Rules and they way the mind thinks

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Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby Tuddy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:08 pm

Dressage has been around for ages. It is a beautiful, majestic form of artwork when you see horse and rider working in harmony and creating lightness and flow.

The journey there is one hell of a ride, this I think we can all agree on.

"Classical texts and rules also say ride with heels lower, don't drop your head, straight line shoulder/hip/heel, toes in, etc. etc. Yet, those rules are broken routinely by highly successful riders. If you (g) can follow the rules to a T and continue to progress, then keep doing what your are doing. The problem is that some many of those fixated on equitation don't seem to progress very much. I don't care what someone's equation is so long as the horse is going well and not being made uncomfortable." ~ musical comedy

I can agree with this statement, unfortunately, it goes against a lot of instructors and trainers teach in my area. They teach what they have been taught - which is what they are supposed to do - but some have never questioned the theoretical "why" as to what they have been taught. When asked, they can give you the logistical why. Clear as mud? I know, I have a hard time making sense sometimes.

A personal story for example. My daughter was in Pony Club, and when she did one of her level tests and was asked to dismount, she dismounted from the right side of the horse, instead of the left. She was penalized for it because the "rules" state, dismount from the left side. I took it as is, and let it slide. She was done with PC anyways, so I wasn't going to push the issue. Fast forward to last week when she had her first ride on Yonka and she was getting ready to dismount, you guessed it, she got off the right side. The trainer was with us, and when she popped off the right side, I just chuckled and looked over to the trainer and said, she has always done it, and we've been told that dismounting that way was "wrong".

He shook his head and said, and who was the one that decided that getting off the left side was "right"?

I immediately gave him a high five and said "YES! I'm not the only one who thinks that!!!" So, I asked my daughter, why do you get off on the right side? She said, "I dunno, I just do". I thought about that for a long time. Why can't training methods be based on such simplicity? That, like stated above, if the horse is not made to be uncomfortable, why not use "non-traditional" methods to get the desired results? How did Xenophon learn to ride? Who taught him? Or was it massive amounts of trial and error that created his legacy people still think about today? (I'm just using him as an example.) Why are (some) riders and trainers stuck in the mentality of past traditional/classical riders from before? Why are we not creating new traditions? Is it because when (some) riders think outside the box, put those thoughts into reality in the arena, and succeed, they are labeled as outcasts/extremists?

Like tsavo said in the other thread "the proof is in the riding pudding".

Just my humble thoughts of the day.

PS - when I dismount off my quiet horses, I kick both feet out of my stirrups, swing my right leg over my horse's neck and slide off "Indian Style". It makes me feel like such a rebel. :lol:

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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby StraightForward » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:59 pm

Well, there are some things that are done out of tradition - like mounting/dismounting due to the side soldiers wore their sword on. There is no biomechanical reason for mounting or dismounting on either side. In fact, it might be better for the horse's back if we alternated to even out the stress on the spine. It's probably good practice, on unfamiliar horses, to mount/dismount on the left because the horse may have a reaction to someone suddenly mounting from the non-traditional side.

Other things have biomechanical reasons, but those are lost in the dogma - like the heels-down that you mention. Heels down helps have a secure leg in a shorter stirrup, galloping and going over jumps. It's not necessary for dressage when the rider has a properly stretched seat, and in fact, can lead to bracing against the stirrups, which reduces the nuance of aids and makes the hip joint stiffen.

Things like the straight line from elbow to bit - have a good reason, but can probably vary a bit depending on rider's stability in the saddle, horse and rider conformation and level of training, etc., but is a good starting point for most riders, and probably a good "neutral" that helps connect the horse to the seat/back and discourages the rider from being "handsy."
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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby khall » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:19 pm

The ideal seat position is set for the rider to ride more effectively and more clearly. It is the biomechanics of correct riding. It is not arbitrary or without reason. The arm position with straight line from elbow to bit is the best way to be clear and to stay out of the horses way. Drop the hand down and the bit acts on the bars of the mouth, too high and the horse closes up in the throat latch. Having that straight line means that the rider can ride with more finesse and with greater clarity. I do not know of any rider who does not continually work on their position riding is about trying to be better IMO every ride.

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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby kande50 » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:52 pm

Tuddy wrote:PS - when I dismount off my quiet horses, I kick both feet out of my stirrups, swing my right leg over my horse's neck and slide off "Indian Style". It makes me feel like such a rebel. :lol:

It's just so much easier to learn the rules, no matter how stupid, and conform to all of them instead of questioning every single one of them, trying different ways to accomplish the same thing, and sometimes failing and sometimes coming up with a better way.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I got on or off the wrong side. I usually just say that I get on and off the right side just as often as the wrong side, and that's why my saddle is still even on both sides. :-)

Interestingly (and luckily) I was taught to do that when I was in college, by the old cowboy trainer who ran the riding and horsemanship program there.

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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby heddylamar » Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:47 pm

Insensible “rules” have alway brought out my inner 2-year-old “why” stage. Some things are sensible (heels, elbow to bit), but others are just dogmatic.

I've never understood the mounting/dismounting thing in today's world. With all we know about biomechanics, why do we still ascribe to a rule that creates a lopsidedness in our horse's spines? Let alone the damage it does to our tack ...

I had a Pony Club team instructor who insisted that we could only ride in two point between fences. That is not a fantastic riding method on a very hot, reactive red-headed mare who was all “yee-haw! there’s a fence!” without FIRM half halts. It was a dangerous situation. I did not last very long in Pony Club ... :lol:

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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:34 pm

I'm reminded of a quote from (I think) the Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden (on Chinese painting):

"To have no method is terrible. To have only method is worse."

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Re: Rules and they way the mind thinks

Postby Sue B » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:01 pm

I go by the theory that first you have to learn the basic rules (like ABC's, phonetics and grammar), and then you can "play" around with them to suit your needs (like creative writing, stream-of-consciousness, etc).

So far as mounting/dismounting goes, I have messed up knees and so I teach my horses to be mounted from either side in case my left knee fails me.

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