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.
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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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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Koolkat » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:42 pm

I read CS's comments somewhat differently, particularly in the context of his circle example and asking the horse to go to medium for a few steps. I always thought the horse's strides (covering ground, rotation of hips) were reflected in the rider's hip swing. So you would swing much more in your hips as the horse lengthened stride - or more correctly the other way around as the horse is being trained to follow your body.

As to that quote from "Dressage Academy", I had a conversation with Paul Belasik many years ago about the driving seat/swing analogy. He said "wrong", and over time I came to understand why = Excellent way to drive the horse's back down. You have to give the horse's back room to let that energy/movement come through, the horse can't do it when you're mashing down on his back/spine with your seat/butt. It puts the horse on the forehand/splits in half. The source of my question was a quote from Museler's "Riding Logic", PB speculated it was a translation error. Regardless, the swing analogy is incorrect in so far as it often seems to get interpreted.

I never expected any horse to come out "forward". Always used warmup and lots of transitions to achieve this. I have seen/used some hand galloping before getting down to work used also. Needless to say, it helps if you understand what is going on for the horse.

I used to ride another's Friesian horse that was the most non-forward horse I have ever ridden. When I got off of him, it was my abs/core that felt like they'd had a hard workout, not my butt/legs.

A physical response to the leg is non-negotiable, but that's a lot easier than "forward".

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:45 pm

Chisamba wrote: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.



Yes, i feel this very much. Change is hard. So is changing a pattern in a relationship (I'm talking about horses here, but it applies to other relationships too :lol: ). There are patterns and habits that both my horse and I have that are very much a product of each other, which is why it's good for both of us to have a mix up sometimes.

I think often, in an effort to change my own habits and riding, I swing to the opposite extreme, which also isn't right. If my instructor tells me i'm sitting too far right one week, he's likely to find me sitting too far left the next time. For me, it's not just that change is hard (which it is), but finding balance in in the change is especially hard.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby heddylamar » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:27 am

I've been avidly following this thread and thinking how my seat and aids effect change. The eggshell and jello butt imagery really works for me. I ride too much in eggshell, and need to learn to use jello for more than lateral work and transitions. No wonder Mom's otherwise lazy-bones Appy always had yee-haw youngster moments with me, and not her -- I drive with every stride! :oops:

I ride with a fairly light draped leg on the outside, but the inside leg, where I'm asking for bend, needs to lay off the caffeine. My older mare doesn't have much barrel under my leg, so I "learned" to curl my leg up when asking her to bend ... I'm pretty good at breaking habits by focusing on that thing + repetition + some mind trick (in this case, sink into my hip, thigh, calf, heel -- basically make like melted cheese). It's getting better. I'm more mindful than not now, so it should click soon.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Sue B » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:33 pm

Somewhere you guys lost me...Are you guys equating a swinging seat with a driving seat? I've always seen the "driving seat" as the one in which the person sits somewhat behind the vertical and pushes forward and up with his/her pelvis. So now I'm lost...sorry. :oops:

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:58 pm

Sue no, a swinging seat doesn't have to be a driving seat - often times, seats that just swing along without any core control can be fairly ineffective actually. And, a driving seat doesn't need to be leaning back. If you really tense your muscles and sit heavy - you can drive like hell and be perfectly aligned. Riding this way can push the horse's back down and actually separate the front from the back.

The way to get a sense for this kind of drive is to put yourself crotch/sternum/nose to a barn door or stall door that slides, and then push that door forward with your core. The trick is to not take any of your frontline off the door... so it all moves in one piece. If you engage your body like this on a horse, you have A LOT of leverage without leaning forward or back.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Koolkat » Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:57 pm

Dresseur wrote:The way to get a sense for this kind of drive is to put yourself crotch/sternum/nose to a barn door or stall door that slides, and then push that door forward with your core. The trick is to not take any of your frontline off the door... so it all moves in one piece. If you engage your body like this on a horse, you have A LOT of leverage without leaning forward or back.


This was exactly the analogy Paul Belasik used in that conversation I had with him ~25 years ago vs. Museler/Riding Logic. He also talked about the matador's stance (engaged/balanced core).

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:20 pm

Lol, yup. I rode with him for 10+ years, got to see it demonstrated many times. There was also a demo sitting where you would sit in a saddle on a rickety saddle rack that would rock back and forth. You had to hold your hands in riding position and move the rack without moving your hands. In any case, I'm now am working exclusively with Andrea, his protégé after some major drama shook the place up. It's a shame, the way things went. But, that has no bearing on this particular discussion. :lol:

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:46 pm

Back from travel and now I can report again. I had my first ride tonight after help from a new student who helped me exercise/groom Emi while I am gone. This was the least behind the leg she has been after a student rider, although she still got a 10 lber leg leaving the mounting block ("yes, walk is a forward gait, too"). A few minutes sorting out forward and contact and it was a good, go-ey loosening ride. So we are making some progress by me simply bringing more clarity and accountability to our working relationship.

