I could have cried it was such a different feeling. I wish that I had figured that out a year ago, six months ago. So, from here on out. Egg and Jello it is... or whatever analogy works. The key for me is that I engage way, way down between my pelvis wings which enables the rest of my body to have a softer feel. Then I can isolate - do I need a bit more thigh for support, is the horse coming into my hand so I need to firm my back up to resist it's lean. It's very nuanced and it's going to take a while to stop forgetting to not stiffen my whole damn body.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:43 pm

So, so excited for you Dresseur! What wonderful progress.
And thanks to everyone for all the interesting thoughts and discussion.

I've been talking to my instructor lately about finding the right balance of needing response and reaction right from the start without expecting too much right from the start. I know my mare needs me to come out with the attitude of 'oh yes, you will' and to be really consistent in my expectations of getting a response right away. However, that doesn't mean I need her to start out in medium trot. Similarly, my instructor has wanted me to encourage more uphill balance from the start, but that does not mean she needs to be in a collected frame right away. In theory i KNOW all of this, but that balance is really, really challenging for me. It's like I only know how to come out guns blazing or if I go in and ride how I would like to, slowly warming up to the work, then I don't maintain the sharpness and the expectation of response NOW.

I've tried thinking about just focusing on reactions to leg in a long contact, but then we end up in this weird cycle where she starts to pick to either be forward or to be soft. Because once again, it's like I can't find the middle ground.

This for me is all very much a growing pain of trying to ride a way that is different from how I have ridden most of my life. I am also confident that learnign to find this middle ground will make me a much, much better rider over all. But right now it feels like an impossible struggle. And I tend to leave my rides either feeling completely ineffective or like I have been unfair.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:11 pm

But right now it feels like an impossible struggle. And I tend to leave my rides either feeling completely ineffective or like I have been unfair.

Blob, I can commiserate. And, IMO, this is completely normal, and you will start to figure things out.

I'm sure that you and your instructor have discussed this ad nauseam, but, forward isn't fast. You do need to frame the forward. It's ok if when you ask in a big or sharp way that they may jet forward a few steps, but, then it needs to settle. What helped me when I was overcoming this particular part of rider education was thinking that yes, I do need contact, but you have to make sure that it's not locked, and it's not pulling. Ask once and make sure that you don't just throw the reins away, think that you want a handshake feel. You can have a comfortable connection and the horse can be forward within that connection. So, test it, do circles, refresh every short side, shorten it, lengthen it, ask for a bit more power for a stride or 3. And, if you don't like the response - insist!

I totally get the "horse ultimatum" you can have this or this, but not both - been there, done that lol. Consistency is key, don't give up on what you want. You will feel like you are nagging at first, but the horse will get the memo. Often, if you go for broke on forward, you get running and leaning which is why you lose the softness... so don't just let them run down the long side - leg yields, circles, break it up so that you can use exercises and bend to make the point for softness, and don't go for speed alone - go for feeling a response. The balance will change as you add figures and lateral work and keep the connection.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:22 pm

Very interesting posts!

Just an update from my last lesson. I did an abbreviated form of our slower "dial it up" warm-up (it was cold and windy, I was stiff, mare felt sludgy). But then I just went to asking for better working trot over a few minutes and she was willing to go there (using the air gap aid as needed a few times). Canter on our harder side had some organization issues (mostly me and my timing), but once started it wasn't bad either.

The comments I got from the instructor throughout the lesson were: Consistently good balance, very good forward energy (which she saw as a huge difference from the prior lesson), good canter energy and straightness, and very very consistent connection and very nice soft neck and high poll. In contrast, I felt like it was kind a "eh" ride where my mare was fairly sludgy throughout. Not bad, not great. The trot work got a lot of compliments from a wise friend who watched, too, so I'll believe it even though I didn't feel it. So it was a great reminder that (my) feeling is not necessarily correct or informative! This is why good help on the ground is so helpful. We did some of the best stretching trot ever at the end of the lesson, so I take that we did something useful in the work.

Blob, I admit that beyond long rein walking at the beginning (if mare is not terrified of something on that day), I save my most of stretching for long rein walk breaks between work and stretching trot at the end. I may do some deeper trot and canter at the beginning, but only if it doesn't interfere with forward energy. Otherwise, I have the mare in at least a decent working shape during our sessions. I will note that I simply don't get running or leaning because 1. I can't tolerate it, so I address it immediately (ex. trot halt trot) and 2. My mare is really pretty balanced and able to carry herself without falling on me/forehand.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:34 pm

Thanks, Dresseur, these are all good reminders and all real struggles! ha!

I put my mare on the lunge yesterday and she did not look great--tight through the shoulder and back. So, I think we might need to also take a step back as I suspect she might be sore. So, she'll get a few days off and then I'll do a few more lunging sessions and some pole days before building back to our work.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:53 pm

I fully endorse making sure that there isn't soreness, and giving time off... but, when you longe again, make sure she's forward on the longe as well - when horses are behind the aids there too, they can appear short and stiff in their movements because they aren't moving freely forward. If she is behind you in the work, chances are she's behind you in the longing. And, for the record, if a horse is the type to zoom around in the longing, that doesn't necessarily mean they are forward.

Piedmont, that's an excellent report! IMO if you got the stretching better, and the connection and everything else was better, it sounds like you're on the right track. The look and the feel often don't match - but if you continue to feel like she's "sludgy", maybe get your instructor to feel it or if she's not one to get on, then experiment a bit. But imo, it feels sludgy and nagging until they truly get the memo. Oh, and make sure that the neck isn't too low... if it is, you'll be working on cross purposes.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:54 pm

http://www.dressageheadlines.com/articl ... ry-clayton

the strength of its sling muscles are often asymmetrical on the left and right sides and that plays a significant role in its crookedness. Riders, therefore, must focus on teaching the horse to use and develop the muscles on its weaker side to make them more symmetrical for balance and self-carriage. In time, the horse will begin to balance in a more upright position without falling in or out of the turns."

^^^ this type of work helped me see how to get energy but maintain the carrying. I used to not realize I was having the horse over-rotate down the sternum as a consequence of forward.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby khall » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:43 pm

Rye very interesting article and confirms what Mark always said in that as the horse begins to engage their slings they will get narrower across the withers. I found this to be true of both Rip and Gaila. I have a wither tracing from them when they were younger (pretty much identical tracings for them) and now Rip's tracing is 1" narrower on each side, Gaila is 1/2" narrower on each side. Rip's entire conformation has changed so much with training. He stands square with hind end engaged abdomen engaged and withers up. This from a horse whose original conformation was mutton withered, low set neck and rather cow hocked. Gaila has not changed quite as much but she already had a better set neck than Rip did.


The egg/jello imaginary does not really work for me. I have always been drawn to gymnastics and how the gymnasts look just before their tumbling run. Contained power or that positive tension dressage riders always talk about. I don't have the problem of being too tight or rigid in my riding or driving too hard with my seat. That was one of Mark's corner stones in his teachings, being soft and light in our riding. Breathing was also a focus of Mark's which came from his study of Tai Chi. My focus in riding is to feel the horse's back and how they connect to our seat. If you ride too harshly with your seat you will block the back. If you ride with absolute elevation you will drop the horse's back. IMO it is way harder to keep your equitation when riding the energy efficient horses. Those who ride goey horses can sit with more care and sensitivity. That is my preferred ride! Unfortunately neither Rip nor Gaila are that type of ride. But training does improve their sensitivity and willingness to go, but it is definitely something that I have to stay on top of and be clear about every ride. I do fully agree with Chisamba that often less is more. As in less aids can often be more effective than too strong an aid.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ponichiwa » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:49 pm

On top of the good thoughts here, remember that there is a strength component required to be soft, supple, and also powerful. Anyone who has taken a barre class can commiserate! So your horse may be compensating for fitness (or muscle-soreness). If you are asking for increased engagement and power simultaneously, consider more frequent walk breaks to give your horse a chance to recover.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:59 pm

Dresseur wrote:I fully endorse making sure that there isn't soreness, and giving time off... but, when you longe again, make sure she's forward on the longe as well - when horses are behind the aids there too, they can appear short and stiff in their movements because they aren't moving freely forward. If she is behind you in the work, chances are she's behind you in the longing. And, for the record, if a horse is the type to zoom around in the longing, that doesn't necessarily mean they are forward.