Re: driving/the engagement of core in sliding a door. I have to ask---you only use this much core for a moment, right? I can't imagine a horse being able to go forward if you did that for seconds on end!! However, I totally have used this much core/driving intermittently--usually to prevent rearing or other bad choices.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Dresseur » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:45 am

You can push the door with as little or as much connected core as you want. Anywhere from a tiny nudge to a big push. But it’s only for a moment. So from regular trot to passage will be a bigger drive as you ask the horse to stay forward, yet bring the hinds up with activity, and from passage to piaffe is a nudge then relax. In trot, you just allow forward for the extension, then back to that drive (egg) as you ask the horse to come back. In canter, it’s a series of small nudges. But no, nothing is sustained... and that’s my point, I was accidentally sustaining a driving force in my body without realizing it!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:20 pm

Got it---that does make sense, and gives me perspective of the (subtle) strength that can be needed at the upper levels!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:41 pm

again just to offer the different perspective, i have never ascribed to Belasiks seat aid, the push the door with your core, nor his short necks create connection nor to his ride with your hands like you are riding in to a wall, and always head up, methodology. Dresseur and I have had private, interesting and amicable but not always agreeing discussions of the subject.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:57 pm

The pushing a sliding door with your core is a weird one for me. Like I get the point--you don't need a lot of force--but it's a weird analogy for me that I'm not sure helps me with much.

I also think a lot of philosophies like this deal with the ideal. the idea that if you give a little pressure your horse will listen is not always a reality. We all know this is possible. Obviously if this was a strength competition I would be in big trouble (we all would be compared to our horses). But for those with horses who are not hot off the aids, we're dealing with horses who don't respond to the light aids. So, having a connected core with a little push does literally nothing. It's about going beyond the ideal to get a horse who can ride more like the ideal.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:07 pm

At this point, I'm thinking that my path towards good reactions is mostly about very strict clarity (consistent standards for "good enough") and timing (for releases, for quick reminders, etc.). I continue to explore using a lighter seat in the mix of releases/rewards, too.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Sue B » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:23 pm

Thank you for clarifying.

As an aside, I have been working on more swing in my old hips at the trot, with "solid" lifting core, to encourage a longer stride in Rudy. I think it helps but I don't think of it as a "driving" aid. Maybe it is and I am not aware. Sitting "heavy" is not an option on Rudy, but I could see that becoming an issue on Tio, with his broad, flat back.

Also, I only know of Belasik what I have seen on the internet, so no opinion one way or the other. I have, though, read Riding Logic cover to cover more than once. I also have read Jean Froissard's book, about dressage and classical seat...can't recall the title. I read a lot of ODG literature in general but envision folks like Ingrid Klimke when I ride. While her seat is not perfect from a classical sense, she is highly effective as well as sympathetic towards her mounts; something to emulate imho.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:52 pm

my horse was out for a couple weeks with a vaccine reaction that abscessed. Ugh.

I started her back into work this past weekend. I'm easing her back into work after time off, so it's been a good time to focus on reaction to the leg through basic work. It's a good test because the work is not difficult like it sometimes is, nor are the asks things that are new/a work in progress.

Well, it has not been easy. I'm finding that I am feeling sloppy--not able to be crisp in my initial aid, fast in my follow up if there's no response, and truly legs off inbetween.

I might need someone to put me on the lunge so I can really focus on the aspects above without risking any interference or having other things to think about. We have show coming up at the end of the month and as long as I can up the responsiveness, the movements are all there.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:23 am

I'm glad she has recovered from the abcess, Blob.

I was thinking about our progress tonight. It was quite cold for us (under 30 F) and the mare had been in the day before due to heavy rain. So, I expected her to be a bit sludgy and sticky. But honestly, she felt great. She was happy to go to work and the responsiveness took only a couple of quick sharp legs at canter. I did just stop wearing spurs when I ride and am even not using the whip much except to tickle at a given hind leg. The correction is mostly in my leg giving a sudden strong pulse plus a bit of voice. I especially noticed that we have made a real shift since I had her bundled up in a quarter sheet (which is a barrier to my leg aid and whip, I used to think), but she was just as quick as while naked.

The mantra in my head while riding during this period has been "absolute clarity." No "sort of" aids, no "sort of" rewards. If something doesn't work (ex. response sideways off a leg was inadequate), I address it immediately and if we don't then succeed, I slow it down and make it even clearer. If something is good enough (for now), I praise and leave it. There is a certain energy and certainty in riding this way---and it takes attention. But I like it and the mare clearly does. I was talking with a dressage riding friend about this today. She called it "riding without any ambiguity." I like that phrase.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:57 pm

Another update from the field (or arena as the case may be): We remain in front of the leg, and even rather caffeinated! I sometimes refer to Emi as a little cup of espresso. Some of this is my discipline (quicker leg/sharper leg then clear release; no spurs; not much whip). As Chisamba mentioned on another thread, I do use my voice. I just say GO GO sometimes when I think I might have to use a bigger aid. It is actually rather quiet, although I'm not worried about that with showing because we are just training. The new bit is helpful, too. I've even had some sessions where I am telling her, "Excuse me, this is the bit. Please accept the half halt (or halt), instead of acting like a tourist." This is progress for us!

I do think a fair chunk of our challenges have been 1. Me being worried about how she feels, especially in cold temps (due to PSSM) and 2. Me not realizing we are working with *good enough energy and balance 90%+ of the time* (I have a very solid 2nd and more level horse; the challenge is to make her more in all areas). I am surrounded by tall eventing WBs and my perception of "forward" is a bit distorted :-p

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:19 am

Glad to hear the progress!

Yes, forward doesn't look the same for all horses! Remind me of Emi's breeding?

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:27 am

Emi is a Lusitano x Trak who looks like a Lusitano tank. 15.2 and all butt power, yet with a big shoulder and neck.

p.s. I think a lot of people's idea of "forward" is distorted (toward rushing, being on the forehand, etc.)

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:52 pm

Took my lazy gal to a hunter pace and she was super forward and motivated out in the open. I even got run away with at the gallop on a big open field :lol: which proves she is fully capable of moving with energy when she wants to.

At my most recent lesson, everytime I asked for a change, she would break and immediately pick up the lead I was trying to change to, it was such a fast break it was hard to catch, but it was definitely her taking the easy way out. Well, my instructor (who she has a SERIOUS respect for) came and stood near the line we were working on just by raising his finger (seriously!) she'd change everytime we went past him--clean, expressive, lovely changes. So, once again, they're there when she's motivated.

Now, I just need to find a way to get open field or scary instructor motivation in the arena when I'm by myself.

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby Ryeissa » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:25 pm

Jumping is what I find helps keep my horse really motivated. He is a very happy dude by nature but it avoids some of the boredom that comes with being inside for 6 months of the year

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:14 pm

Ryeissa wrote:Jumping is what I find helps keep my horse really motivated. He is a very happy dude by nature but it avoids some of the boredom that comes with being inside for 6 months of the year



Yes, variety is important. Jumping used to be a great tool for my mare as well, but she's grown bored with smaller fences and i'm not brave enough for the big ones. I need to stop being so lazy about moving jumps and set up some tight gymnastics-- that way she can be challenged and I don't have to be too brave!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:08 pm

I love how smart your mare is, Blob. It must be a bit challenging...but still---she sounds so clever! And the photos you shared were so lovely. I'm kind of with Moutaineer in thinking that it would be easier to work on showing technique by showing 2nd. Hey, you could just do your 3 rd level challenge area stuff in the *warm-up* and get used to it.

I am very in favor of a bit of wild galloping for these sorts of horses like ours My mare very rarely bolts on a gallop in the fields (unless piles of deer or coyotes suddenly show up), but I still laugh and enjoy when she does it (it is very easy to bring her back to the hand gallop).

I had a little wake up call about the total attention this challenge has required. I rode with a skilled friend watching about a week ago and was not attentive to IFOTL from the get go (mounting block) as we were talking. It was a very sludgy ride to me (although friend said it did not look like that) and I regretted not making life clear from the mounting block. Since then, I have and we are back to an earnest mare...who is actually a bit reactive these days. Spring hormones and higher expectations = ready to go worker girl. My friend described my horse as completely serious about work and ready to do as much as requested. I think her phrase was "she's always going somewhere!". I am probably at fault with this, too. My next thread will be about how to take breaks with a worker bee (seriously).

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby blob » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:21 pm

Piedmontfields,

yes, she's terribly smart, it's one of the hardest things about working with her. She gets bored easily, so I have to keep things for her. Right now, she'd rather give me a line of 4s than a single change because it's more interesting.

It's fun when she's forward and wants to gallop and it's a great feeling to have a horse like that be big and bold under you because, like you said, it's always in control.

I'm so glad your mare is turning into a responsive worker bee! And i suspect that even her sludgy in comparison days are probably actually quite lovely, as your friend noticed, which is a great place to be!

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Re: Reactivity / Hot off the Leg Challenge Supporters

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:24 pm

Forgot to add Blob that at some point I realized that I ride differently out in the field vs. in the arena. I tend to have a lighter seat in the field but a better lower leg. When I realized this and did this in the arena, it helped quite a bit. Don't know if this will be useful to you.

Yes, isn't it funny to have the horse you don't mind being "wild". Very different from the nice event horses at my barn who can be rather extreme and even terrifying in their wildness :-0 Thanks for your kind words. I'm lately focused on praising her more, working her hard fewer minutes (but with particular attention) and just being grateful that she found me.


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