Fully agreed. Luckily one of the few things I do well is my ground work. I'm pretty good at getting a horse to work through correctly on the lunge. Even at her best, MM can be a little behind the leg when I first get on. So, when i utilize lunging, it's to help get her correctly forward. My ground work is much better in terms of timing and skill than my ridden work, so I can usually fix problems on the ground that I cannot under saddle.

but yes her looking terrible on the lunge the other day was in fact because she was not moving freely. But our lunging work is something we are usually successful with even when riding is a mess, it's a routine she's used to. So, to me her unwillingness to move through and freely on the lunge even after a good bit of time spent trying to work through things that normally take no time tells me that she is not feeling 100% in her body in some way or another.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:46 am

Enjoy the ride.
Last edited by Chisamba on Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby khall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:45 am

Chisamba I used to be a gymnast, you absolutely cannot be tense in order to do a tumbling run. You need power, suppleness, shock absorbing but not tension, that is how you injure yourself. It is that controlled power that I try to emulate when riding my energy efficient horses. You also are riding a very different type of horse than what this thread is about, from your own posts. Kimba wants to run naturally, Rip and Gaila not so much. They are more inclined to leap around than to run forward, they have jumping lines and are WBs so I attribute their MO to their genetics.

Chisamba I'm not quite sure how to take your post re my videos. You come across as insulting. No I do not ride with tension or a pushing seat. I learned to ride with more lightness with Mark. I don't cause tension in horses when I ride them nor do I push them out of balance and onto my hands, but I also ride very energy efficient and balanced horses who do not have this inclination. When Gaila came back from the WD trainer, the trainer very obviously rode with a strong pushing seat which caused Gaila to lock up in her back. This mare has the easiest trot to sit on ever, yet just the 2 1/2 months that trainer locked her up in the back. When my holistic vet came to treat her with acupuncture and chiro, she found out how out of wack in her back she was. It has taken me a bit to get her where I wanted her again in how she feels in her back.

As I mentioned in the post just above it is difficult to keep your equitation when riding an energy efficient horse. I know I end up screwing around with my position in my effort to keep the non forward horse forward. I do agree with Rye that focusing on our equitation/position does help to give clarity to our aids which is important in order to ride with lightness and softness even on the energy efficient ones. It does take time though to get to that point and we often have to ride some ugly before the better picture emerges.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:12 am

It was intended in a positive way , I think a relaxed seat is a huge positive. from the beginning of the thread I have consistently advocated against a driving seat. How can it be insulting to compliment you on your relaxed seat.

I was never a gymnast, but to watch, gymnasts look like they are about to try the hardest thing they have ever done. If you have done it, I can understand finding the similarity.
Last edited by Chisamba on Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:26 am

Do your thing, enjoy your ride.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby khall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:28 am

I sincerely apologize to you Chisamba, it was not clear to me when you referenced my videos that there was a compliment in there. Thank you for that compliment.

Because of my flexibility (I could have been a contortionist I had so much flexibility) I need to ride with a bit more positive tension in my seat which is why I've always gone to the visual of a gymnast. I also tend to hollow my back because of that flexibility (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... =3&theater) this is me as a preteen probably 12 or so.

I found a book called Zen and Horseback riding which explains the illiopsoas and how to access it and train it. Engaging my psoas helps with the pelvic tilt. Riding is hard, riding horses that don't have that innate forwardness is harder. I am much more used to riding these type than the more forward type (though their dam was not an energy conservationist) I am hoping Joplin will be a different ride. Her dam was.

edited:
When I rode in Spain the two things I heard the most there was shorten your reins and go more forward. Yes more forward on an Andalusian, even the very sensitive gelding I rode. I remember the first ride on Rip when I came back, he was like zoooomm! I think I need to revisit that a bit. I do on the lunge line and am getting some really nice medium trots out of it. It is hard though when you ride a horse whose reaction to go can be wee leap up instead of wee forward.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:28 pm

khall wrote:I found a book called Zen and Horseback riding which explains the illiopsoas and how to access it and train it.


yeah that is a good book.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:39 am

I think changing is hard. I look at my videos and my riding errors are far more consistent than change!!

changing, changing is really hard. No wonder the SRS likes to take greenies and put them on the longe for 6 months. Lol.


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